Is climate change just about the bees? Let David Wallace-Wells convince you otherwise, says Hazel Walker
If the opening line “it is worse, much worse, than you think” of David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth is not enough to get you thinking about the threat of climate change, the rest of his powerfully blunt and often terrifying writing will. Wallace-Wells walks us through the twelve “Elements of Chaos” we will encounter as a species if current carbon emissions are not brought under control. Whilst his relentless delivery of facts meticulously collated from scientific studies is at times distressing to read, it feels necessary in sight of the current climate emergency. Covering a range of subjects from drought, increased disease burden and economic collapse, the first section of the book outlines the fragility of the systems upon which we so heavily rely. In the latter part of the book, Wallace-Wells takes a slightly more political stance, detailing his opinions on capitalism and ethics. This political turn may not be of interest to everyone but the unflinching descriptions in the first section more than make up for it. Although the book does not offer us detailed solutions to the crisis, the bleak picture Wallace-Wells paints of a world forever changed by our actions is almost definitely a wake-up call for all of its readers.