This is the way World Ends : How Droughts and Die-offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America by Jeff Nesbit, Thomas Dunne Books, St Martin’s Publishing Group, 2018, United States, 336 pp, ISBN: 9781250160461, price-$29.99 (2,257.17 Rs)
Heena Samant, Research Associate, VIF

We all have heard of climate change and its impact now and of future time and again. So much so, that it has now become the new normal. But it doesn’t really get the mind space that it needs, for various reasons. Then comes a book like Jeff Nesbit's This Is the Way World Ends, which places you to face the reality of this phenomenon, and hits you in the face.

Jeff Nesbit through his book, This Is the Way World Ends: How Droughts and Die-Offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America, has tried to change the contemporary, unessential climate change arguments into a united climate conversation that is relevant to every human being. There are plenty of questions on the impact of climate change and how the future would shape up as a result.

The book explores the small changes that are taking place in the United States, bigger changes that are happening across the globe, and what the consequences of climate change will be for the entire world.

The epicenter of the book lies in understanding the problem and the possible solution. And both are interestingly of the people, by the people and for the people. The solution lies in acting now.

It has been emphasized by the author that the first stage to find solutions for tackling challenges from climate change is to have a better understanding of real-life stories and scientific facts of what is happening right now in the world.

The stories shared by Nesbit show the world that there is a need for change against a misguided notion that has been dominating since eternity – which is human beings are supposed to save the planet. This myth needs to be broken. It is not the planet that needs to be saved, as it will survive, but the existence of the human species which is in danger. In the end, people around the world need to save themselves from the problems and crisis that is coming as a result of their ignorance and that ignorance is the most problematic of all.

The author believes that the gravity of the situation lies in the fact that people need to understand that the world is in trouble right now, at the moment, and not in distant future, due to a black sky created by human beings. The author has described what is happening in different parts of the world as a result of climate change in the form of stories.

What is happening around the world as a result of climate change has been explored by Nesbit in six stages: The Truth, The Ecosystems, The Impacts, The Geopolitics, The Blueprint, and The Future.

‘The Truth’ delves into the changes that are taking place to the earth’s ecosystem as a result of global warming and the impact of rising temperatures on to the daily lives of people. For example, global warming leads to frequent heat waves, rapid glacial melting, rise in sea levels, precipitation changes that further leads to frequent floods and droughts, the growing extinction and migration of local species, and ocean acidification. These impacts of climate change threaten the livelihoods of millions of people. One such region that is explored in this section is the Third Pole where the rapid melting of the glaciers will have significant impact on hundreds and millions of people who depend on the rivers and its resources that originate from the Third Pole.

‘The Ecosystems’ is the stage in the book which expounds that global warming has led to large regime shifts, thus changing the landscapes across the globe which is irrevocable. The regions that have been explored in this section are the Arctic, the Sahel, and the Great Barrier Reef.

‘The Impacts’ is the stage which explores how climate change is threatening the existence of multiple species including human beings and iconic animal species. It has been explained how and why frequent heat waves currently threaten the lives of people across the planet, including the Midwest United States, Western Europe, Australia and Russia. It is also explained that as the planet is warming, civil unrest and violence are spreading, especially in the Middle East. One such example the author gives is that of Iraq. During the Middle Eastern heat wave in the summer of 2015, in the southern Iraqi city of Basrah, protesters clashed with police as they demonstrated for better power services, leaving one person dead. He then goes on to Yemen and Syria sharing consequences of crippling drought and extreme rainfall patterns.

Apart from heat waves, rise in ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, and changes in precipitation are causing frequent storms also known as “Category 6” storms that have the capability of wiping out the coastal cities including Dubai and Tampa and other coastal cities of the United States. Extreme events like storms, floods, or water scarcity are leading to the rise of a new yet unrecognized category of refugees. Iconic species such as Saiga antelope in Central Kazakhstan, the African elephant, and giant Panda in China are facing extinction because of change in environmental landscape.

‘The Geopolitics’ stage in this book explores the issue of water scarcity in countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Somalia, Pakistan, India, and China. This stage further explains that climate change has the capacity to affect international security.

‘The Blueprint’ offers a path forward that prevents the worst impacts of climate change, provides sustainable energy which is enough for world’s energy requirements and could simultaneously lead to the greatest economic resurgence in history.

‘The future’ talks about the challenge of climate change in front of us. It explains as to why climate change is the most important test that the world needs to pass to keep moving forward. According to the author, the important steps that are taken are manageable if the world comes together.

“If we prepare now locally, nationally, and globally with sustainable strategies, we can minimize the damage of heat, storms, and flooding and preserve the remnants of iconic species,” he says.

He recommends actions, which if taken now can, help in adaptation to changes that are happening and will help in mitigation of damage and suffering for both human beings and other species that inhabit the planet. According to him, the CIA and NSA have the capability to solve glacier knowledge gap at the Third Pole. Environmental refugees that are emerging as a result of resource scarcity like water and food in different parts of the world like Yemen and Sahel have not been recognized by the UN. However, at this point, it is imperative for the United Nations to give these refugees a legitimate status.

The author has also encouraged for different organizations like the UN, the World Bank, and the African Union to change their course towards local solutions like indigenous land management, indigenous of water harvesting, indigenous farming techniques. No matter what changes are going on across the planet as a result of global warming, there is a solution to everything.

The book aims to educate people across the globe about not to ignore the harbingers and start planning for the bigger changes before the devastation knocks the doorstep. For those who are entering into the world of climate change, this book is a must read.

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