The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

by David Wallace-Wells

Hardcover, 2019

Publication

Tim Duggan Books (2019), Edition: 1st Edition, 320 pages

Description

"It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, "500-year" storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually. This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century. In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await--food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today. Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation"--… (more)

Media reviews

“The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells is the most terrifying book I have ever read. Its subject is climate change, and its method is scientific, but its mode is Old Testament. The book is a meticulously documented, white-knuckled tour through the cascading catastrophes that will soon
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engulf our warming planet: death by water, death by heat, death by hunger, death by thirst, death by disease, death by asphyxiation, death by political and civilizational collapse.
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1 more

User reviews

LibraryThing member DavidWineberg
The Uninhabitable Earth is not just depressing, David Wallace-Wells’ book is a merciless hammering of the reader, a bludgeoning to wake up to the horrors of climate change. It is both hard and unpleasant to read. Two-thirds through, Wallace unexpectedly pauses to say “If you have made it this
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far, you are a brave reader.”

The structure is simple enough. Wallace divides the planet into 12 plagues. Every paragraph is jammed with facts and citations relating to that aspect. The 12 are: Heat Death, Hunger, Drowning, Wildfire, Disasters No Longer Natural, Freshwater Drain, Dying Oceans, Unbreathable Air, Plagues of Warming, Economic Collapse, Climate Conflict, and “Systems”. He groups them under Part 1: Elements of Chaos. I think they’re plagues, in the biblical sense.

The book is a compendium of the knowledge out there. Wallace’s own career focuses on climate change, and he has all the sources and resources at his command. It shows clearly in the breath of data he draws on. And they are all connected, with feedback loops and knock-on effects that can magnify a bad situation into a disaster. Wallace makes those connections clear.

I have long maintained that the easiest way to view the earth’s response to Man is to think of a wet dog. It shakes violently, flinging the annoying drops out in all directions. It then goes off and scratches itself all over, and eventually dries off and resumes its life. Earth will shake off the effects of Man, but it will take 100,000 years for the oceans alone to reset themselves, and another 100 million years for new life to take shape. In the mean time, everything will be erased. That is the true price of the Industrial Revolution. And as Wallace shows in several places, literally all the money in the world is not enough to fix it.

Although this has been coming for a long time, it really took off in just our lifetime. Fully half the carbon in the air was put there in just the last 25 years, he says. The rise in temperatures has led to the warmest five years in history – in just this short century. The intensity of the ramp up in pollution, invisible as most of it is for now, is breathtaking. Literally.

And we don’t have to wait to see the effects. Wallace says that deaths from air pollution are currently running at seven million per year – more than the Holocaust - every year. With a two degree rise in temperature, that will eventually hit 150 million a year more than it would at 1.5 degrees.
-21 Indian cities expect to have consumed all their groundwater in the next two years.
-Just as American Lyme disease is now active and increasing in Europe, Japan, Turkey and Korea, so malaria will spread all over North America as it warms. Ancient diseases frozen in arctic tundra will resume their conquest. This has already happened.
-Pointless Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity than all the solar panels in the world can provide. That’s not what solar was for. Put another way, Bitcoin mining produces as much pollution as a million transatlantic flights.
-Cities absorb so much heat, they can actually raise nighttime temperatures by as much as 22 Fahrenheit degrees. This means when it’s 130 during the day, it might not drop below 130 at night.
-Ideal functional temperature is about 13C or 57F. Every degree the planet warms over where we are now reduces capacity, production, nutrients, availability and human productivity by several percent. Until there is nothing left to reduce. Construction already stops in the summer, as it is too hot for men to work, and asphalt melts. Humanity simply cannot survive outdoors in 120 degree heat.
-As carbon fills the air, the protein and nutrient content of every plant drops, currently down a third. When plants become useless nutritionally, most other living things will die.
-By 2030, Saudi Arabia will be consuming more energy in air conditioning the desert than it produces in oil. And thereby add that much more heat to it.

The last third of the book is a bit of a relief, quoting other people on their interpretations, theories, expectations and fears. But not necessarily new facts, which provides the relief, such as it is.

I have read so much in this field that I recognized many of the authors, facts and quotes. It is sadly familiar ground to me. Wallace picked good ones, with important points to make, fulfilling my own expectations as I read. In other words, he got it right. This is what we face. If you’re looking for an understanding of what we know at this time, you won’t do better than The Uninhabitable Earth.

