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The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  7,067 ratings  ·  1,432 reviews
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 ann ...more
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Tim Duggan Books
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Prajwal I'm only partway through the book, but there is a lot more information in the book than in the article. Think of the article as an executive summary…moreI'm only partway through the book, but there is a lot more information in the book than in the article. Think of the article as an executive summary of about half the book. :)(less)

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Manny
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Manny by: howl of minerva
[Original review: Jun 29 2019]

A well-written, straightforward and honest book about climate change. The situation is even worse than I thought it was, and I was already far from optimistic.

One of the things the author spells out, which I had not properly grasped before, is that climate change will affect different parts of the world very differently. For low-lying equatorial Bangladesh, it is a catastrophe. It sounds like the country may soon - within the next few decades - be rendered unin
...more
Bill Kerwin
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing

In July of 2017, in New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells published an article on climate change entitled “The Uninhabitable Earth.” It began with these words: “It is, I promise, worse than you think.” Now Wallace-Wells has turned that article into a book, and—if anything—he has doubled down. “It is worse,” the book begins, “much worse, than you think.”

It is, it surely is. And Wallace-Wells pulls no punches. He does not fog the facts with statistics, or conceal his rage and sorrow under a sc
...more
Ryan Boissonneault
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Whether or not you will find this book valuable depends on what you’re looking for; if you’re interested in the science of, or evidence for, global warming, or in creative solutions to save the planet, then you are bound to be, like me, disappointed.

The book, rather, focuses almost exclusively on the potential consequences of living on a planet that will experience anywhere from 2 to 8 degrees celsius of warming between now and the year 2100.

First, to state the obvious, global warming is defin
...more
Lou
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most accurate terminology to describe this book: absolutely terrifying. It has the same impact a fantastic horror movie or novel does but with one very important difference - THIS IS REAL. If this doesn't wake earth's inhabitants up to our self-made, self-inflicted impending doom I don't know what will. I must add that this is so stark and horrifying that on the night I completed it I failed to sleep for thinking about everything David Wallace-Wells opens our eyes to. One of the hardest-hitt ...more
Radiantflux
32nd book for 2019.

Wallace-Wells shows in stunning detail just how bad the global neo-liberal consumption=happiness after-party is going to be, and just how soon the lights are going to come on.

We are currently at 1-degree warming. We are going to sail pass the 2-degree barrier agreed upon by Paris (that's just a fact). If we are really lucky we might stabilize at 3-4 degrees above baseline (there are no guarantees as some poorly understood feedback loops might push us si
...more
Trevor
One of my favourite Australian novels is Peter Carey’s Bliss. That starts with Harry Joy (isn’t that one of the best names of a character ever?) having a wonderful Christmas party with his family and friends – he has the perfect life and he could hardly be happier. Then just like that, BANG…he has a heart attack and dies. And just as suddenly he is brought back to life – a miracle, no less – he was dead and now he’s alive again. Except that now he finds out that his wife is having an affair with ...more
David
This is an exceptional, must-read book about the prognosis for our planet Earth. The prognosis is not a happy one--it is truly depressing. If things continue at the present pace, by 2100, temperatures will rise by more than 4C. Large parts of Africa, Australia, the United States, South America, and Asia will become uninhabitable. The U.N.Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a very conservative group, and considers only the most recent, inarguable research. They state that if we ac ...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-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 ...more
David Wineberg
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Uninhabitable Earth is not just depressing, David Wallace-Wells’ book is a merciless hammering of the reader, a bludgeoning to wake up to the horrors of climate change. It is both hard and unpleasant to read. Two-thirds through, Wallace unexpectedly pauses to say “If you have made it this far, you are a brave reader.”

The structure is simple enough. Wallace divides the planet into 12 plagues. Every paragraph is jammed with facts and citations relating to that aspect. The 12 are: H
...more
David Schaafsma
"It is worse, much worse, than you think.”

