David Wallace-Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth

At what point does Planet Earth become inhospitable to life – let alone a flourishing human civilization? In his new book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, David Wallace-Wells explores how climate change will impact not just the planet, but human lives – including how a five degree increase in temperatures would make parts of the planet unsurvivable. “The more I learned about the science the deeper I got into it… the more scared I was,” he admits, “and from where I sat as a journalist the importance of telling that story so that other people have the same reaction have the same response. Paradoxically, though he has only been writing about it for a few years, Wallace-Wells has found climate change to invigorate him as a storyteller. “It's an epic saga,” he says. “It's the kind of thing that we only used to see in mythology and theology. We really do have the fate of the world and the species in our hands.” Another climate communicator, Katherine Hayhow from Texas Tech University, recognizes the need for storytellers like Wallace-Wells to translate the work of scientists like her. “We’re not missing the apocalyptic vision of the future, I think we've got that in spades,” she says. “What David’s book does is it takes what we've been saying in scientific assessments for years and even decades, and it rephrases in a way that’s hopefully more accessible for people to understand how bad this could be.” That said, Hayhoe also recognizes a need for other writers and creative artists to tell climate stories that move us beyond doom-and-gloom. “We scientists are terrible at positive visions of the future, all we’re good at is diagnosing the problem in greater and greater detail,” she laments. “We need others to help us see what that future looks like. Because when you look at something that’s better than what we have today, you can’t hold people back from moving in that direction.” Guests: David Wallace-Wells, Deputy Editor, New York Magazine; Author, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming Katharine Hayhoe, Professor and Director, Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on May 6, 2019 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

by Climate One