About the best hope we have, and the maxim on which we are clearly relying, is that nothing ever turns out the way it first appears. It’s no way to run a planet.

David Wineberg
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LibraryThing member auntmarge64
This is one of the most valuable and thoughtful books I've run across. The first half runs through all the ways our planet and our species are being affected (and will be affected) by, let's face it, our own actions. Heat, hunger, drowning of cities and countries, fire, weather disasters, lack of
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freshwater and reduction of crop production, ocean death, unbreathable air, plagues, economic collapse, millions of climate refugees (tens, if not hundreds, of millions), wars - to name only some of the consequences. The second half of the book is a look at possible responses by both individuals and humanity as a whole. This gets quite philosophical and is for me what makes the book essential.

The author says something early on that is seemingly so minor that it took my breath away once it sank in: the human race evolved in a climate that no longer exists. At just 1°C above pre-industrial global temperature, our current situation, we are in completely new territory. The planet has been here before, and beyond, and we know what that meant (hundreds of feet in ocean rise, massive extinctions, etc.), but fragile human bodies have not. From here the book details the ways in which climate factors will affect both the individual human and the larger human body (civilizations, societal structures, borders, the economy) at 2°, 3°, 4°, and so on. Conceivably much hotter than that. As he puts it: ours is "a civilization enclosing itself in a gaseous suicide, a running car in a sealed garage".

After this horrific sketch, including all sorts of things I'd never considered, comes a look at the probability of the human race being able to generate the political will to avoid climate collapse. This is where depressives might want to walk away.

The futurist Alex Steffen is quoted as describing what we face in even contemplating being able to stabilize things:
The task of transitioning from dirty to clean electricity is smaller than
The challenge of electrifying almost everything that uses power, which is smaller than
The challenge of reducing energy demand, which is smaller than
The challenge of reinventing how goods and services are provided (given the existing dirty infrastructure and the labor markets everywhere using dirty energy).
And then there is the need to get to zero emissions from all other sources (deforestation, agriculture, livestock, landfills).
And the need to protect all human systems from the coming onslaught of natural disasters and extreme weather.
And the need to erect a system of global government, or at least international cooperation, to coordinate above.
All of which is smaller than
The cultural undertaking of imagining together a future that feels not only possible but worth fighting for.

Oh, and we have only a decade or two (maybe three) before we're past any possibility of stopping the process of a climate alteration that won't be reversed for millions of years. Not thousands, millions. And that's only if we start right now, because the clock is already running.

I did like his suggestion for dealing with climate skeptics: wouldn't it be better to think climate change actually is human-made and therefore potentially fixable? Of course, the rest of the book will make you feel it may not matter in the long run what they believe. Global cooperation to eliminate all use of fossil fuels? In the next decade or three? Yeah, right, like that's going to happen.

Really, I don't think I can do justice to the sweep of this book. The author is not an alarmist (that would be me). He's not even particularly careful about adding to the problem (drives a car, flies when he wants, eats meat, etc). But he's fascinated with the climate news he's been following for years, and this is his synopsis and analysis. And in case you think you have a good handle on what's happening and what can be done about it, I'd say that's doubtful. So read the book.
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LibraryThing member labdaddy4
A very dense and slow read. The first 2/3 was completely doom and gloom. There was little optimism or hopefulness in the entire book - certainly no solutions and very few suggestions for a path forward other than calamity. This book does not inspire much hope or even any path forward that an
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individual could chart. I am an old man but I grieve for what this book projects for my children and grandchildren.
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LibraryThing member Beamis12
In no uncertain terms, the author lays out chapter by chapter the damage we in a short period of time, have done to our planet. Damage that is almost certainly irreversible unless some drastic measures are taken, and taken now. From super stroke, to the increased wild fires, flooding in so many
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areas, all that we have seen with our own eyes. The carbon being released into our atmosphere is at detrimental levels, life in the near future will be unsustainable in many regions causing more and more climate refugees.

There is so much more, the future for our children, all future generations looks beyond bleak. This book is beyond frightening, which I guess is what the author meant to do, hoping to propel people to action. He feels that our hope will lie with new technology and feels this is something silicon valley needs to work on now. This is not just a one country problem, but a world wide problem. All countries will be affected, to one extent of another.

