Doomsday stories about the climate

The Uninhabitable Earth – Life after Warming
Forfatter: David Wallace-Wells
Forlag: Tim Duggan Books (USA)
CLIMATE CRISIS / Keeping your head cold in an ever-warmer world is difficult. The book's author is on the road to heat.


"We have nothing to learn from global warming," writes David Wallace-Wells obliquely in this book. The author is a journalist in New York Magazine and also writes for The Guardian, and he is self-taught in the field of global warming. The reason for the claim is that time is too short and the problem too close to ourselves that we have time to learn something or have the opportunity to think about the problem.

We cannot, therefore, teach humility, respect for nature, that it is important to work together against the greatest threat to human existence in modern times? So we can't learn while we shop? I mean we can. According to the author, we live in a post-ecological state, hence the title Life after Warming. We are being cooked alive, an unpleasant state we try to deny the reality of.

The author takes the future in advance and obviously thinks that it is already too late, now it is only to face the downfall. He reflects little on how to do this, and he forgets that a house usually has multiple doors – he only sees the door that leads straight out into the darkness. As long as the author is unwilling to discuss the possibility that the future may offer other solutions, this book remains like a slightly closed world, despite many of his claims probably agreeing with reality.

Wallace-Wells says that we have been given terms such as "climate anihilism", "econihilism", "climate fatalism", "climate apathy" and "ecordord". We have received extremely pessimistic books in the wake of the climate crisis, such as Roy Scranton's "Learning to Die in the Anthropocene" and: "We are lost. What now?". So Wallace-Wells has had opportunities to reflect on the problem.

Which medicine does Wallace-Wells recommend against the climate disaster? Yes, acclimatization: the quickest possible adaptation to the new conditions.


A book like this, which is by no means original in contemporary culture, I consider to be deeply problematic. "It's worse, much worse than you think," writes the author. But what does this author really know about what I believe? The author reveals that he has never been a natural person. The book also seems to have been written by an intellectual desk pessimist who has never experienced what wonderful things nature can do to a human being. I have had many nice nature experiences myself.


Wallace-Wells draws on an extremely bleak scenario, saying that there are no, or very few, opportunities to avoid the downfall. He wonders how the realities will affect our ethical responsibility for each other as panic and fear grow. A good question.

The water in the tap will sooner or later stop flowing, the seas will rise, the planet will warm five and eventually six degrees, and civilization will die out by the end of two to three hundred years, the author writes. He will wake us up by scaring us.

The book would have been much better if the author had taken the time to outline several future scenarios, and thus perhaps strengthened our willingness to act, rather than kill the little will that might be left?

I think all writers who write about the climate crisis, sooner or later, are affected by the Kassandra complex: They see the downfall, but are not believed.

The positive thing about this book is that it is at times enlightening. The negative is that it darkens my consciousness. When the writer frames up many things we have to do to avoid a disaster that yet is not to be avoided, he ends up in a cul-de-sac.


When a climate pessimist with a little too much writing pleasure and who is a little too fond of end-time stories, finally makes me give up, simply because I can't take in more, he probably hasn't achieved what he was looking for? A book that serves assertions that are never properly justified, other than by the boundless accumulation of hypotheses that then suddenly, through a kind of literary abracadabra, transforms into oblique claims, is not a good book.

When the author frames up many things we have to do to avoid
a catastrophe that is not to be avoided, he ends up in one

I perceive contemporary climate alarmism as becoming more and more problematic for each passing day, and I register that many also distance themselves from alarmism and become climate realists, presumably as a backlash. We have been given words like "fly shame" – yes, now the word "shame" is put as a suffix in front of almost any word.

"It can be difficult to keep more than one extinction threat in your head at the same time," the author writes. Of course, the threat of climate eradication is just one of several extinction threats. Another threat comes from artificial intelligence. Professor Nick Bostrøm at Oxford, who looks at artificial intelligence, evolution and nanotechnology among others, has figured out that we face no less than 23 different threats that threaten our existence, so we are actually so lucky that we can now choose from a very rich menu of possible annihilation methods, but unfortunately: The belief that the problems can be solved is clearly not on the David Wallace-Wells menu.

The book is published in Norwegian with the title The uninhabitable planet (JM Stenersen Forlag, translated by Lene Stokseth).

Subscription NOK 195 quarter