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February 25, 2019 – It is worse, much worse, than you think. 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. 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.
Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on 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.
“The Uninhabitable Earth is the most terrifying book I have ever read. Its subject is climate change, and its method is scientific, but its mode is Old Testament. The book is a meticulously documented, white-knuckled tour through the cascading catastrophes that will soon engulf our warming planet. . . . Wallace-Wells’s imagine-the-worst approach has become prescient. . . . I read it with an unfolding mix of horror and hopelessness, the way you might learn of a terminal diagnosis that affects yourself and your family and everyone else you might ever hope to know.” —Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times
“’The Uninhabitable Earth’ is unabashedly pornographic. It is also riveting. . . . Some readers will find Mr. Wallace-Wells’s outline of possible futures alarmist. He is indeed alarmed. You should be, too.” —The Economist
“Most of us know the gist, if not the details, of the climate change crisis. And yet it is almost impossible to sustain strong feelings about it. David Wallace-Wells has now provided the details, and with writing that is not only clear and forceful, but often imaginative and even funny, he has found a way to make the information deeply felt. This is a profound book, which simultaneously makes me terrified and hopeful about the future, ashamed and proud of being a human.” —Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated
“David Wallace-Wells argues that the impacts of climate change will be much graver than most people realize, and he’s right. The Uninhabitable Earth is a timely and provocative work.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction
“An excellent book. . . . Not since Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature thirty years ago have we been told what climate change will mean in such vivid terms.” —Fred Pearce, The Washington Post
“One of the very few books about our climate change emergency that doesn’t sugarcoat the horror.” —William T. Vollmann, author of No Immediate Danger
“Powerfully argued. . . . A masterly analysis of why—with a world of solutions—we choose doom.” —Nature
“This gripping, terrifying, furiously readable book is possibly the most wide-ranging account yet written of the ways in which climate change will transform every aspect of our lives, ranging from where we live to what we eat and the stories we tell. Essential reading for our ever-more-unfamiliar and unpredictable world.” —Amitav Ghosh, author of Flood of Fire
“Urgent and humane. . . . Wallace-Wells is an extremely adept storyteller. . . . A horrifying assessment of what we might expect as a result of climate change if we don’t change course.” —Susan Matthews, Slate
“If we don’t want our grandchildren to curse us, we had better read this book.” —Timothy Snyder, author of Black Earth
“Lively. . . . Vivid. . . . If you’ve snoozed through or turned away from the climate change news, this book will waken and update you. If you’re steeped in the unfolding climate drama, Wallace-Wells’s voice and perspective will be stimulating.” —David George Haskell, The Guardian
“Trigger warning: when scientists conclude that yesterday’s worst-case scenario for global warming is probably unwarranted optimism, it’s time to ask Scotty to beam you up. At least that was my reaction upon finishing Wallace-Wells’ brilliant and unsparing analysis of a nightmare that is no longer a distant future but our chaotic, burning present. Unlike other writers who speak about human agency in the abstract, he zeros in on the power structures and capitalist elites whose mindless greed is writing an obituary for our grandchildren.” —Mike Davis, author of Ecology of Fear
“A lucid and thorough description of our unprecedented crisis, and of the mechanisms of denial with which we seek to avoid its fullest recognition.” —William Gibson, author of Neuromancer
“David Wallace-Wells has produced a willfully terrifying polemic that reads like a cross between Stephen King and Stephen Hawking. The Uninhabitable Earth hits you like a comet, with an overflow of insanely lyrical prose about our pending Armageddon. Written with verve and insight and an eerie gusto for its own horrors, it comes just when we need it; it could not be more urgent than it is at this moment. I hope everyone will read it and be afraid.” —Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon
David Wallace-Wells is a national fellow at the New America foundation and a columnist and deputy editor at New York magazine. He was previously the deputy editor of The Paris Review. He lives in New York City.