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The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming…

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (original 2019; edition 2019)

by David Wallace-Wells (Author)

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2351274,157 (4.18)10
Title:The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
Authors:David Wallace-Wells (Author)
Info:Tim Duggan Books (2019), 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells (2019)



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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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 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...

( )
  writemoves | Jun 17, 2019 |
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 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. ( )
1 vote Beamis12 | Jun 16, 2019 |
This book about how climate change is affecting, and will affect, our lives begins with the words, “It is worse, much worse, than you think.” Yes, we’re in the worst sort of trouble, and we’re doing next to nothing about it. In David Wallace-Wells’ early section “Elements of Chaos,” we realize that we know something about these unfolding disasters: unbearable heat, failure of agriculture leading to mass starvation, rising sea levels in a dying ocean, global pandemics, disappearing fresh water supplies, and more. All lead to economic collapse and “climate conflict” (another term for “war”). What readers may not realize is that these climate-change effects are having a cascading or compounding effect on each other. And as we’ve seen in other “natural” disasters, the poor suffer the most and first, but not the last. In the end, he says, we’ll all suffer because “…the world has, at most, about three decades to completely decarbonize before truly devastating climate horrors begin.”

Perhaps the “Climate Kaleidoscope” section that follows is just as disturbing. It’s all about how it is that we humans can’t seem to get our heads around how we created this unfolding disaster. He reviews our human fallibility, including our mythmaking and storytelling in which we can’t find a way to address a story in which we are all the bad guys. There’s our passive acceptance of the growth model of capitalism; our religious-like belief that technology will save us; our pathetic notion that ethical consumption is the answer; and even more jarring, the notion of history (human history, that is) when history could very well end; plus the many and various dysfunctional ways some of us are coming up with a new ethics in the face of disaster.

Wallace-Wells’ book is also a call to action. “Eating organic is nice…but if your goal is to save the climate, your vote is much more important.” The book is enhanced by extensive notes and a decent index. Its primary shortcoming is its desperate need for an editor’s pencil. Wallace-Wells has a penchant for writing very, very long sentences that are very convoluted with multiple clauses and parenthetical phrases. I counted 106 words in one sentence. In an age in which attention spans are limited to 280 characters, Wallace-Wells’ inability to manage a reasonable sentence length does a disservice to the important message of this book. Even so, The Uninhabitable Earth is a must read. ( )
  C.J.Shane | Apr 27, 2019 |
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 individual could chart. I am an old man but I grieve for what this book projects for my children and grandchildren. ( )
1 vote labdaddy4 | Apr 17, 2019 |
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 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. ( )
2 vote auntmarge64 | Apr 16, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
“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 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.
added by melmore | editNew York Times, Farhad Manjoo (Feb 13, 2019)
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Book description
It is worse, much worse, than you think.

The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn't happening at all, and if your anxiety about it is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today.

Over the past decades, the term "Anthropocene" has climbed into the popular imagination - a name given to the geologic era we live in now, one defined by human intervention in the life of the planet. But however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have ravaged the natural world, which we surely have, it is another thing entirely to consider the possibility that we have only provoked it, engineering first in ignorance and then in denial a climate system that will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us. In the meantime, it will remake us, transforming every aspect of the way we live-the planet no longer nurturing a dream of abundance, but a living nightmare. (from amazon.co.uk)
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"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)

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