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The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,420 ratings  ·  367 reviews
"The Uninhabitable Earth hits you like a comet, with an overflow of insanely lyrical prose about our pending Armageddon."--Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

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, wildfir
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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4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,420 ratings  ·  367 reviews

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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
32nd book for 2019.

Must read! Must read! Must read!

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 pu
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: Heat Death, H
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
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
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!

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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 might handl
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
Feb 15, 2019 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
David answers questions via Reddit


Direct Heat
Since 1980, the planet has experienced a fiftyfold increase in the number of dangerous [to human life] heat waves; a bigger increase is to come.

Food as Pollution
To avoid dangerous climate change, Greenpeace has estimated that the world needs to cut its meat and dairy consumption in half by 2050; everything we know about what happens when countries get wealthier suggests this will be close to impos
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
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is journalism done (mostly) right. Not every journalist has the time to devote to a single subject. This is why, despite doing their best at covering various scientific papers in the media, journalists often get the details wrong. They create headlines that are sensational or represent findings that are not justified by the papers they have read. I think they do what they can to be educated but they are journalists, not scientists. And so, their knowledge about science and methods is often ...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
Teresa Grabs
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Uninhabitable Earth reminds me of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. There are a million things wrong with how humans use, and abuse, the natural world, but there are things that can be done. The overall writing style makes a dull story, but the content made me want to keep reading.
Frederick Gault
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
The author talks about humanity's existential threats, but also how humans respond to this really urgent news. Some don't want to know, others lapse into despair.

The author does a good job of pointing out that our future is really unknown. Most importantly, how will humans behave to try and save the biosphere. If somehow we all pull together we may be able to mute the worst of our possible futures. Also, he acknowledges that future technology is a possible game-changer, although he is not optim
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.

This Changes Everything Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you Net Galley for the free ARC.

This book should scare you to death and I am almost glad that I am an older human and probably won't be around for many of the predicted events. Heat death, droughts, floodings, drownings, crop failure...the list goes on. The only thing that gives me hope is that the inventiveness of the human race usually pulls us out. Let's hope.
All told, this is really not as pessimistic as it could be. Nor is it alarmist. Just realist. The author encourages action instead than despair. He’s a journalist rather than a scientist; here he helpfully distills the undeniable science of climate change, going system by system to show all the effects it will have on human society.
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrifying look at what climate change will do to all life on this planet.
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.
Adam Johnson
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
I have tried to read this book through and found it incredibly infuriating. So much so that I had to stop a close reading after a third of the book repeated the same old litany again and again. I skimmed the rest, pausing on sections that might conceivably have shifted the narrative but to no avail,

Wallace-Wells does this thing where he switches between utterly dire predictions that are not likely (if there is 8 degrees of warming then...) and then stuff that could well happen based on 2 degree
Whitney Milam
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most important book anyone could be reading right now.

The emergent portrait of suffering is, I hope, horrifying. It is also, entirely, elective. 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. If we avert it, it will be because we have chosen to walk a different path, and endure. The climate system that gave rise to the human species, and to everything
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, shit.

The number of books laying out how bad (and in how many ways) it is about to get will only keep growing, but this one does it well enough that I could see it setting the standard for a while. Aside from providing a succinct summary of the Very Bad News ("If you have made it this far, you are a brave reader."- pg 138), I think the book's big strength is its refusal to accept wishful thinking of any brand. A sudden Silicon Valley miracle that saves us and allows business to continue as
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For someone who normally does not read a lot of nonfiction, it seems like I've already more than met my quota for 2019. And yet here I am with another one.

This one has gotten quite a lot of notice and it is still in the top ten of best sellers in the country. But what a depressing read! It is certainly not what one would want to be reading when one isn't feeling on top of the world, but I had already started it at the time I became ill recently and I persevered and finally completed it on the da
Mack Hayden
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world, politics, science
Good Lord, this is a bleak book. While Wallace-Wells still leaves room for improvement on climate change, it's fairly obvious we're nowhere near a place as a planet to take the sweeping action necessary. This is a catalogue of catastrophes yet to come and it's worth reading just to have an idea of where our world is heading. It's impressive that, even despite the dire content of the book, he never comes across as needlessly alarmist or hyperbolic. Everything here is presented with equanimity and ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Every human being.
The Uninhabitable Earth reveals the true pace and severity of climate change. The damage we’ve inflicted upon Earth and its ecosystemsts to date is frightening; I had no comprehension whatsoever of how bad circumstances have become, and yet the consequences we see and feel today pale by comparison to the dramatic changes we’re likely to confront in coming decades. After reading this book, I think it’s fair to say that the general public are completely unaware of the cumulative shitstorm we’ve ch ...more
Tammam Aloudat
It should be the case that hope is a stronger motivator for change than fear, but if fear would ever work, it would be the kind of unrelenting, aggressive, and totally real fear this book imposes. I had a horrified expression throughout and it is still imprinted on my face.

Global warming and climate change are absolutely coming and we are on the very edge of being very very late to do anything about them. It is still possible to keep warming to a degree where it is only catastrophic but not nece
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Very interesting read. Enjoyed it a lot
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A solid compendium by a journalist rather than a scientist of how climate change is already affecting us and what further warming will bring. Some of the writing obscures rather than clarifies, but the first half of the book particularly provides some serious food for thought.
Lance L
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Three and a half stars

This is either preaching to the choir or howling into the void, depending on the reader. Which is to say, none of this is new, all of it is important, and it won’t make a damn bit of difference because if you still need this book at this time then you’re not going to be convinced by anything as minor as “facts” anyway so what’s the point. Sorry. This is a well-written, highly effective jeremiad and I am clearly highly affected. I do wonder at the author’s frequent, often no
Donna Hines
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, netgalley
It's not about invoking panic but it's about saving what we have.
This is about climate change not weather changes so please know the difference and tell our President!
If you're not on board you should be as it's detrimental to not only the day to day operations but to our health.
In layman terms what will you eat? How will you survive? What will you do to change the current downward spiral?
The Uninhabitable Earth tackles so many vital and crucially impor
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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.
“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.” 3 likes
“Humans, like all mammals, are heat engines; surviving means having to continually cool off, as panting dogs do. For that, the temperature needs to be low enough for the air to act as a kind of refrigerant, drawing heat off the skin so the engine can keep pumping. At seven degrees of warming, that would become impossible for portions of the planet’s equatorial band, and especially the tropics, where humidity adds to the problem. And the effect would be fast: after a few hours, a human body would be cooked to death from both inside and out. At eleven or twelve degrees Celsius of warming, more than half the world’s population, as distributed today, would die of direct heat. Things almost certainly won’t get that hot anytime soon, though some models of unabated emissions do bring us that far eventually, over centuries. But at just five degrees, according to some calculations, whole parts of the globe would be literally unsurvivable for humans. At six, summer labor of any kind would become impossible in the lower Mississippi Valley, and everybody in the United States east of the Rockies would suffer more from heat than anyone, anywhere, in the world today. New York City would be hotter than present-day Bahrain, one of the planet’s hottest spots, and the temperature in Bahrain “would induce hyperthermia in even sleeping humans.” 3 likes
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