This author is not a scientist, he is a journalist but he did his research. I feel this is a book everyone should read, even those who don't believe that climate change and the warming earth, is factual.

The narrator is the author himself. It took me a little time to get used to his voice, but once I did he was fine. I give the narration a three.
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LibraryThing member ASKelmore
BINGO:
Science

Best for:
Those looking for specific clear descriptions of what the earth may look like at different levels of warming.

In a nutshell:
Science writer Wallace-Wells looks at what has happened so far, what is likely to happen, and what the greater implicates will be as related to climate
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change.

Worth quoting:
"Almost regardless of your politics or your consumption choices, the wealthier you are, the larger your carbon footprints."

"More than 140 million people in just three regions of the world will be made climate migrants by 2050."

"Every round-trip plane ticket from New York to London, keep in mind, costs the Arctic three more square meters of ice."

Why I chose it:
The author spoke with Chris Hayes on his 'Why is This Happening?' podcast. I've not yet listened to the episode but will now that I've read the book

Review:

This book is great if you are interested in having more information on specifically what we are looking at when it comes to climate change. In addition to everything we've seen recently (more storms, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the UK and other parts of Europe, fires raging above the arctic circle), Wallace-Wells dives deeply into the specific horrors we can expect to see, including: loss of crops, increased deaths in hot temperatures, areas becoming unlivable, oceans dying, air becoming more polluted, and climate conflict, among others. It is bleak.

It's even more distressing when you consider, as he does, that we've known there are issues for years an we continue to do nothing. If we'd started cutting back on our emissions when we learned about these issues we would have been able to make slight cuts annually; now we need to make huge changes, which means altering every aspect of our lives, starting at the government and corporate levels (sorry, but the ableist straw bans so many people pushed for over the last year won't do much of anything to slow global warming; in fact our plastic use apparently has very little direct impact on climate change in general).

The book is an interesting and well-researched read, but it doesn't offer much in the way of solutions. 'Reduce emissions everywhere, everyone' may in fact be the reality we need to fact, but there's nothing here that offers ideas for a path forward. At times it feels almost fatalistic, even though the author repeatedly points out that the future is not written and we can still make changes. By describing the problem and talking a bit about what it means philosophically should humanity essentially go extinct, the author keeps himself in a very specific lane.

I would have perhaps enjoyed instead a book that included all of this science writing and then, with a second author and a second part, laid out the specific steps we need to take. We need action in the form of huge, sweeping changes, which starts with voting in the leaders who will take those actions. But also ... I'd like to see what are the actions that have been proposed and are feasible? And what does feasibility look like when we're talking about something as dire as this? I included that quote about flights at the top of my review because, despite all I'm doing to reduce my footprint (not eating meat, not having children, not owning a car), I'm writing this on family vacation in New England, having flown in from London a week ago. I fly to the US at least twice a year, and in that I'm causing a huge problem. Should air travel stop? What would that mean for other aspects of life? Movement of goods? Movement of mail? Do those of us who live far from family just say goodbye?

I guess my point here is that I'm already sold on the problems, though it is good to have specific areas to point to. I'm interested now in learning about the different solutions and having the conversation about what it means to implement those solutions.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it
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LibraryThing member Stbalbach
The Uninhabitable Earth is a major new book about the biggest story since the invention of agriculture. There are a lot of good things to say, this is one of the best books on climate change I had read in a long time, it pulls no punches and tells it like it is. The days of debating the science are
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over, we are now squarely in the storm battling its impacts at an ever increasing speed. Alarm and panic are the correct and sane response. Wells does more than recount the headlines, he places things into perspective, and explores areas rarely discussed outside specialized circles to get a sense of where our culture intellectually and artistically may be headed. This is a book for people who watch climate news daily to find new ideas and perspectives, and also for dilettantes to quickly get up to date. Wallace-Wells does a good job showing how big and complex it is. Climate has been the cause of nearly every mass extinction, it is the mother of all problems. I closed out this book feeling profound grief, as if someone close to me had died. It it essential, vital and disturbing. One can not safely look away because the sooner we come to terms the better. We can create and lead this emerging climate future or be subsumed by it.
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LibraryThing member lostinalibrary
If you aren't a climate denier but don't yet feel a sense of urgency, you really need to read The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by author David Wallace-Wells. He makes a whole lot of predictions and many of them are, by necessity, based on speculation but he backs them all up with facts
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and statistics. At times, it felt overwhelming not to mention terrifying but he makes it accessible to people who are not scientists, something that has been badly needed in the discussion.

