... brilliant ... At the heart of Wallace-Wells’s book is a remorseless, near-unbearable account of what we are doing to our planet ... gives readers’ emotions a thorough workout along that pessimism-to-despair spectrum, before we are brought round to the writer’s 'acceptance of responsibility.' I stress the emotional aspect because it is crucial: We are facing a call to action that we are, on the evidence of our behavior so far, likely to ignore, unless we directly feel its urgency.
If climate change is, as this book successfully argues, a game-changer for everyone, everywhere, all the time, then let’s reflect that in the discourse ... David Wallace-Wells offers a good starting point. His book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, scares us with tales from a future climate-changed world that transcend climate science. Not since Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature 30 years ago have we been told what climate change will mean in such vivid terms ... the dynamic of optimism vs. pessimism over the future [is] something Wallace-Wells deals with well ... The most interesting part of this excellent book is where Wallace-Wells moves on to wonder whether this pattern of climate denial might continue into a 'hothouse Earth' of supercyclones, megafloods, droughts without end and killer heat waves.
Wallace-Wells avoids the 'eerily banal language of climatology' in favor of lush, rolling prose. The sentences in this book are potent and evocative, though after a while of envisioning such unremitting destruction — page upon page of toddlers dying, plagues released by melting permafrost and wildfires incinerating tourists at seaside resorts — I began to feel like a voyeur at an atrocity exhibition ... Wait — what? I found this lurching between sweet hopefulness on the one hand and lurid pessimism on the other to be bewildering, like a heat wave followed by a blizzard. But then Wallace-Wells has resolved to offer something other than the standard narrative of climate change and collective action, which 'is, dramatically, a snore.'