Humans Have 30 Years To Stave Off Climate Catastrophe, 'Uninhabitable Earth' Author Says

"It's worse, much worse, than you think." That's how author David Wallace-Wells' new book "The Uninhabitable Earth" opens.
"The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming," by David Wallace-Wells. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

“It is worse, much worse, than you think.”

That’s how David Wallace-Wells‘ new book “The Uninhabitable Earth” opens. It’s a painstakingly researched look at the catastrophic consequences global warming is already having on the planet — and the even worse ones that are coming unless drastic action is taken over the next three decades.

“Projections estimate that if we don’t change course on global warming, we could have a global GDP that’s 30 percent smaller than it would be without climate change,” Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells) tells Here & Now‘s Robin Young. “That’s an impact that’s twice as big as the Great Depression, and it would be permanent.”

What can humans do to mitigate that kind of damage? Wallace-Wells says the short answer is “political change producing policy change.”

“We need such dramatic interventions in every sector of our world, from our energy, to our transportation, to our infrastructure, our agriculture,” he says. “Absolutely every aspect of modern life has a carbon footprint, and we need to not just reduce those carbon footprints, we need to eliminate them entirely.”

  • Scroll down to read an excerpt from “The Uninhabitable Earth”

Interview Highlights

On how he became interested in exploring the impacts of climate change

“I’m a journalist who’s interested in the near future, and I’m also a lifelong New Yorker, which meant that I spent most of my life — I was concerned about climate change. I knew it was an important issue. But I was deluded in the sense that I felt I lived in an urban fortress outside

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min read
Shannon Bond Joins NPR's Business Desk
In a note to newsroom staff, Chief Business Editor Pallavi Gogoi announced the following staffing update: I'm delighted to announce that Shannon Bond is joining NPR as Technology Correspondent, based in Silicon Valley. Shannon currently covers techno
NPR2 min readSociety
'Stand Your Ground' Trial Begins In Florida A Year After Unarmed Black Man Is Killed
Michael Drejka who is white, says he feared for his life after Markeis McGlockton, who is black, pushed him to the ground in a dispute over a handicapped-accessible parking space in 2018.
NPR3 min readPolitics
New California Law Says Police Should Kill Only When 'Necessary'
The legislation is a response to police killings of unarmed black men such as Stephon Clark. But critics say it doesn't go far enough.