Book Review- The Uninhabitable Earth

I got a bit a side-tracked about toilets in my post about Dishonesty Is The Second Best Policy but for this book, I can think of no better place to read it, as it might make you shit yourself. The Uninhabitable Earth is a terrifying eye-opener into the devastating scale and cataclysmic complexity of Climate Change, in his opening sentence David Wallace-Wells sums it up rather nicely- ‘It is worse, much worse than you think’. I read this back in February and have just about recovered, it is quite concerning, to massively understate. Along with Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction, this book is fundamental reading to get to grips with the seriousness and wide-ranging impacts of the most important challenge the human race, and every other living thing on this planet faces.

The first line of the book is justified throughout. The myriad ways in which our species is driving the planet past breaking point would be impressive if it wasn’t so deadly. As a result of greed-fuelled ravaging of natural resources and mindless overconsumption, the natural processes that have been moulded over millions of years, are breaking down and the results will be devastating. Through his analysis of the International Panel on Climate Change’s reports and hundreds of other scientific papers, Wallace-Wells lays out the cascading effects of climate change and the catastrophic effects it will have on the natural world, and on mankind. All the research is translated into accessible laymen terms so the reader can grasp a clearer understanding of the changes expected at different temperature rises, the changes that will happen if we stop polluting now, the effects of meeting the Paris Climate Accord and the disastrous results of ignoring the signs and proceeding with business as normal. They are all frightening.

In the second part of the book, Wallace-Wells goes into more detail about each fatal fragment of climate change. On the whole, it is hard to understand the scale and complexity, like trying to work the internet, but in these shorter, specialised chapters the problems are dissected and the results laid bare. Each section is alarming, from heat death and food shortages to climate conflicts and water scarcity, the wide-reaching effects are startling. The industrial revolution starting pull at a thread, and now the whole ball is unravelling.

It is hard to have hope after reading this grim prediction, but I found some in knowing the author harbours it. If he can research and write such a startling book but still believe we will overcome the challenges, preserve the natural world and build a sustainable future, then I can too. He knows more about it than me. The first step to change is awareness, and that is what this book brings in bucketloads. Awareness, motivation to change and fear. Humans can do a lot with inspiration like that.

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