The Uninhabitable Earth Summary and Reviews

The Uninhabitable Earth

Life After Warming

by David Wallace-Wells

The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells X
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells
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Book Summary

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 annually.

This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await—food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today.

Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. If you weren't alarmed already, Wallace-Wells sounds the tocsin of toxicity. An urgent, necessary book." - Kirkus Reviews

"Powerfully argued... . A masterly analysis of why—with a world of solutions—we choose doom." - Nature

"The Uninhabitable Earth is the most terrifying book I have ever read. Its subject is climate change, and its method is scientific, but its mode is Old Testament... I read it with an unfolding mix of horror and hopelessness, the way you might learn of a terminal diagnosis that affects yourself and your family and everyone else you might ever hope to know." - The New York Times

"Most of us know 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, ashamed and proud of being a human." - Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated

"David Wallace-Wells argues that the impacts of climate change will be 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

"One of the very few books about our climate change emergency that doesn't sugarcoat the horror." - William T. Vollmann, author of No Immediate Danger

"This gripping, terrifying, furiously readable book is possibly the most wide-ranging account yet written of the ways in which climate change will transform every aspect of our lives, ranging from where we live to what we eat and the stories we tell. Essential reading for our ever-more-unfamiliar and unpredictable world." - Amitav Ghosh, author of Flood of Fire

"If we don't want our grandchildren to curse us, we had better read this book." - Timothy Snyder, author of Black Earth

"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. Unlike other writers who speak about human agency in the abstract, he zeros in on the power structures and capitalist elites whose mindless greed is writing an obituary for our grandchildren." - Mike Davis, author of Ecology of Fear

"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, author of Neuromancer

"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

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Reader Reviews

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CarolT

Almost a novel
If you weren't afraid of climate change before you read this, you definitely will be afterward. Note Wallace-Wells' ability to use word choice, sentence structure, and pacing to pull you in and keep you hooked.

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Author Information

David Wallace-Wells

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.

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