Book: The Uninhabitable Earth
Author: David Wallace-Wells
Genre: Nonfiction / Horror
Who Should read this book: EVERYONE.
This book was an anxiety inducing horror story. It was that kind of book where everything you read was so terrible but you couldn’t look away. With every fact Wallace-Wells (hereafter W-W because I’m lazy) presented in this book, I became more sad but also more interested. This is an impressive work, a collection of all the climate science out there today. It was nice to have it all in one place. And W-W organised his tragic information into clear and concise chapters, 12 chapters to be exact, of all the ways climate change will effect the human race.
Writing: 3.5/4 points. W-W writes in an organized and clear sense. Though he has a tendency to ramble and his favourite word is clearly quotidian judging by the frequency it is used in the book. Overall, this book was a quick study, well laid out, concise and clear…portraying quite surely our imminent doom.
Relevance: 2/2 points. This book is very important. Everyone I know is going to be told to read this book. You wanna borrow it? Here. Just give it back when you’re done so I can shove it under someone else’s nose. It is shocking to me how little of the information in this book I was actually aware of. I have been vegan for almost 6 years and I have watched so many documentaries and read so many books about the lifestyle. I am mainly vegan for the environment! I knew about the agricultural industry’s massive contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and destruction of rain forests. So I stopped contributing to it. But there is so much more I can do, and so much more you can do!
The book doesn’t have a lot of tips for changes we can make, it is more a summary of the current science and what is definitely going to happen to the planet in the next decade, and what is probably going to happen in the next three decades. W-W does imply that we can and should make changes to try and make the damage decrease, but there is inevitable damage, unstoppable damage to come anyways. His brief suggestions for improvement include, renewable energy resources being our sole energy source, fossil fuels must be eliminated. He also suggests a complete shift away from beef and dairy.
Feel: 2.5/3 points. This book is sad. W-W details much of the destruction climate change has already done to our planet. The sheer volume of hurricanes, flooding, forest fires and other natural disasters that have occurred in the past 10 years is insane. These are all a result of increasing temperatures. This book doesn’t even talk about the effects on flora and fauna. Probably because we’ve been hearing about species extinction for decades and it has had no effect on the way we behave. This book is meant to warn humans of what their actions over just the past 30 years have done to this planet. We have fucked up, and we are out of time to fix it. We can only hope to make it less awful.
Overall I urge you to read this book and then think critically about what you can do to lower your carbon footprint. My friend Trish commented on my recent Instagram post about this book, “We don’t need 100 people going green perfectly, we need billions of people going green imperfectly.” @cozytrishreads And this is a great way of putting it. You don’t have to go vegan, but you can give up beef. You don’t have to go out and buy a Tesla, but you can walk or bike places a little more often than driving. You don’t have to become a climate activist, but you can talk about it with your friends and family and share in a discussion about this SERIOUS PROBLEM.
That’s my review. Now I’m going to talk about some of the stats presented in the book that stood out most to me. W-W has researched this data extensively and everything is cited accurately so I’m pretty sure we can say these are scientific facts…or my opinion on these scientific facts.
“In fact, more than half of the carbon exhaled into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels has been emitted in just the past three decades.” (page 4)
Guys, I’m 32, which means in the span of my life we have poisoned the atmosphere just as much as everyone else since the Industrial revolution. It wasn’t me right? I was a kid. So does the blame all fall on my parents generation? Unfortunately, in my opinion, yes, sorry mom and dad. But the blame also falls heavily on my grandparents generation. My parents have a lot of siblings, my husbands parents have even more than mine. Me and my husband? We each have one sibling. The baby boomer generation had too many babies and now we are overpopulated and producing more than our planet can handle. But it’s not even just that, it’s the attitude of consumption and materialism. My grandparents survived the depression and began to accumulate. My parents learned this behaviour from them, and I learned it from them! We are on generation three of mass consumerism. And my generation is the worst yet because of the internet. We are used to instant gratification and Amazon prime. And here is where the fate of humanity rests in my hands, in my generation’s hands. If we do not make changes now, the next generation will blame us too.
“To avoid dangerous climate change, Greenpeace has estimated that the world needs to cut it’s meat and dairy consumption in half by 2050.” (page 54)
If you read that sentence and thought we don’t need to do that yet, read it again. BY 2050. That means we need to start now. So please do me a favour and hop off the band wagon of charcuterie boards laden with meats and cheeses, and make a veggie platter instead.
“When trees die – by natural processes, by fire, at the hands of humans – they release into the atmosphere the carbon stored within them, sometimes for as long as centuries. In this way, they are like coal. Which is why the effect of wildfires on emissions is among the most feared climate feedback loops – that the world’s forests, which have typically been carbon sinks, would become carbon sources, unleashing all that stored gas.” (page 76)
This quote is from the chapter called Wildfire where it is detailed the amount of wild forest fires we have had over the past 30 years. Just last year Liam Hemsworth the yummy, lost his home in a California wildfire. The feedback loop is that these fires are caused by increasing temperatures, and then they are releasing carbon as they burn…causing more temperature increase.
There are so many more, some even more terrifying. The chapter on climate wars made me want to immediately buy a big junk of land and put an impenetrable fence around it. But we need to take these stats as a catalyst for change. We don’t want all these bad things to happen, if we do nothing…they will.