I can see no reason this shouldn't become a textbook for students in discipline areas such as business and biology. But more so, it is the book the politicians, environmentalists, naysayers and basically everyone on earth must read. It is a terrifying book, more so than any horror novel or work of science fiction. That we have done this to ourselves, and cannot likely undo it, makes this an even more compelling read. Read it now. Savour every dark turn of phrase, ever dark fact - and pray. Pray hard that humanity comes to its senses. If it was me I would award this work the Nobel prize in literature, that is how compelling its story is. Oh what might have been if we had just listened to ourselves. Well done dear author, well done.
a wide-ranging appraisal of the state of climate change and our response to it. The risks are not glossed over or made palatable. A pretty good place for people to start on the subject or for others to be reminded of whats at stake.
I have tried to read this book through and found it incredibly infuriating. So much so that I had to stop a close reading after a third of the book repeated the same old litany again and again. I skimmed the rest, pausing on sections that might conceivably have shifted the narrative but to no avail,
Wallace-Wells does this thing where he switches between utterly dire predictions that are not likely (if there is 8 degrees of warming then...) and then stuff that could well happen based on 2 degrees. These predictions, whilst signposted, are made almost interchangeably and within a space of a few lines or paragraphs. The result is that the reader is left bewildered with methane burps and smallpox contagions sitting side by side with more drought and heavier rain. The general sense created is that things are gloomier than they in fact are.
He gives a lot of credit to bad news, and limited credit to good news. For instance, somehow ocean plastics get caught up in this climate change narrative. Yes, plastic in the oceans are bad, but they are not a climate change matter. It's also completely able to be solved. Similarly, air particulate pollution gets discussed. Again, not a climate change thing. A problem to be sure, but again, a problem that can be solved (and is being solved).
Any reference to potential (non government) solutions are as dismissed with cursory abandon, whilst potential dire side-effects of current developments are dwelled upon with relish. There is the usual technology utopian straw-man, those poor saps who naively believing in the ability for technology to solve for this problem, and the persistent belief that we just need to get the government to do something.
It's the attitude of researchers and policy types for whom, given their "totalising" narrative hammer, everything is a government policy problem. The trouble is that government does not solve these problems. Nor does government do so. The New Deals of the world are so uncommon, so ill-suited as a narrative for this problem that it's the perfect foil to form a narrative that we are all screwed.
What would be wonderful, and what these narratives so often miss, is how do we get distributed action to achieve these outcomes. For instance, we achieved immense suburban sprawl without any government encouragement. Indeed planning laws seek to constrain sprawl and government reacts to road congestion. Suburbia is a decentralised response to a set of system incentives and narratives, channeling vast amounts of largely private money into a particular outcome, perhaps driven by a particular model of the family. So how can similar be achieved to create a regenerative world? It's not impossible, and it's not going to be done by government or the academe.
The author positions this book as a voice of reason within a world that is wilfully blinding itself to a overwhelming problem. I tend to disagree. Instead, the book taps into the oldest narrative in the world, the narrative of "fear sells". But that's how fear sells - "you are all blind to this terrible thing that I am telling".
For many, this narrative is wonderful. It feels good to believe that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, that the only way forward is to create anew from a scorched earth. It's a bit of quiet narcissism, the belief that "because I can't work out how to fix this then nobody can".
I suspect that the real future will be much more humbling. A future of humanity moving forward in many different directions, with many people solving many problems, sometimes doing good things, sometimes not. Tipping points of technology rapidly reached, transforming the world in their own way. And all the while, governments and public policy types a good decade or so behind the action.