Our Final Hour
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Our Final Hour

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  174 ratings  ·  17 reviews
A scientist known for unraveling the complexities of the universe over millions of years, Sir Martin Rees now warns that humankind is potentially the maker of its own demise--and that of the cosmos. Though the twenty-first century could be the critical era in which life on Earth spreads beyond our solar system, it is just as likely that we have endangered the future of the...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 19th 2003 by Basic Books (first published 2003)
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Jul 10, 2011 Brett rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to sound smart at parties
Shelves: environment, science
The most common objection to Our Final Hour seems to be alleging that it is alarmist. This stems from Martin Rees' assertion that there is about a 50/50 liklihood of humankind surviving the next 100 years. I guess I don't really buy that it's alarmist--first, because when you encounter an alarming phenomenon, the proper response is urgency--and secondly because, though Rees deals with some ideas that I think have a very small chance of negatively affecting our species, he always takes care to be...more
Possibly the scariest book you'll ever read.

For my signed copy, The Good Professor restored the question mark that he wanted in the title,i.e. "Our Final Century?", but the publishers, in their wisdom, omitted. Apparently in US it was published as "Our Final Hour", possibly telling us all we need to know about Americans. I am amazed that someone as erudite and establishment as a Professor and Lord still can't get his book published with the title he wanted.

Putting that to one side, we're still...more
I heard about Our Final Hour when I watched Martin Rees' Ted talk on the mounting risks that the Earth now faces, here. I thought that I would be getting a more in-depth treatment of the topics he covered in the video, but for the most part, I had already learned his most interesting ideas. Also, since the immediacy of the issues is a main thrust of the book, it has gone a bit stale already, as in:

Some innovations just don't attract enough economic or social demand: just as supersonic flight a
This was an interesting and thought provoking book. The author presented a list of the natural and man made ways that humanity and/or civilization could be destroyed. He talked about ways to measure and think about risk, especially risk with very small probability but extremely horrific results. He also talked a bit about the spread of humanity into space and some talk of whether or not life was common or not and how that should affect how we think about the risks we are taking and their impact...more
I remember when my brother first read this and I was kind of interested at the time in knowing what it was about. Years later I finally read this book and it is actually somewhat interesting. The author, Sir Martin Rees, talks about how human involvement in this world can cause a global disaster and end mankind. He goes all the way back into history coming up with theories based on evidence on how the mistakes we, the government and others in the world contribute to the end of the world. Before...more
The book covers many topics in a broad way, while not getting into any good depth. Despite the title the last few chapters are hopeful, as they look at the possibility of alien life or our potential to get off the planet where we reside. Written over ten years ago now, this is surprisingly not a dated book at all, still quite relevant, with a few exceptions of course. Just an okay book, not stunning or revelatory; more for someone just getting into the topics of how humans can fail big. If you h...more
I enjoyed this book. The author makes a good case for how the realities of technology, science, and advancements should be weighed and planned for in the effects, repercussions, and consequences of our relentless pursuit for "what's next". Essentially the heart of the book is a discussion in asking "are we creating more problems than solutions with our advancements of technology", and it's something many living int the 21st century should be asking.

I disagree with some of the authors conclusions...more
This book is identical to _Our Final Hour_, other than this being the UK edition of the book.

It contains a sobering message of how humankind's future may be threatened later this Century - or within the decade, by scientific error and environmental disaster either from unpredictable natural causes or environment disaster caused by human intervention in a system without taking account of all of the consequences.
Great book to read late at night, which keeps you paranoid and not able to fall asleep. This book gives a description of a multitude of events that could all lead to the end of the world before the end of this century. Whether it's advances in nanotechnology, political unrest mixed with nuclear weapons or environmental disaster, make your bets as to which one will do us all in...
This was a good book to read behind The World with out us. It covers the many things we as people and scientist can do to destroy the world, and discusses temperance in those things. It briefly covers some of the natural disasters that could occur to destroy the earth as well. the odds of those vs the odds of man doing it.
H Wesselius
Good science writers don't always make good doomsday writers. He should stick to explaining the cosmos and leave the speculation to the stock market, economist, priests and the weatherman. His drivel on space travel and mars colonization was sleep inducing.
Terrifying, absolutely. Scientists who know the most are the gloomiest people around. Read this and you will likely feel as if you are a walking corpse--but the good news is that it will likely make you more motivated to ride your bike around.
I'm actually reading Our Final Century. As the Professor observes during an entertaining TED talk, it was published as Our Final Hour across the Atlantic in order to satisfy the American desire for immediate gratification.

So far, it's very good.
A relatively short book that gives a good snapshot of future scientific concerns and for the most part avoids excessive scaremongering when covering topics such as nuclear weapons.
For true pessimists and cynics alike! An interesting, informative look at how humanity is doomed, but with some hope at the end so you don't become a nihilist. Too late.
Could be fear-based propaganda, but I like Sir Martin Rees and will keep an open mind.
Very well written by Sir Martin Rees.
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From Wikipedia:

Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, OM, PRS (born June 23, 1942 in York) is an English cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995, and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004. He became President of the Royal Society on December 1, 2005.
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