The future Earth A radical vision for what's possible in the age of warming

Eric Holthaus, 1981-

Book - 2020

Eric Holthaus offers a radical vision of our future, specifically how to reverse the short- and long-term effects of climate change over the next three decades. Anchored by world-class reporting, interviews with futurists, climatologists, biologists, economists, and climate change activists, it shows what the world could look like if we implemented radical solutions on the scale of the crises we face.

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New York, NY : HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2020]
Main Author
Eric Holthaus, 1981- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
247 pages ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 231-247).
  • Part I. A Living Emergency
  • Part II. 2020-2030: Catastrophic Success
  • 2030-2040: Radical Stewardship
  • 2040-2050: New Technologies and New Spiritualities
  • Epilogue
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Climate journalist Holthaus imagines a different world in his cautionary but guardedly optimistic debut about how humanity might meet the climate change challenge. As a worst-case scenario, Holthaus cites the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, "the worst humanitarian crisis in modern American history." He does not mince words, describing how the storm caused countless deaths, a monthslong power outage, and "damaged or destroyed about 30 million trees, inflicting profound and unprecedented changes on the landscape." It exacted an extraordinary mental toll as well, Holthaus observes. Having himself gone into therapy in 2017 for climate-related anxiety, he discusses the threat posed by feelings of existential despair while going through the "living emergency" of global climate change, a situation in which a state of crisis is normalized. In the book's second half, he balances the doom-and-gloom by envisioning how, in the coming decades, humanity might remake food systems to be locally controlled, phase out fossil fuel use in transportation, and reform democracies to be more responsive to voters. These are not impossibilities, he suggests, if the world acts now. He wraps up with suggestions for coping mechanisms and exercises on handling grief and stress. Serious and substantial, this will give readers plenty to consider. (July)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A weather and climate change journalist envisions a 30-year plan for reversing the effects of climate change. "A new era of urgently paying attention to nature has arrived," writes Holthaus; in the introductory chapter, "A Living Emergency," he delivers an alarming global overview of our current climate conditions. Vividly detailing the severity of recent hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, floods, and other natural disasters that have devastated large sections of our planet, he relates how each can be directly attributed to increased carbon emissions and how the levels in 2019 "were the highest in human history." "We can no longer deny that weather in every corner of the Earth is different now," writes the author. "That change is because of us. And we have the power to choose a different path." Despite the substantial obstacles created by our current political landscape, which is driven by the financial interests of major corporations, Holthaus finds hope in the diligent efforts of leading scientists and environmentalists, the new wave of progressively charged politicians and the concept of the Green New Deal, and youth organizations such as the Sunrise Movement. All emphasize the urgency of finding ways to go beyond simply transitioning to electronic cars; we must radically shift from an aggressive, profit-centric growth economy to a "regenerative economy" focused on sustainability. In the second half of the book, Holthaus outlines a detailed plan by decade, leading up through 2050. Writing in the past tense, he somewhat optimistically lays out the results of these measures as having already taken place--e.g., "2020-2030: Catastrophic Success" or "2030-2040: Radical Stewardship." In the chapter titled "2040-2050: New Technologies and New Spiritualities," the author concedes that even with emissions possibly reduced to "two-thirds of current levels," temperatures "will likely continue to rise" and may require the use of controversial methods of geoengineering, which include the concept of "planet-cooling aerosol technology." An encouraging and diligently researched call to action regarding the most pressing issue of our time. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.