I just finished reading “The Uninhabitable Earth,” and here’s what author David Wallace-Wells says about global warming.
“It’s worse than you think.”
That’s the first line of the book.
Like global temperatures, my unease rose as I read through the first 12 chapters describing as many effects.
Some I’d been aware of for years.
Melting ice caps, rising seas, stronger storms, forest fires.
Dying coral, thawing permafrost, and desertification of forests and farms.
Others I hadn’t thought of.
Productivity. Think of working all day in an office or a factory when the air conditioning breaks.
Research suggests a 51 percent chance that global output could fall 20 percent by 2100. It fell 15 percent during the Great Depression, but with climate change there may never be a bounce back as there was after the Depression.
Disease. We never heard of Zika virus until two years ago. What happens when malaria and dengue plague America as they do Africa?
War and migration both rise with temperature. By 2030, projected temperatures are expected to cause 393,000 more battle deaths.
Hurricane Harvey created 60,000 migrants in Texas.
By 2050 a World Bank Study said 140 million might leave homes due to climate. We might have to feed and shelter with about half the land available currently.
E.O. Wilson, a Harvard expert in the demise of species whom Wallace-Wells quotes, depicts our future as trying to shelter the growing population of the world with about half the land available currently.
Heat death – where air temperature and humidity reach a point where our bodies can’t cool themselves.
At 6 degrees of warming “summer labor would become in the lower Mississippi Valley and everyone in United States east of the Rockies would suffer more from heat than anyone, anywhere in the world today,” Wallace-Wells writes.
The International Panel on Climate Change doesn’t think temperatures will rise 6 degrees by they end of the century; 4 degrees is its median estimate.
But the author points out warming won’t stop in the year 2100, even though most scientific projections haven’t been carried beyond then into what Wallace-Wells said could be the century from hell.
The only variable is how quickly, if ever, we stop releasing more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Our task is larger than anything ever undertaken in world history. It requires reducing energy use, switching from dirty to clean energy, electrifying everything that uses power.
“It means nothing short,” he writes, “than a complete overhaul fo the world’s energy systems, transportation, infrastructure and industry and agriculture.”
Our task is enormous, but our time is short, Wallace-Wells writes.
We might consider his book alarmist.
Fair enough, Wallace-Wells writes, because he is alarmed.
After reading his book, so am I.