"The Uninhabitable Earth" isn't just a book title, it's a warning.
A new study and a new book both argue that the worst-case scenario for global warming would literally render the planet uninhabitable.
The book is entitled “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming” and is written by New York Magazine editor David Wallace-Wells; it is an expansion of his controversial viral article published in July 2017 with the same title. As of Feb. 26, it is number 11 on the Amazon best-seller list — a rarity for any climate book, but perhaps another sign of the growing interest in strong climate action.
The book, published just last week, makes the case that without dramatic climate action, we are headed for catastrophic warming of 7°F (4°C) above pre-industrial temperatures by 2100 — a world of ever-worsening megadroughts and endless food shortages.
But, as Wallace-Wells warns, even the unlikely worst-case warming scenario of 14.4°F (8°C) is possible if we keep on a path of high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions — and if the climate response is at the high end of the estimated range. Warming of this magnitude would essentially render the world uninhabitable, where little arable land survives and the oceans eventually rise more than 200 feet.
Meanwhile, a new study published Monday in Nature Geoscience led by NASA senior scientist Tapio Schneider looks at one way that the worst-case scenario could get much worse.
The study looks at what happens if we triple atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 1200 parts per million (ppm) from their current level of 410 ppm. This is unlikely, but still possible given current rates of emissions, especially if we trigger key amplifying feedbacks — such as the release of vast quantities of CO2 from the melting Arctic permafrost.
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"The Uninhabitable Earth hits you like a comet, with an overflow of insanely lyrical prose about our pending Armageddon."—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon
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.
This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.
In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await—food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today.
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.
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It’s a shove off the fence post and a call to action--The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming will not be satisfied until barriers to understanding climate change are obliterated. David Wallace-Wells taps into our collective survival instinct by challenging our individual roles in this all-encompassing issue.
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What does this ZIP Reads Summary Include?
- Synopsis of the original book
- Key takeaways from each chapter
- The 11 elements of chaos brought by climate change
- The socio-political ramifications of inaction
- What we can do to fix it
- Editorial Review Background on David Wallace-Wells
David Wallace-Wells has a message for the citizens of the earth - and it isn’t pretty. A zenith has been reached and it is all downhill from here as climate change cascades over everything we have built in the industrial age. He explores each aspect of what climate change means for us today, in thirty years, and by the end of the century, depending largely on what we choose to do today. The likely results of just two, three, and four degrees of warming seems increasingly alarming, as well they should be, but we have the tools to slow the cataclysm of the Anthropocene. Will the world awaken from its narcissistic state of complacency in time?
DISCLAIMER: This book is intended as a companion to, not a replacement for, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. ZIP Reads is wholly responsible for this content and is not associated with the original author in any way.
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