That is the first line of this book, which I think is the key book for all of us to to read and read now about the dangers we now face within decades, not centuries, (or what we are already beginning to experience in a very real way) but if you think it and its title are hyperbolic, read the first half of the book as soon as possible and (with science) deny if you can the facts I read there, most of them familiar to those who have been reading the envir
...more
Jenna
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jenna by: Radiantflux
Tornado GIF - Tornado GIFs

"If we allow global warming to proceed, and to punish us with all the ferocity we have fed it, it will be because we have chosen that punishment—collectively walking down a path of suicide."

This book is terrifying but informative. It is terrifying because it is informative. David Wallace-Wells presents us with the cold, hard facts about global warming. Right now, we are only about 1° C warming but are on a course to warm much, much more. We are already witnessing the devastating effects of climate change, eve
...more
William
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My rating: One Million Stars
Sadly inevitable now: The frying of the planet until the collapse of civilisation, and then 100,000 years to recover.


Page 1 -
"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 comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an Arctic saga, unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matter of sea level and coastline-
"It
...more
Brooke
May 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book has 5-star material, but a 1-star execution. As someone who is incredibly concerned about our planet and our future, I had such high hopes for this book, but I’ve been left frustrated and disappointed. I knew going into it that the topic wouldn’t make for an easy read, but the writing was so dry and repetitive that I had a hard time focusing. What could have been said in a couple sentences was instead stretched out into several pages – and then repeated using different words shortly af ...more
Michael Ferro
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is no secret that the human race is hellbent on destroying itself; we invite our own person apocalypse every day that we sit and do nothing. But just how hard will it be for humans to change their ways? What does the future hold in store on this rapidly warming planet if we don't change? What if we DO change—will it matter? Or have too many red lines been crossed.

Though thoroughly depressing, this book is one of the most level-headed, well-balanced books I've read on the impending doom known
...more
Jessaka
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ecology
First he Roar, Then the Silence

“When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.”

~~Cree Indian prophecy

“God will bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”

~~ Revelation 11:18


In 1957, my 8th grade teacher gave us a lesson on pollution and its effects on our planet. I don’t recall much of what he had said other than he had brought the book, Silent Spring by
...more
Kaelan Ratcliffe▪Κάϊλαν Ράτκλιφ▪كايِلان راتكِليف
The End
Its time for all of us to stop playing games.

This book is a cascade of anxiety inducing, despair-magnifying horror. I had an minor anxiety attack on the thirteenth page. Even Wallace-Wells (the author) commends his readers for reaching a certain stage within his extended essays* pages.

I've managed to desensitise myself to many ecological / climate change based articles, books, and journals so that I may educate myself on the topic. I erected barriers in my mind, so that I
...more
Libby
David Wallace-Wells is a journalist who’s written articles for New York Magazine and The Guardian. This is his first book, which he admits that people, upon reading, may call alarmist, which would be okay with him because, he states, “I am alarmed.” With an array of scientific resources, Wallace paints a bleak landscape for humanity’s future if no changes are made in our use of fossil fuels. Wallace does not go down the path of Guy McPherson, who consistently predicts near-term human extinction. ...more
Mara
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book that truly changed the way I look at the world -- it is sending me down an entire rabbit hole of learning more about climate change and what I can do to be a part of collective action. I especially appreciate the anthropocentric approach to Wallace-Wells argument, as I think that connected with me on a deeper level than some of the more romantic arguments about the purity of nature. Don't get me wrong, I love nature & I get that those arguments have their place, but those arguments co ...more
Kathleen
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dystopian science fiction is more uplifting than Wallace-Wells excellent book outlining just how dire the future is for humans on our beautiful planet. We are rapidly destroying our precious ecosystems by adding more and more carbon to the atmosphere. Wallace-Wells warns of collapsing ice sheets, water scarcity, droughts, and fires that result in a decrease of arable land, and rising sea levels.

The solution is for the entire globe to reduce its carbon footprint with revolutionary zea
...more
Malia
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read! The book rattled me (how could it be any other way with a title like Uninhabitable Earth), but maybe that's important given the current situation. I need to think about this for a while longer before I can write a better review, but I certainly recommend it!

Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com
Xtine
Mar 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: climate
Covers similar ground as Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, but with less depth & specificity and zero action plan.

