Once you’ve read an excellent book about climate change, which Jeff Goodell’s The Water Will Come most certainly is, you can never unremember the facts ... After this year’s calamitous flooding in Houston and the Caribbean, The Water Will Come is depressingly well-timed, though I’m guessing all good books about this subject will be from now on.
Goodell talks about climate change and what it means to every person on the planet in a way that will engage even the non-Nova crowd. Yet at times the book is repetitive. Amid swirls of statistics come the same points over and over: Fossil fuels get much of the blame. Millions of people will be displaced as water moves inland permanently. Many also will lose their livelihoods and life savings invested in their homes. Policymakers move at a glacial pace. Real estate developers refuse to heed warnings. People who believe in climate change will find themselves nodding and tsk-tsking as they zip through this easy-to-read volume. Global-warming skeptics might want to invest in some diving gear.
If there was ever a moment when Americans might focus on drainage, this is it. But this fine volume (which expands on [Goodell's] reporting in Rolling Stone) concentrates on the slower and more relentless toll that water will take on our cities and our psyches in the years to come.
...[an] engaging book ... Goodell circles the globe, interviewing scientists and those responsible for keeping people and their homes above water, observing how cities and nations, many already dealing with more frequent flooding and seawater contamination of freshwater sources, are able to adapt varies widely because of differing economic and political conditions. For some, it will mean building vast seawalls to shore up existing development, for others it will mean elevating infrastructure or abandoning low-lying regions and islands within a few generations.
While Goodell occasionally seems to be leaning heavily on those areas where assignments have sent him, overall, this is a well-rounded, persuasive survey. Notes of hope about the possibilities afforded by human flexibility and ingenuity occasionally lighten some of the grimness. A frightening, scientifically grounded, and starkly relevant look at how climate change will affect coastal cities.