Hindsight is 20/20

The Collapse of Western Civilization by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway lets us peek into the future of our world after it has been ravaged by climate change. Written as if it is a historical report written in the 22nd century, it details the science of the destruction of the Earth as well as the human hubris that allowed it to happen. First, it describes the rising temperatures and their effects on the world. It describes rising sea levels, mass deaths, failing attempts to counteract the changes, and eventually even a second plague. It also describes the denial and economic policies that caused the problem to escalate. Governments are controlled by the upper classes, specifically people who benefit from the use of the fossil fuels that cause CO2 emissions. In the end, a Japanese scientist working on her own releases a CO2-eating fungus into the air that finally helps. However, the populations of Australia and Africa have been wiped out, and the populations of the rest of the world have been greatly reduced.

The format of the book is particularly fascinating. Its way of describing future events as a historical novel highlights what needs to be done now to prevent climate change and the destruction of our Earth. Through this future historical account, we are able to see what will likely happen due to climate change, as the book is based on scientific projections and facts that have been well researched by the authors. The book also points out the governmental and economic constructions that need to change in order to make a real difference in climate change. The book is aimed not at the layperson, but at the climate change fiction enthusiast and the scholar, but it has an important message about the way we deny climate change as a society. It is a real wake up call, especially in response to the current feeling of our politicians towards climate change. The science behind the projections denoted in the book, as well as the format of the novel, may help open people’s eyes to the very real changes that are happening to our Earth. It is a brilliant way of getting across information about where we are headed in an interesting and easily digestible way.

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