In spite of pooh-poohing everything from individual lifestyle choices to climate-first candidates, with a ton of what-about-isms, Wallace-Wells ends on an optimistic note — based on what, he does not say.

I recommend Klein’s book instead of this one — or in addition to this, especially for those this left feeling nihilistic and hopeless.

Covers similar ground as Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, but with less depth & specificity and zero action plan.

In spite of pooh-poohing everything from individual lifestyle choices to climate-first candidates, with a ton of what-about-isms, Wallace-Wells ends on an optimistic note — based on what, he does not say.

I recommend Klein’s book instead of this one — or in addition to this, especially for those this left feeling nihilistic and hopeless.

This Changes Everything Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

...more
Murtaza
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that will snap you out of your climate apathy. The Uninhabitable Earth is a tour of the incredibly dire material threats that are staring us in the face right now, as well as the moral and ethical world we might hope to live in after fatally throwing our planet off balance. The book is perfectly structured to target all the excuses you've made in your mind to not think about this. Catastrophic climate change is not something that's going to happen a long time from now, we're going to ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Covers climate change and the looming climate catastrophe from the angles that hit a modern reader in the affluent countries. It talks about the many dangerous effects of climate change that will be coming to a town near you. It covers our politics that seems paralyzed around this existential issue and the sleepwalker psychology that will take us over the cliff. About our rationalizations and wishful thinking that helps us turn a blind eye to the impending crisis. I suggest one read this to get ...more
howl of minerva
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: climate-ecology
Terrifying, scintillating, sobering. The basic content is mainstream scientific consensus and could be gleaned from those arid, aseptic IPCC reports but this is infinitely more readable. In large part, this is an evocation of a world to come but equally it is simply a description of where we stand right now.

The original article rapidly became the most-read article in the history of NY magazine, it's still available to read for free here:

Terrifying, scintillating, sobering. The basic content is mainstream scientific consensus and could be gleaned from those arid, aseptic IPCC reports but this is infinitely more readable. In large part, this is an evocation of a world to come but equally it is simply a description of where we stand right now.

The original article rapidly became the most-read article in the history of NY magazine, it's still available to read for free here:

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/0...

See also an annotated, referenced version:

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/0...

The article-to-book port often just means the best bits of the article, 150 pages of filler, a fancy book jacket and a tidy $15.99. In this case the book genuinely fleshes out the article. Wallace-Wells can also explore more of the political, economic and psychological facets of the issue.

Recommended for everyone who breathes air. (Of course there are many other sources for the same information, including the aforementioned IPCC reports). I'm not a climate activist but I'm now looking for ways to get more informed and engaged. (Now? Why now? Haven't we known about this for decades?! Yes, the shame is mine... Or rather, ours, unless you have been a committed activist for decades, in which case I salute you!).

It's too easy to swing between the two facile poles of: i) it'll be fine someone will come up with a solution and ii) it's too late, we're all fucked, let's get our kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames. Both of these positions conveniently absolve us of any individual or collective responsibility to act. Between those poles, I'm hoping there is something productive to be done. As unimaginably horrific as a world with 2 or 3C of warming will be, it would surely be better than one with 4 or 5. What is to be done? Or, as the old recruitment poster has it: what did you do in the Great War?
...more
Max
Apr 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
I made it to roughly page 50 before the urge to give up overpowered anything else. This is a shockingly bad book, especially given how necessary its warnings are. Every sentence is unnecessarily convoluted; every paragraph is more disjointed and baffling than the next. It's virtually impossible to learn anything because wading through the prose and the useless asides takes so much effort. This is a total waste. Put it aside and wait until someone else writes the book this should have been.
Clare Snow
It's ok, planet earth will survive climate change (it has 4 times in the past). The species homo sapiens - not so much.
Mike

int. MIKE K. is seen walking down a narrow, wood-paneled hallway until he reaches the door to the office of his licensed PSYCHOTHERAPIST. The door being open, MK knocks on the frame, and his PT looks up from his desktop computer.

PT: Come in.

MK: They sent me up...?

PT: Quite right. You can sit down, I've just got to enter this last name in the schedule...

