To jolt people out of their complacency about climate change, David Wallace-Wells gathered the data on twelve key elements of today’s ever-more unstable world. Delivered in one concentrated punch, the statistics on the global rise in heat, ferocity and frequency of storms, droughts, famines, ocean acidifi cation, and political unrest are truly shocking. Add to these the cascade effect of their unpredictable interactions—more carbon in the soil fosters larger plants with fewer nutrients, which sharpens competition for dwindling protein sources, leading to more social unrest, climate refugees, and so on—and Wallace-Wells presents a truly horrifying picture of a world that is hurtling toward apocalypse. Yet despite calling this book The Uninhabitable Earth (Tim Duggan, $27), Wallace-Wells believes that even by the end of the century—about as far as we can bear to look at this point—only one third of Earth will actually be uninhabitable. We still have time to change. But will we? Human behavior is the greatest of the many unknowns that lie ahead, and, without laying out particular policies, Wallace-Wells offers a profound reflection on what it will mean for us to live—for the first time ever—outside “the narrow window of environmental conditions that allowed the human to evolve” and, most crucially, that enabled us to create a civilization based on fossil-fuels.
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells