“The threat from climate change is more total than from the bomb. It is also more pervasive.” A closely argued look at what may be a turning point in human existence.
As New York magazine deputy editor Wallace-Wells observes, almost every major moment of “evolutionary reset” in Earth’s history has been precipitated by climate change produced by an overproduction of greenhouse gases—and there is now more carbon in the air than at any point in the last 15 million years, leading him to open, grimly, with the warning, “It is worse, much worse, than you think.” So it is, and even if the author allows that we have the tools we need to stop transformative climate change, from carbon taxes to carbon capture and a conversion to renewable energy, we lack anything like the political or economic will to alter our course. The results will be catastrophic, from untold millions of environmental refugees to summers that, even in Scandinavia, will be accompanied by killer heat waves. Wallace-Wells rightly muses over the fact that, for all our devotion to end-of-the-world scenarios in science-fiction books and films, too many of us continue to believe that the scientists warning of these dire matters are “simply crying wolf.” Witness the sitting president, who considers himself too smart to believe that the climate is changing and that there’s still plenty of time to do something about it. There’s not, Wallace-Wells writes, leaving us with only a few alternatives, ranging from the hope that some technological miracle can be ginned up to the darker impulse to "normalize climate suffering at the same pace we accelerate it…forgetting all that we had ever said about the absolute moral unacceptability of the conditions of the world we are passing through in the present tense, and blithely.”
If you weren’t alarmed already, Wallace-Wells sounds the tocsin of toxicity. An urgent, necessary book.