I should say that I read this several months ago and have been struggling to write a review, not because it didn't make me think but, just the opposite, I just couldn't put those thoughts into words that didn't fill pages. However, given events in Canada as our federal government gives lip service to the need for immediate action while pushing through another pipeline and several of the provincial premiers are deniers and after the climate summit just this week, I need to recommend this book. So, without sounding as worried as I feel, all I will say is Read. This. Book. We are in the midst of a climate emergency and clearly our governments aren't paying enough attention so it's up to us.

Thanks to Netgalley and Crown Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review
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LibraryThing member davidroche
Possibly the most important book I have read. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.
LibraryThing member nivramkoorb
This is a very important book. It is also a very depressing book.. Wallace-Wells bottom line is that we must take immediate action as we are looking at a very bleak future in as soon as 20-30 years. As someone who lives in Northern California I have seen first hand the dramatic increase in our fire
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season and the damage that it does. The author does a good job of showing the evidence of climate change in terms of melting snows caps, dying barrier reefs, global warming, more intense storms and increase pollution. The impacts on society and the possible breakdown of norms will be a consequence of impacts of climate change. No one will be spared but obviously poorer countries will feel a greater initial impact. Basically our carbon fossil based civilization has created this problem and we need to move on from this form of energy to solar, wind, and nuclear. The Green New deal lays this out but until we get a daily hurricane our dysfunctional government will continue to look the other way. This is a global problem which means our country needs to be leading the required changes. Unfortunately, Trump is the worst leader at the worst time. This book is only 228 pages and is a must read for everyone.
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LibraryThing member writemoves
This is a pretty scary book. I guess the only consolation is that I will be dead when most of the predicted consequences of us not dealing effectively now with climate change taking place. So what we're looking at are huge rises in sea levels that will submerge coastline cities and locations
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including Florida, New York City and even my home state of New Jersey. Wells depicts a very grim picture of future life on this planet. There will be food shortages and droughts. Millions of people will be relocating from their homelands. Animal life will decrease, more species will become extinct. Storms will even become more severe and frequent.

We suffer from chronic flooding now and it will continue to worsen as well as firestorms. Wells argues that despite climate change accords (Kyoto and Paris) that very little has been achieved. We are kicking the can (problem) down the road. We are leaving this problem for future generations to solve or endure. By that time (after 2050), it may be too late.

Well written. Gives one pause to think seriously about the future of earth and humanity in the not so far future...
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LibraryThing member deusvitae
An extremely well-written and deeply thought out exploration of the future of life on earth in a warming world.

The author has done his research, but beyond that, forces you to think about all the things that have already changed, let alone will likely change if action is not taken. Sure, it's
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climate alarmism - but alarmism based on what is already happening. This book would not work in 2000. It hits hard to recognize that most of our problem has come in our very generation - over my lifetime (38 years).

The author goes through all the cascading challenges to come: heat, hunger, drowning, wildfire, disasters, lack of freshwater, ocean death, air pollution, disease plagues, economic collapse, war, and systemic challenges. He then goes on to discuss the psychology of the issue and how it gets addressed, the limitations of technology, our progressive view of history, and what would make for a life well lived in an unrecognizable Earth. He concludes on a message of hope - not the fatalism of how all civilized worlds must end, but the hope that we can maybe salvage something out of all this.

It's by no means a cheery book. It will challenge you to your very core, since the author so deftly intertwines our current dilemma with the very quality of life we've come to enjoy because of it. No assumption is left unchallenged. A very different way of looking at the Industrial Revolution is offered, and one that might well end up becoming the historical consensus. We are quite possibly looking at the precipice of the end of all we have built over generations.

To that end the work is very prophetic. As one who has done some study in the prophets in the Bible, the forecast does not look good. It is only in the moment of crisis, when the consequences cannot be denied, that far too many have come to repentance, and as with climate, so with the judgments of old, by then it was far too late. People are far too likely to accept whatever justification they can to keep up the current perspective and attitude about things; it will take the destructive crisis to shake it out of them, and by then, alas; it will all be literally baked into the climate.

