There’s nothing like pushing through reading a book that is written with an alarmist perspective. I wasn’t expecting the pessimistic reality or cold-hard truth splash in the face pages of information this book held. The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells is a gut-punch, reality check on the future, near-future, of the planet.
I read this book as a chosen book for my teacher book club. My colleagues were certainly depressed and found reading the pages difficult. Unsure who the pages were written for we struggled to discuss the content. The reason perhaps we are unsure of the audience is if teachers who understand, study, teach climate change (and know the realities of possibility) find the words/pages/chapters difficult, will many others read through the book and learn some things along the way?
This is not to say the book isn’t valuable and the perspective of the author isn’t valid. The information is deep with scientific research and there are many strands of important stories. The author weaves a story using articles, quotes, and theorectical proposals to express the future we will soon experience here on earth. Particularly, important to the story of climate change is the amount of carbon in our atmosphere.
Although the first chapter is a beast of pages and information, if taken over a period of days one can get through it. And if read with the perspective that this will be a book without a happy joking tone (and in many ways we have to remember the issues of climate change should not be a joking matter) one can read through the chapter and the book. The subsequent chapters are shorter and if the book isn’t read as a one-day read it can be slightly less depressing.
As teachers, we changed our conversation for the second half of the book. We began to use the text as a jumping point to initiate conversation for lesson planning and developing interest in our students (the inheritants of the Earth). There are no easy solutions, there is no happy end or rainbow around the corner. But perhaps we all need to think about how to change our present to accommodate a future (not necessarily a better one, but just one where humans still survive). And perhaps we need to discuss ways to fix the problems while also considering ways to live within the world we are destined for because of the years we have wasted without change.
The book is clear on the one story – we must act as a global community to change. How that is done is also every person’s responibility.