MK enters the pleasant, dimly lit room, and takes his customary place on the couch. To his right, an inch or two/>MK
...more
Bonnye Reed
GNab The most frightening thing about this book occurs early on. David Wallace-Wells is NOT an environmentalist, not a tree hugger, not one of us. And he is scared to death. He is frightened to the core, just as we baby boomer earth-mothers are. This is a book to open the eyes of those with their 'natural cycle' theories, their -'do something tomorrow' answers. Those with their fingers in the money pots of petroleum, coal and gas. Unfortunately he does give them another procrastinator excuse - m ...more
Katerina
I really detest the way the author/narrator had to. pause. before. every. word (as if trying to make us realize the whole horror of whatever’s coming our way) but the book made me think a lot, encouraged long discussions with my students and prompted me to actually start recycling plastic.
Well done, sir.
Lena
Jun 29, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, audio, nonfiction
I’m stopping at 20% because this is just a ripoff of Six Degrees interspersed with the musings of an average, and dislikable, American.

The author presents himself as someone who doesn’t really care about nature or in anyway changing the modern American lifestyle he’s living. His big idea is that maybe someone will have a big idea and things will be ok for the many kids he wants to have.

Sigh.

Better choices are The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of
...more
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David Wallace-Wells is a national fellow at the New America foundation and a columnist and deputy editor at New York magazine. He was previously the deputy editor of The Paris Review. He lives in New York City.
“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 comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an Arctic saga, unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matter of sea level and coastlines, not an enveloping crisis sparing no place and leaving no life undeformed; that it is a crisis of the “natural” world, not the human one; that those two are distinct, and that we live today somehow outside or beyond or at the very least defended against nature, not inescapably within and literally overwhelmed by it; that wealth can be a shield against the ravages of warming; that the burning of fossil fuels is the price of continued economic growth; that growth, and the technology it produces, will allow us to engineer our way out of environmental disaster; that there is any analogue to the scale or scope of this threat, in the long span of human history, that might give us confidence in staring it down. None of this is true. But let’s begin with the speed of change. The earth has experienced five mass extinctions before the one we are living through now, each so complete a wiping of the fossil record that it functioned as an evolutionary reset, the planet’s phylogenetic tree first expanding, then collapsing, at intervals, like a lung: 86 percent of all species dead, 450 million years ago; 70 million years later, 75 percent; 125 million years later, 96 percent; 50 million years later, 80 percent; 135 million years after that, 75 percent again. Unless you are a teenager, you probably read in your high school textbooks that these extinctions were the result of asteroids. In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs involved climate change produced by greenhouse gas. The most notorious was 250 million years ago; it began when carbon dioxide warmed the planet by five degrees Celsius, accelerated when that warming triggered the release of methane, another greenhouse gas, and ended with all but a sliver of life on Earth dead. We are currently adding carbon to the atmosphere at a considerably faster rate; by most estimates, at least ten times faster. The rate is one hundred times faster than at any point in human history before the beginning of industrialization. And there is already, right now, fully a third more carbon in the atmosphere than at any point in the last 800,000 years—perhaps in as long as 15 million years. There were no humans then. The oceans were more than a hundred feet higher.” 13 likes
“In fact, the belief that climate could be plausibly governed, or managed, by any institution or human instrument presently at hand is another wide-eyed climate delusion. The planet survived many millennia without anything approaching a world government, in fact endured nearly the entire span of human civilization that way, organized into competitive tribes and fiefdoms and kingdoms and nation-states, and only began to build something resembling a cooperative blueprint, very piecemeal, after brutal world wars—in the form of the League of Nations and United Nations and European Union and even the market fabric of globalization, whatever its flaws still a vision of cross-national participation, imbued with the neoliberal ethos that life on Earth was a positive-sum game. If you had to invent a threat grand enough, and global enough, to plausibly conjure into being a system of true international cooperation, climate change would be it—the threat everywhere, and overwhelming, and total. And yet now, just as the need for that kind of cooperation is paramount, indeed necessary for anything like the world we know to survive, we are only unbuilding those alliances—recoiling into nationalistic corners and retreating from collective responsibility and from each other. That collapse of trust is a cascade, too.” 11 likes
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