If so, it would be fitting, but woe to all of us and to our descendants for all the chaos, pain, and misery in store if even the most conservative forecasts come true.
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LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
The title of this book is misleading. What it appears to me to be is a list of possible things to go wrong and the evidence that they will. Then the author admits that he has no idea of the total effect all of these events occurring at the same time will be. The number of bad things and their
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interactions is daunting, and the Law of Unintended Consequences will be ruthlessly be in evidence. The net effect of the convergence will have a high butcher's' bill and the evidence that the economic damage will be one of the least horrible, is clear. So, Wallace-Wells ends up with some chapters on the troubles the climate-aware seem to be having attracting attention from the powers that be, and tries to be slightly optimistic about the future. Definitely this is an interim report. I pray it is not the last word.
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LibraryThing member booktsunami
It's kind of like a rant by one of the old testament prophets or those guys wearing signs that say "Repent for the end of the word is at hand". But in this case David Wallace-Wells makes his case frighteningly real.As he says: "I've always accepted that there was a trade-off between economic growth
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and cost to nature , and figured.......I'd probably go for growth.......I am like every other American who has spent their life fatally complacent , and wilfully deluded, about climate change". and: "Because these numbers are so small , we tend to trivialise the differences between them - one, two, four, five (degrees C). Human experience and memory offer no good analogy for how we should think of these thresholds, but as with world wars or recurrence of cancer, you don't want to see even one."
What Wallace-Wells has done exceedingly well is raise my consciousness about the immediacy of climate change....the majority of the burning has come since the premier of Seinfeld. The story of the industrial world's Kamikaze mission is the story of a single lifetime.......we know those lifetimes.......the rolling emissions regime threatens to make parts of the planet more or less unliveable for humans by the end of this century. This is the course we are speeding so blithely along - to more than four degrees celsius of warming by the year 2100".
There is a torrent of facts and figures ....about the increasing frequency and severity of storms and drought; of rising sea levels, of desertification and falling crop yields, pandemics, and social disturbance, increased wars and huge numbers of refugees. (The UN predictions are 200 million climate refuges by 2050....the high end of the predictions are for 1 Billion or more vulnerable poor people with little choice but to fight or flee.). In fact, I found myself somewhat overwhelmed with all the figures. Though, as my friend Richard, said when recommending the book to me....it is very well referenced. Virtually all the claims made in the book have some solid credentialed reference backing them up.
I must say that he is convincing. One can set aside all the usual apologies for climate change such as: the science is not yet conclusive, the earth has gone through hot periods before, something (technological) will turn up. Wallace-Wells, pretty much has a very strong answer for all of these responses. Generally he writes well and clearly. (Although he likes his flowery flourishes and tends towards overly long sentences.....I counted 77 words in one fairly typical sentence). However, there are some strange discrepancies ...his section on story telling is convoluted, hard-going, and seems like it was written by someone else or for some other audience and he's just slotted it into this book. The same goes for the section on "Ethics at the end of the world". But by and large the message is so powerful it drowns out the flowery language and unnecessary literary allusions. For example: ...the true red line for habitability is 35 degrees, beyond which human beings begin simply dying from the heat......What is called 'heat stress' comes much sooner. Actually, we are there already. Since 1980 the planet has experienced a fiftyfold increase in the number of dangerous heatwaves; a bigger increase is to come."
I felt that he gave insufficient attention to population growth as a driver of climate warming.....and potentially something that could be brought under control. But maybe he assumes that it is a given, and, anyway, even if population growth stabilises very rapidly the trajectory of climate change will not be altered.
"The world's suffering will be distributed as unequally as its profits......Already-hot countries like India and Pakistan will be hurt the most ; within the US , the costs will be shouldered largely in the south and southwest, where some regions could lose up to 20% of county income".
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LibraryThing member jefware
The Earth will change. Will it become uninhabitable? That is (unfortunately) up to us.
LibraryThing member JennyNau10
I can't believe I forgot to review this one. I think about it- ALL THE TIME. I wasn't optimistic about our planet's situation before reading this and now almost ten months later, I'm convinced the author is dead on with his predictions. We need to wake up and start changing things now.
LibraryThing member Paul-the-well-read
Lots of books and articles want to waste time arguing about whether or not global climate change is real or not. The Uninhabitable Earth does not waste time on that nonsense. In fact, in one passage, the author notes that only in the United States is there any question of it. Nor is there any
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question that the rapid rate of the warming is the direct result of human activity.
Wallace-Wells notes that there have been 5 global extinctions in the past, only one of which was caused by an asteroid (the one that killed the dinosaurs). It is possible that our current race toward extinction is yet another of those natural extinctions as climate deniers argue, but it is not possible that the rate of our current, and inevitable, extinction is caused by anything other than human activity.
The book itself spends little tome on those issues and instead focuses on the impacts of the warming that we are already experience it and then talks about the trends in these impacts as possible predictors of the future. Thus, the economies of the world, population growth trends, immigration trends, trends in civil strife, political trends, and just about any other thing that could be related to climate change are all examined in detail and with ample, well-vetted and credible research to support them.
This is not an alarmist book. It is a reasoned and unemotional presentation of facts and the data that supports them. It is the same undeniable reasoning of a statement like, “If you pull the trigger of that gun you are pointing at me, I am very likely to die.” In this case, however, we have already pulled the trigger and the bullet is in mid-flight. Unfortunately, the greatest impact of the bullet will be felt by our grandchildren.
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LibraryThing member sometimeunderwater
There are a few different ways to review this book.

