Can we survive the incalculable damage of climate change?

David Wallace-Wells charts a path for life in the wake of global warming.

The Amazon forests, which scrub one-fourth of the carbon from the earth’s atmosphere, are burning. Nearly 90,000 fires consume 2,200 square kilometers each month. The most powerful North Atlantic hurricane yet, Dorian, recently drowned island airports in six feet of water before veering toward the Atlantic coast of the United States. Global air and ocean temperatures in July 2019 exceeded 20th-century averages by 1.77 degrees Fahrenheit—the hottest July since records began in 1880 and the 415th consecutive above-average month.

Is it still possible to assess climate threats and risks in a thoughtful and comprehensive way, without polemics or panic? A month ago my answer was no. But then I read this book.

Don’t be misled by its apocalyptic title. The Uninhabitable Earth, an exceptionally clear and concise account of how humanity has changed the living and the nonliving world, looks toward what lies ahead. David Wallace-Wells draws on an enormous range of sources—discursive endnotes take up nearly a quarter of the book’s pages—in describing the complex causes, the uncertainties of prediction, and the possibility that, if we overcome denial and complacency, we may still be able to slow the devastation we have set in motion.