In a review of The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells tells us that there’s a fire that hasn’t been put out that could do us all in. One lesson he hopes people will learn is not to throw up their hands in despair.
There simply isn’t a point of no return beyond which action on climate stops mattering, at least not within any of our lifetimes; every additional tenth of a degree of warming will mean tens of thousands of lives lost, and likely many more. “What may sound like stoic wisdom is often an alibi for indifference,” he says of the cynics who claim that nothing we can do at this point will change the course of events. “The ﬁght is, deﬁnitively, not yet lost—in fact will never be lost, so long as we avoid extinction,” Wallace-Wells writes, “because however warm the planet gets, it will always be the case that the decade that follows could contain more suffering or less.”