Prepare yourself for grisly descriptions of how the body breaks down in overwhelming heat, predictions of prehistoric plagues springing back to life beneath melting permafrost, and the possibility of an economic collapse several times worse than the Great Depression.
David Wallace-Wells’ dystopian vision of where we’re headed is guaranteed to scare the bejesus out of readers of his new book, The Uninhabitable Earth. Some will surely have to look away. Wallace-Wells, perhaps surprisingly, seems OK with that. More than a hundred pages in, he writes, “If you have made it this far, you are a brave reader.”
Based on the viral New York Magazine article that portrayed out a hellish future for humanity, the 230-page book is an immersion in seemingly all of the worst-case climate scenarios. It’s terrifying. The point is to get readers to confront “the scarier implications of the science,” Wallace-Wells told me an in email. More terrifying still: There are scarier scenarios that he didn’t touch.
When his original magazine article came out in 2017, science communicators and climatologists like Michael Mann criticized it for being “overly bleak.” Wallace-Wells argues that our dire situation merits an array of storytelling approaches, including ones that embrace the worst possibilities.
“[T]here is no single way to best tell the story of climate change, no single rhetorical approach likely to work on a given audience, and none too dangerous to try,” he writes in the new book. “Any story that sticks is a good one.”
Probably to distance myself from the book’s intentionally upsetting depictions of our predicament, I started writing down all the new words and phrases I encountered while reading it. (Yes, Grist writers have coping mechanisms, too.)
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…