Firstly, should you read it? Yes, unquestionably. It outlines the case for raising climate change up one's personal / the political agenda - and everyone would benefit from a reminder of how critical this issue is.

Secondly, does it occasionally
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allow this aim to distract it from a dispassionate and wholly-justified account of the latest science? Yes, probably. That's certainly the view of ClimateFeedback (a peer-reviewing service for climate media) for example. The title alone, for example, is part of that end (the earth is extremely unlikely to become actually *uninhabitable*, regardless of how bleak things get). However, I think in this instance, a bit of hyperbole and rhetoric is definitely justified. The balance of action is far too low at the moment, so a bit of urgency is welcome.

Finally, what is its competence as a book-length essay? On this, I would say it's... serviceable. The writing is fine, but the structure is not explained in advance, so you have to just plough through the various sections, mildly bemused, and figure out how they fit together afterwards. That's particularly true of the "Climate Kaleidoscope" section, where David WW let's himself get a bit creative and speculative. The sections on AI or capitalism for example seem particularly incongruous until their concluding paragraphs.

That section is also the weakest in terms of analysis: it begins to cite people like Naomi Klein and Yuval Noah Harari rather than actual climate scientists (for example). However I did learn a thing or two, and it's admittedly much more enjoyable to read than the number-dump of the first section. That section is essential reading, but isn't any more in-depth than other pop books on the subject - such as Mark Lynas' - or much more fun than just reading the IPCC reports themselves.

But, these gripes aside, I reiterate: should you read this book? Yes.
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LibraryThing member aadyer
A very good discussion about climate change and what’s going to happen or rather, speculations on what is going to happen. Stay with this. The first part of the book throws so many facts and figures at you that you ended up being baffled by them. It’s much better for the last two thirds where
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he addresses relevant issues.
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LibraryThing member dasam
A profoundly depressing work that is profoundly convincing. It is an ice bucket to wake us up with a bit of hope that we may wake up:

"This goes beyond thinking like a planet, because the planet will survive, however terribly we poison it; it is thinking like a people, one people, whose fate is
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shared by all."

"The emergent portrait of suffering is, I hope, horrifying. It is also entirely, elective. If we allow global warming to proceed, and to punish us with all the ferocity we have fed it, it will be because have chosen that punishment—collectively walking down a path of suicide. If we avert it, it will be because we have chosen to walk different path, and endure."
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LibraryThing member unclebob53703
As suffocatingly depressing a book as I've ever read, especially as you get into the later chapters that branch out into threats you might not associate with global warming. The author himself admits that much of what he's talking about may turn out to be wrong, but the central premise, that the
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planet is warming because of us and we will suffer for it, has the ring of absolute truth. One can only hope that we will rise to the occasion and deal with the problems, and the author says he is optimistic--that was not my take on it. We've known about this for decades and done nothing. I don't believe we ever will.
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LibraryThing member RajivC
This book by David Wallace-Wells is a frightening book. Many, many people should read this book,

The book may come across as apocalyptic. It may come across as a book that spells doom and casts a shadow on our sunny lives.

Yet, the weather—the climate—is changing all around us.

David
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Wallace-Wells has divided the book into bite-sized sections, easy to digest.

