Thursday, October 14, 2021

The uninhabitable earth - David Wallace-Wells

This book about climate change - global warming in particular - is a tough one. Both because it’s not an easy read - especially the first part, so full of technical details, facts and figures, many, many of them - and because it’s a very alarmist text: the worst case scenario that it depicts is a grim one. And even if you take into account the base case scenario, well, it’s not a merry one either. Basically, we might be doomed. Damage has already been done, and that will hardly be fixed in the near future. Even worse, more damage is being added by the year, at a considerable speed. We might just have a few decades to reverse the tide before it’s too late, and judging by the global level of commitment and coordination, that could turn out to be an extremely long shot.
The author lists the elements of chaos unleashed by anthropogenic global warming: heath death, hunger, drowning, wildfire, disasters no longer natural, freshwater drain, dying oceans, unbreathable air, plagues of warming, economic collapse, climate conflict. We’re not talking about some tipping point reaching which disaster will occur: it’s an ongoing process, already underway, that will entail a lot of painful readjusting. Each one of the listed elements gets worse with increasing temperatures. Just consider the “disasters no longer natural” item, for instance: plot the trend of the number and severity of recent tropical storms and wildfires and see if you smell anything funny. Follow that trend and try to figure out what it leads to. Then apply the same thought experiment to all the other elements in the list. Scary, right?
As I said, this is not an easy read, but it might be worth the effort: you might be skeptical, but what if this is accurate? Change happens quickly. Time is crucial.

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