Review: Wallace-Wells The Uninhabitable Earth

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
David Wallace-Wells

David Wallace-Wells is here to tell you that not only is climate change very real, it is already worse than you think. Its happening at a rate that we’re not ready for and its effects will be more destructive in more overlapping ways, than you’re probably imaging.

Most writing on environmental issues tries to keep a positive attitude (if only we recycled more, we can change things!). Wallace-Wells takes a much darker view.  He argues we are in for life altering climate change, with devastating effects for the world’s poorest most vulnerable people, and drastic changes to the way the world operates — that isn’t up for debate. Our only hope is to mitigate its likely horrible consequences.

For a lay person, I think of myself as relatively well versed in the science of climate change, but this book hit me like a ton of bricks. I hadn’t considered the over lapping catastrophes we’re likely to see (droughts to wildfires to refugees migration to disease outbreak) and now that I’m thinking about it, I see climate change everywhere. What to do about remains the central question, and one not easily answered. As Wallace-Wells explains, its in everyone’s interest if someone else does something about climate change, but not in anyone’s interest to lead the way.  There’s a lot of good, real science here, but the strands of hope are thin.

Not an easy read, but a necessary one.


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