This story was originally published by Undark and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
David Wallace-Wells’ recent climate change essay in the New York Times, published as part of the publicity for his new book “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,” is, sadly, like a lot of writing on climate change these days: It’s right about the risk, but wrong about how it tries to accomplish the critical goal of raising public concern. Like other essays that have sounded the alarms on global warming — pieces by Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and George Monbiot come to mind — Wallace-Wells’ offers a simple message: I’m scared. People should be scared. Here are the facts. You should be scared too.
To be sure, Wallace-Wells and these other writers are thoughtful, intelligent, and well-informed people. And that is precisely how they try to raise concern: with thought, intelligence, and information, couched in the most dramatic terms at the grandest possible scale. Wallace-Wells invokes sweeping concepts like “planet-warming,” “human history,” and global emissions; remote places like the Arctic; broad geographical and geopolitical terms like “coral re... Read more