The journalist and author on the climate crisis and how the US and China will be key to averting disaster
David Wallace-Wells is the deputy editor of New York magazine. In July 2017, he wrote a long-form essay about the dire prospects for human civilisation caused by the climate crisis. It became the most read article in the history of the magazine and led to a book, The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future, which is being published in paperback in September.
The first line of your book states: “It is worse, much worse, than you think.” If you were sitting down to write the book again, would you be inserting another “much” into that sentence?
I still think the public aren’t as concerned as they should be about some of the scary stuff that’s possible this century. But I do think things have changed quite a bit. And I also think the politics have changed quite a lot. When I turned in the book in September, nobody had heard of Greta Thunberg. Nobody had heard of Extinction Rebellion. In the US, very few people had heard of Sunrise. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had not even been elected.
There is a pervasive techno-optimistic view that we can just invent something and it will solve the problem
We need to fight to make the world one we want to live in, rather than giving up hope before the fight is really over