Features

Book in the news: a relentlessly grim portrayal of the future

The Uninhabitable EarthDavid Wallace wells paints an alarming picture of the hell that is the earth of the future.

The-Uninhabitable-Earth-100

Life After Warming

Allen Lane, £20

Buy on Amazon

The scientific consensus is that man-made global warming (or climate change as it is more accurately known) is taking place, but many still argue that its impact will be so limited that it's not worth taking the necessary steps to bring it under control.

It is safe to say that journalist David Wallace-Wells does not fall into this camp. His latest book expands on a "widely read" magazine article he wrote two years ago that argued that "climate change is upon us and there are indeed scenarios of the future which, while uncertain, are grim", as Roger Pielke points out in the Financial Times.

For a relatively short book, The Uninhabitable Earth "covers a great deal of cursed ground drought, floods, wildfires, economic crises, political instability, the collapse of the mythof progress", says MarkO'Connell in The Guardian. Indeed, at times it feels like "taking a hop-on, hop-off tour of the future's sprawling hellscape", so many readers may find it "relentlessly grim reading".

However, this "alarmist" tone makes it "extremely effective" in shaking the reader out of the "complacency" that Wallace-Wells claims is responsible for fuelling what he terms "climate denialism".

The book makes the case that climate change is an "existential threat to civilisation", says Mark Lynas, an environmental activist, in The Times. But the "constant, continued shouts of emergency" risk becoming "part of a numbing background hum", making the reader "switch off".

And Wallace-Wells's conclusion "that there is no realistic solution to global warming" is too pessimistic. The truth is that we are "not powerless to solve climate change in a technical sense it is just that politically and psychologically we do not want to take the difficult decisions that would be necessary to do so".

Most Popular

Are UK house prices set to fall? It’s not so simple
House prices

Are UK house prices set to fall? It’s not so simple

Figures suggest UK house prices are starting to slide, but we shouldn’t take these numbers at face value, explains Rupert Hargreaves.
11 Aug 2022
Is gold cheap relative to equities?
Gold price

Is gold cheap relative to equities?

Dominic Frisby looks at the Dow-gold ratio and explains why gold is starting to appear inexpensive compared to equities.
12 Aug 2022
The energy price cap keeps rising - here is what you can do about it
Personal finance

The energy price cap keeps rising - here is what you can do about it

The energy price cap could hit £5,000 next year, even higher than expected, predicts energy consultancy Auxilione. Saloni Sardana explains what you ca…
12 Aug 2022