The signs of climate change are unmistakable even today, but the real transformations have hardly begun. For a generation, we've been taught that warming was a problem of arctic melting and sea levels rising, but in fact it promises to be all-enveloping, driving dramatic changes at every level of our lives, from everyday matters like the supply of chocolate and coffee (likely to dry up) to public health (tens of millions likely to die from pollution) to climate migration (hundreds of millions fleeing unlivable, overheated homelands). We've been taught that warming would be slow-but, barring very dramatic action, each of these impacts is likely to arrive within the length of a new home mortgage signed this year.
What will it be like to live on a planet pummeled in these ways? What will it do to our politics, our economy, our culture and sense of history? What will it mean for our collective appetite for climate action? And what explains the fact we have done so little to stop it? These are not abstract scientific questions but immediate and pressing human dramas, dilemmas and nightmares. In The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells undertakes a new kind of storytelling and a new kind of social science to explore the era of human history on which we have just embarked.
David Wallace-Wells is deputy editor of New York magazine, where he also writes frequently about climate change and the near future of science and technology. In July 2017 he published a cover story surveying the landscape of worst-case scenarios for global warming that became an immediate sensation, reaching millions of readers on its first day and, in less than a week, becoming the most-read story the magazine had ever published -and sparking an unprecedented debate, ongoing still today among scientists and journalists, about just how we should be thinking, and talking, about the planetary threat from climate change.
A lucid and thorough description of our unprecedented crisis, and of the mechanisms of denial with which we seek to avoid its fullest recognition. -- William Gibson Trigger warning: when scientists conclude that yesterday's worst-case scenario for global warming is probably unwarranted optimism, it's time to ask Scotty to beam you up. At least that was my reaction upon finishing Wallace-Wells' brilliant and unsparing analysis of a nightmare that is no longer a distant future but our chaotic, burning present. -- Mike Davis David Wallace-Wells argues that the impacts of climate change will much graver than most people realize, and he's right. The Uninhabitable Earth is a timely and provocative work. -- Elizabeth Kolbert, author of 'The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History' If we don't want our grandchildren to curse us, we had better read this book. -- Timothy Snyder, author of 'On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twenty-first Century' If there are people around to write history books in the future, they will look back at the @ExtinctionR protestors and think they were the sanest people of our time. Read The Uninhabitable Earth by @dwallacewells if you don't know why. Johann Hari, Twitter On [Alexandra] Ocasio-Cortez's office bookshelf, near a picture of her late father and a photo of her with a local Girl Scout troop, two books nestle together in uneasy union. One is the Federalist papers. The other is The Uninhabitable Earth. Time magazine profile on Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez Yes, this book will scare you, but it will also prompt you to take action to ensure the damage we as humans have done to the planet is stopped. Stylist, Your Guide to the Best Books of 2019 Just finished The Uninhabitable Earth by @dwallacewells. Everyone, everywhere, should read it. Can't remember the last time a book had such an impact on me. -- Rutger Bregman, author of 'Utopia for Realists' Twitter The Uninhabitable Earth hits you like a comet, with an overflow of insanely lyrical prose about our pending armageddon. -- Andrew Solomon Most of us known the gist, if not the details, of the climate change crisis. And yet it is almost impossible to sustain strong feelings about it. David Wallace-Wells has now provided the details, and with writing that is not only clear and forceful, but often imaginative and even funny, he has found a way to make the information deeply felt. This is a profound book, which simultaneously makes me terrified and hopeful about the future, full of regret and new will. -- Jonathan Safran Foer Yes, this book will scare you, but it will also prompt you to take action to ensure the damage we as humans have done to the planet is stopped. Stylist, `Your guide to 2019's best non-fiction books' Exceptionally well researched and written. . . . This short, concise book pulls no punches. -- Mitch Friedman, executive director, Conservation Northwest If you read just one work of non-fiction this year, it should probably be [this] . . . What this book forces you to face is more important than any other subject you could be informing yourself about. -- David Sexton The Evening Standard In his gripping new book ... Wallace-Wells shocks us out of complacency' Prospect Well-written, captivating, occasionally wry and utterly petrifying i News A very accessible and compelling read . . . a much more nuanced and a much more hopeful vision than you might expect. The Irish Times A book that's by turns alarming, terrifying and just downright bleak . . . a sustained piece of informed polemic. The Evening Standard Wake up! Get educated - The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells is a great place to start. -- Paris Lees Vogue Everyone should stop what they're doing and read The Uninhabitable Earth by @dwallacewells. This is our future if we don't act now. -- Johann Hari Twitter Not since Bill McKibben's "The End of Nature" 30 years ago have we been told what climate change will mean in such vivid terms. -- Fred Pearce The Washington Post Brilliant ... At the heart of Wallace-Wells's book is a remorseless, near-unbearable account of what we are doing to our planet The New York Times There is much to learn from this book. From media and scientific reports of the past decade, Wallace-Wells sifts key predictions and conveys them in vivid prose. -- David George Haskell The Observer Enough to induce an honest-to-God panic attack ... The margins of my review copy of the book are scrawled with expressions of terror and despair, declining in articulacy as the pages proceed, until it's all just cartoon sad faces and swear words ... To read The Uninhabitable Earth is to understand the collapse of the distinction between alarmism and plain realism -- Mark O'Connell The Guardian Wallace-Wells is an extremely adept storyteller, simultaneously urgent and humane . . . [he] does a terrifyingly good job of moving between the specific and the abstract. Slate Skipping the scientific jargon and relaying the facts in urgent and elegant prose, the magazine editor crafts a stirring wake-up call to recognize how global warming will permanently alter every aspect of human life. -- Best Nonfiction Books of 2019 So Far Time Riveting . . . Some readers will find Mr Wallace-Wells's outline of possible futures alarmist. He is indeed alarmed. You should be, too. The Economist I've not stopped talking about The Uninhabitable Earth since I opened the first page. And I want every single person on this planet to read it. A must-read. It's not only the grandkids and the kids: it's you. And it's not only those in other countries: it's you. -- Margaret Atwood Twitter The most terrifying book I have ever read . . . a meticulously documented, white-knuckled tour through the cascading catastrophes that will soon engulf our warming planet. The New York Times Relentless, angry journalism of the highest order. Read it and, for the lack of any more useful response, weep. . . .The article was a sensation and the book will be, too. -- Bryan Appleyard The Sunday Times 'A masterly analysis' Nature 'Clear, engaging and often dazzling' The Telegraph In crystalline prose, Wallace-Wells provides a devastating overview of where we are in terms of climate crisis and ecological destruction, and what the future will hold if we keep on going down the same path. Urgently readable, this is an epoch-defining book. -- Matt Haig, 'The Book that Changed My Mind' The Guardian