A reading club with a view to the future

053 David Wallace-Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth

The consequences of climate change are not only much worse than we think, but they are also arriving far more quickly than we realize.

David Wallace-Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth


David Wallace-Wells argues that the impacts of climate change will be much more catastrophic than most people believe. He presents a detailed account of the numerous ways that global warming is already affecting the planet and how it is likely to affect it in the future. Wallace-Wells argues that our failure to take action on climate change is not a result of a lack of information, but rather a failure of imagination.


Title: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Author: David Wallace-Wells

Publishing year: 2011

Publisher: Tim Duggan Books

Length in hours: 8 hours and 33 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Climate change is already having profound and catastrophic effects on the planet, including rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and mass extinction.
  2. The consequences of climate change are likely to be far worse than most people believe, with the potential for global conflicts, mass migration, and widespread suffering.
  3. The impacts of climate change are arriving much more quickly than anticipated, making it increasingly urgent to take action to mitigate its effects.
  4. Our current economic and political systems are not equipped to deal with the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, and significant changes are necessary to address it.
  5. Despite the challenges and obstacles, there is still hope for addressing the climate crisis, but it will require collective action and a significant shift in our cultural values and priorities.
David Wallace-Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth

5 funny quotes

  1. "It is worse, much worse, than you think."
  2. "Climate change is going to happen faster than we think."
  3. "The prospect of a ruined planet is now very real."
  4. "The effects of climate change have already arrived."
  5. "The Earth is not dying, it is being killed."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Climate change is not a binary issue, not a matter of ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but a graded phenomenon, whose impacts will intensify if we fail to reduce carbon emissions drastically and rapidly."
  2. "The age of climate panic is here."
  3. "What follows, then, is a kind of primer on climate change, designed to serve as a field guide to this future."
  4. "It is worse, much worse, than you think."
  5. "The Earth has already begun to move outside the range of natural variability to which it has been limited throughout human history."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing economic growth with environmental protection.
  2. Deciding how to allocate resources to prepare for and respond to climate change.
  3. Addressing climate change in the face of political polarization and denialism.
  4. Weighing the risks of geoengineering to combat climate change.
  5. Dealing with the ethical implications of climate change, such as climate refugees and intergenerational justice.

5 examples

  1. The wildfires in California in 2017, which burned more than 1.2 million acres and killed 46 people.
  2. Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, which killed more than 3,000 people and caused over $90 billion in damage.
  3. The Australian bushfires of 2019-2020, which burned more than 46 million acres and killed at least 34 people.
  4. The melting of the Arctic, which is causing the extinction of species like the polar bear.
  5. The destruction of coral reefs due to warming oceans, threatening marine ecosystems and food chains.

Referenced books

  1. "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate" by Naomi Klein
  2. "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" by Elizabeth Kolbert
  3. "The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions" by Peter Brannen
  4. "The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World" by Jeff Goodell
  5. "Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming" edited by Paul Hawken

Share a quote

"Climate change is the ultimate justice issue; it’s going to play out over centuries and it’s easy to forget that we’re making choices for people we’ll never meet."

David Wallace-Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth
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