The first part describes what will happen if we don’t act now.
In the second part, he writes about some discussions that are taking place around climate change—the controversies, scientific and political.

Last, he dives into some fringe groups that exist out there—somewhere.

More important, is his message—we have only one planet, one home.

Definitely read the book.
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LibraryThing member donblanco
This book led me down the path to an existential crisis. Between this book and The End of Ice by Dahr Jamail, I did just that, lapsed into a crisis. Why bother to keep on living? Why care about the environment? It's all going to end with an uninhabitable planet, so recycling aluminum cans and
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plastic just seems like a big waste.

I'm not kidding when I say that it caused me to think of life as a complete waste of time, and that it was perfectly acceptable to just end it all.

Fortunately that did not happen. My general underlying positive viewpoint fought back. I did not want to see my beautiful wife lapse into this "we have ruined the planet and humans deserve to die off" mindset. I kept reading. And I found a couple of books that saved my sanity.

One was The End of Doom by Ronald Bailey.

The other was Apocalypse Never by Michael Shellenberger.

Those books literally saved my life.

This isn't about being a so-called 'climate change denier' or whatever label you want to sling out. This is about approaching science with a bit of healthy skepticism, about rejecting the concept of consensus as it has *no place* anywhere near the idea of science. It is about regaining hope. It is about learning to care for the earth and our legacy on this planet.
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LibraryThing member Sheila1957
There is so much in here to be scared about on climate change. I listened to this book but had to get the e-book because he was going over so many facts and statistics that I was having a hard time understanding it and keeping up. I liked that he broke the crisis into smaller pieces. I liked that
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he spoke of who would be most affected by the changes as well as how they would be affected. We all will be affected eventually but those in poorer countries and those who are poor will be affected earlier and more than those who are wealthy. I did find it interesting that as he was talking about wildfires, he explained that those who are wealthy, and living in those areas, are being affected as much as those who are poor. The increase of weather changes, floods, and fires was amazing, and it all happened within the last 50 years. He did not give solutions but shared who was doing what when it came to that. He lays out a convincing argument for climate change and what will happen to the planet and humans and how we have contributed to it in the past and today. Worth the read.
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LibraryThing member markm2315
The author tries to lay everything out for our terrifying edification, although only the details are really new here unless you’ve been sleeping for 40 years. Remember Al Gore in his cherry picker truck showing us the rise in carbon dioxide production? There has been more CO2 production since his
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movie than in previous recorded time, and it was 42°C in Paris last week. This may be the most disturbing book I have ever read. It makes Kafka look like your girl friend’s birthday party.

I was initially going to recommend that subsequent editions of this book be sold with a revolver, but the last chapters discuss various thinker's intellectual responses to our impending doom, and all responses are not completely negative. Mr. Wallace-Wells says,
Personally, I think that climate change itself offers the most invigorating picture, in that even its cruelty flatters our sense of power, and in so doing calls the world, as one, to action.
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LibraryThing member dcunning11235
To be honest, the parts of this book that I did not like almost make me want to give it 2-stars, but that is unjustifiably harsh, I think.

The entire first section is, at best, 1.5 stars. I've seen reviews talking about the beautiful prose, the forceful language, etc. No. It's florid. Melodramatic.
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Hyperbolic in imagery, if not quite in detail (Mr. Wallace-Wells (WW) is open early on that he is describing the (scientific, respectable) worst-case scenarios, not most likely, not those based on any serious action being taken.) If you like your science presented by the most verbose, melodramatic member of your local high-school drama club, this section is for you.

He defends this approach (and, by extension, one assumes the presentation) on the logic that people haven't been paying attention. His theory is that it is because climate change is easy to ignore because it is presented so sanguinely and only as e.g. sea-level change and the occasional extra hurricane. This is... self-evidently false from An Inconvenient Truth to... what was the De Caprio movie, The 11th Hour or something like that... to pretty much every pop-article ever. Yes, actual climate scientists in actual scientific papers are "reticent", but blaming public apathy on that is, to put it kindly, a stretch.

It is in the second section where this knot gets sort-of tied: "because neoliberalism," my ongoing second most-hated "reason" (the first being the ubiquitous "them""they"".) Mostly because neoliberalism has lost most of its meaning
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Original publication date

2019

Pages

320

ISBN

0525576703 / 9780525576709
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