A chilling, groundbreaking portrait of the near future if global warming continues unchecked
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. But these are only a preview of the changes to come. The slowness of this phenomenon is a kind of fairy tale, with more than half of the carbon of the carbon ever emitted from fossil fuels released in just the last three decades.
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, even with the lifetime of a teenager today. Without a revolution in how we approach the environment and adjustments to 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.
The Uninhabitable Earth is a searing indictment of our failure to imagine, much less enact, a better future for humanity. It goes beyond the science of warming to explore how the changing planet will transform our politics, our culture, our sense of history and our hope for the future—how it will shape and color and distort nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today.
In his travelogue of our near future, Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the troubles that await—food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the world economy and political order. Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the meaning of 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.