The Uninhabitable Earth.

David Wallace-Wells
Penguin Random House $29.99

Reading David Wallace-Wells’ shocking “The Uninhabitable Earth”, should frighten anyone half to death and necessitate doubling his or her dose of anti-depressants.  David Wallace-Wells starts right off with “It is worse, much worse, than you think” and then takes great pains (yours) to ensure you swallow that.  

Wallace-Wells admits “I am not an environmentalist, and don’t even think of myself as a nature person.  I’ve lived my whole life in cities, enjoying gadgets built by industrial supply chains I hardly think twice about.  I’ve never gone camping, not willingly anyway, and while I always thought it was basically a good idea to keep streams clean and air clear, I also always accepted the proposition that there was a trade-off between economic growth and cost to nature—and figured, well, in most cases I’d probably go for growth.”  

David Wallace-Wells investigates many more-than-likely disasters.  He notes that even the “optimistic” Paris accord targeting 2 degrees will result in a 2 metre rise in sea levels, but the more likely outcome is somewhere between 4 and 8 metres by 2100.  

He attempts to reassure his readers things are going to be o.k. :  “We found a way to engineer devastation, and we can find a way to engineer our way out of it – or, rather, engineer our way to a degraded muddle, but one that nevertheless extends the promise of new generations finding their own way forward, perhaps toward some brighter environmental future.”  

It’s going to get so bad that finally, it could only get better, somehow, maybe, well, in your dreams.  

John Stockard

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