by David Wallace- Wells
I will be honest and state it here that i read 2/3 of the book and quit. I should have done so much earlier but you all know what sunk costs mean.
You might ask why I didn’t finish? Well, first I think the book has the wrong title. It should be the Uninhabitable California. In the first section of the book California gets more treatment than the whole continent of Africa. You might call me petty, but I have come to find books that pretend to deal with global issues while treating Africa as a footnote impossible to read. I can’t. I am African and Africa is in me. When David mentions the coastal cities that are threatened with ocean flooding, he can’t find any such coast in Africa. Well, he mentions Asia a bit, maybe because they are so many there but that’s just it.
I found the book too alarmist. I don’t deny the reality of climate change. But the picture Wallace paints is one such that one would be tempted to say why do anything when 2100 looks like the final chapter to the earth as we know. We can wait for 2100 and act from there, that is if those who will survive flooding and heat will act together to avoid human extinction.
His long sentences almost killed me. Sometimes you even get lost in a sentence.
The point he makes that I agree with is that the countries that have not polluted as much will unfortunately bear the greatest burden of climate change while at the same time being unable or unprepared to cope with the challenges. If the earth heats up by say 1 or 2 degrees, places that are already hot are likely to get hotter, heat waves in summers may increase and such which are matters of real concern.
He also makes the point, which i think is reasonable that individual action is insufficient in the challenge we face. To address any human caused climate calamities, we have to do it collectively- politically. And banning single use plastics-straws and all- is a commendable effort, it does little to nothing in ameliorating global warming- human caused or otherwise.
Does the book advance scholarship on climate science? I think not. In fact, I don’t think it helps much in moving the discussion about climate change by being too alarmist. It’s almost a put off.
He is right on some other thing. Our forefathers left almost no mark on the earth. The period we call pre-history is much longer than the duration we have been around. Let’s all hope that this is not the end of history as Fukuyama claimed. I don’t want this to be the end of history. You see, Hegel, that renowned thinker said Africa had no history or something to that effect and I don’t think Fukuyama’s end of history has Africa as a chapter- maybe as a footnote. SO you see, this is personal. I want time, long enough time, for Africa to have history.
Maybe some of you who have read the book have a different feeling and I would love to hear your thoughts on the book.
Happy weekend friends. Enemies also.