“The Uninhabitable Earth”: an Apocalyptic Climate Study that Just might Shock you into Action
Even if you’re Already Convinced of the Danger, this Book could propel you into Accelerated Action
In 2017, climate change journalist David Wallace-Wells published an essay titled “The Uninhabitable Earth” in the New York Magazine. The essay outlined in grave, uncompromising detail, the effects that climate change will have on the planet. Far beyond just talking about temperature increases and sea level rises by the numbers, Wallace-Wells dug into harrowing specifics about global warming, dissecting everything from the scientific to the socio-political impacts this unprecedented phenomenon will throw back into the face of humanity.
Now, Wallace-Wells has expanded his groundbreaking essay into an entire book, with the full title “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.” Like the essay before it, Wallace-Wells’ new book looks deep into the climate crisis, sparing not a shred of honesty in explaining how the human race will suffer from this ongoing environmental catastrophe.
The book is far beyond defining or describing the causes of climate change. As its subtitle explains, “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming” centers on the horrifying consequences of climate change and paints a truthful image of what the planet will look like once this behemoth comes to irreversible fruition.
That image is grim, almost dystopian. The future Earth that Wallace-Wells describes feels like something out of “The Hunger Games,” “Wall-E,” or “Children Of Men.” Ecosystems collapsing, civilizations running amuck, and planetary ecocide leading to mass extinction are all likely climate change aftermaths according to the author, and his rationales are backed with extensive research and scientific evidence.
Even the aspects of climate change that seem most commonplace at this point, Wallace-Wells analyzes with an unparalleled degree of depth and severity. Semi-palatable effects such as melting ice sheets or rising temperatures have profound interconnected layers. As Wallace-Wells explains, a warmer planet will not only create inescapable heat-waves, but it will also lead to heightened illnesses, lethal air quality, biodiversity loss, and migration disruption for humans and other species.
Likewise, while a rising ocean will tragically submerge many of our coastal cities, the book further explains how moving inland will not solve all of the problems, for with an eroding coastline, humanity will lose massive amounts of its food supplies, and our global race will cease to be a people of plenty.
Hope is still Possible but Our Hourglass is Running Out of Sand
This leads to many of the political aftermaths that Wallace-Wells covers in the book. He argues that with climate change displacing, infecting, and literally suffocating so many people, class divides will become sharper (the poor suffering insurmountably more), the nation-state ideology will shift, and more wars will break out. Likewise, economic systems will collapse, as entire markets will disappear and capitalistic gains will lose relevance in the face of Armageddon—a hard-to-swallow reality for those who prioritize fiscal profits over environmental reformation right now.
This is just the surface of what “The Uninhabitable Earth” covers. The book is truly a wide-ranging, almost all-encompassing study of the modern environmental world and where it is heading. Wallace-Wells follows in the esteemed footsteps of eco-critical writers such as Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Kolbert, Alan Weisman, and Amitav Ghosh.
The Economist, The Washington Post, and The New York Times amongst other review publications have heaped high praise on the book, and several critics listed it as one of the best books of 2019. The overarching consensus is that Wallace-Wells’ book is insightful, impactful, and absolutely terrifying, frightening the reader with its unbending image of reality and its harsh truth about where the planet is heading, short a total immediate commitment to counter the threat.
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