Summary and book reviews of The Future Earth by Eric Holthaus

The Future Earth

A Radical Vision for What's Possible in the Age of Warming

by Eric Holthaus

The Future Earth by Eric Holthaus X
The Future Earth by Eric Holthaus
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  • Paperback:
    Jun 2020, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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Book Summary

The first hopeful book about climate change, The Future Earth shows readers how to reverse the short- and long-term effects of climate change over the next three decades.

The basics of climate science are easy. We know it is entirely human-caused. Which means its solutions will be similarly human-led. In The Future Earth, leading climate change advocate and weather-related journalist Eric Holthaus ("the Rebel Nerd of Meteorology"—Rolling Stone) offers a radical vision of our future, specifically how to reverse the short- and long-term effects of climate change over the next three decades.

Anchored by world-class reporting, interviews with futurists, climatologists, biologists, economists, and climate change activists, it shows what the world could look like if we implemented radical solutions on the scale of the crises we face.

  • What could happen if we reduced carbon emissions by 50 percent in the next decade?
  • What could living in a city look like in 2030?
  • How could the world operate in 2040, if the proposed Green New Deal created a 100 percent net carbon-free economy in the United States?

This is the book for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the current state of our environment. Hopeful and prophetic, The Future Earth invites us to imagine how we can reverse the effects of climate change in our own lifetime and encourages us to enter a deeper relationship with the earth as conscientious stewards and to re-affirm our commitment to one another in our shared humanity.

Excerpt
The Future Earth

Hurricane Maria damaged or destroyed about 30 million trees, inflicting profound and unprecedented changes on the landscape. With the climate warming so quickly, biologists in Puerto Rico think the forests Maria destroyed will never return to their previous diversity. Many of the island's largest and slowest-growing hardwood trees, like tabonuco and balata, suffered the worst damage. Their vast canopies provide habitats for birds, bats, and tree frogs. If future hurricanes are as strong (or even stronger) than Maria, Puerto Rico's forests will eventually feature only smaller and shorter trees that are more resilient to high winds and scouring floods, which will leave local species without shelter. More than a year after the storm made landfall, satellite images showed that the island appeared definitively less green.

The storm of Hurricane Maria still hasn't let up. A full-fledged mental health crisis is ongoing throughout the island, "the largest psychosocial...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Future Earth is an attempt by meteorologist and science journalist Eric Holthaus to write a different kind of book about the current and future state of the environment. Holthaus is from Kansas, where irrigation for farming is draining the Ogallala Aquifer at an alarming rate. As a scientist, but also as a parent, he was desperate for some hope. Holthaus makes a clear case for the need for creativity and revolution. Drawing on the notion of the cyclical economy (also known as "doughnut economics," Kate Raworth's term), he imagines a move away from dichotomies like capitalism and socialism and towards schemes of stewardship and cooperation. We don't often recommend books with 3-star ratings on BookBrowse, but have chosen to feature this one because of the gravity of its message...continued

Full Review Members Only (823 words).

(Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
An encouraging and diligently researched call to action regarding the most pressing issue of our time.

Publishers Weekly
"[Holthaus] balances the doom-and-gloom by envisioning how, in the coming decades, humanity might remake food systems to be locally controlled, phase out fossil fuel use in transportation, and reform democracies to be more responsive to voters ... Serious and substantial, this will give readers plenty to consider.

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Beyond the Book

Solastalgia, Eco-anxiety and Ecological Grief

New Orleans flooded after Hurricane Katrina In The Future Earth, Eric Holthaus describes having climate-related depression. Over the last two decades, we have become more attuned to the mental effects of worry about the environment. In 2003, Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined the word "solastalgia," a variation on "nostalgia" that draws on the connotations of "desolation" and "solace." While "nostalgia" might be used to describe homesickness, solastalgia refers to a sense of mourning for a place that no longer exists. Inspired by his knowledge of the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales, a landscape irreversibly altered by coal mining and pollution, Albrecht defined the concept as "an emplaced or existential melancholia experienced with the negative ...

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