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Events | First year book 2019: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Bertin & Wolfe-Bellin Talk

Introduction to the book

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

by: David Wallace-Wells

"In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await—food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today. Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation.” —Penguin Random House Publishers

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming offers a vivid exploration of climate change, its causes, its potential consequences, and how we can respond to it. As you read the book, please consider the following questions:

  • Climate change is a controversial topic in the United States. Did this book challenge your assumptions about it? What critical questions do you have about the arguments made by Wallace-Wells?
  • The College’s mission statement asks the following question: “what is our special responsibility to the world’s poor and powerless?” Does climate change challenge us to think differently about this responsibility?
  • In the first part of the book, Wallace-Wells describes a series of catastrophic scenarios that could occur as a result of climate change. Is his strategy of offering a rather dire description of the future an effective way to motivate taking action on climate change? If not, what alternative approaches would you propose?
  • Which obstacles might prevent us from responding to the multilayered challenge that climate change poses to life on earth (from environmental degradation and global poverty to forced migration and resource conflict)? How should we respond to any such obstacles?
  • What gives you hope in the midst of this challenge? As an individual, how might you respond to it? As a college community, how should we respond to it?