The Uninhabitable Earth (the book) - 12 vs 200

This follow up novel by David Wallace-Wells expands upon the concepts originally introduced in his New York Times article by the same name, but is it worth reading 200 pages rather than 12?

This article is going to be slightly different than those that came before it, and likely those that come after it. The data and predictions reviewed from the article are the basis of the book, so we will not be dissecting the credibility of the book. If you want information regarding this, I highly recommend reading the review of the original article here, as we dive into the science a bit more. This article will be focused on the book and how it compares to the original article while aiming to answer the question: which should you read?

General Thoughts

If you read the review of the article, many of those thoughts apply to the book as well. Most of the article is actually found within the book, introducing the sections just as they were presented in the article. The book is about 20 times longer than the article, giving the ideas introduced in the article room to breathe. Wells uses this extra room to expand upon those ideas, providing much more context and more detailed examples than he did in the article. If you are looking for more content with a similar tone to the article, I would highly recommend reading the book.

Speaking of tone, the original article had a very unique tone toeing the line between climate doomerism and educated warning. The book presents its information with a very similar tone while using the extra space to provide both supporting information and personal perspectives on the climate crisis. The personal touch added in the book helps relate to those less actively engaged in the climate crisis while still providing valuable information and insights. This touch was lacking in the article, and I think that the lack of personal touch is what allows climate doomerism to take the spotlight. However, even with the personal touch, the novel still has an air of doomerism hanging over it. As the subtitle Life After Warming suggests, Wells uses his platform to explore what the world could look like if we continue down the path we are currently on. If you weren't aware, this is a relatively destructive path that we are on, so the outlook isn't too positive. It's hard to explore the future on this path in a positive way, which leads to any content coming off with that air of doomerism.

So with the different lengths but similar tones, the article and book seem relatively similar, right? Yes, actually. In the next section, we'll get into what type of person would benefit from reading the article or the book, but the message is relatively similar across both - the world will look a lot different, and not in a good way, if we let warming continue at its current pace.

Climate Rating: 4.5/5 Not too different from the article, but I will give it a small bump just because it had more room to explore the ideas touched upon in the article. I think that both pieces are very valuable, but Wells used the extra 190 pages well, and I think that he deserves the credit for doing so.

So Should You Read the Book or the Article?

Well, yes!

I know that wasn't really a good answer to that question, but realistically it's the truth! I think that everyone should read either the article or the book (or both), so the answer really is yes! But realistically, what is the better option? I think that it is different for different people, so let's go over who would be better off reading one over the other!

Read the Article

I think that almost anyone would gain something reading the article, so it is very easy to recommend to most people. If you don't have a lot of free time, or you don't really understand the potential outcomes of the climate crisis, the article is a great place to start. At just 12 pages it will not take long to read, and the separations into different sections allows it to be easily digestible even if you aren't able to read the article in one sitting. By breaking it down into shorter sections, any reader could read one section per sitting and be able to retain the information while not committing to reading the entire thing. This is really nice for those on the go, who are only able to read for a minute or two here and there. I would also recommend reading the article to those that are educated on the climate crisis but are looking for a different point of view on the topic. Wells uses interviews with climate scientists as the basis for the article and the book, so it is a way to easily digest information from climate scientists without having to dig through dense research studies. However, for those relatively new to the climate crisis, this is still a great introduction to the potential future we are building towards. The only reason why I may not recommend the article to someone who is very new to the climate crisis, or to those that aren't sold on the severity of the issue is that there isn't much room for positivity in the article, and the doom and gloom could turn some people off if they feel that they're being lectured about the severity of the issue. If you feel that you fall into that category, maybe you should read one of the next two sections here!

Read the Book

Similar to my article recommendation, I would recommend this to people that are educated on the climate crisis already, but looking for a different point of view. The one caveat is that you would need the time to read 200 pages rather than 12. Wells clearly states throughout the book that he is just an ordinary guy who never really thought much about the environment, but over time he realized how much of a priority it needed to be. I think that this perspective, especially in the book, is a very powerful way to relate to most people - which leads to my next recommendation. I think any average person who has the time should read the book instead of the article. The article is a great introduction, but most of the information in the article is also in the book but with room to be explored much further than they are in the article. With this extra space, Wells is also able to lighten the tone a bit, integrating a more positive outlook throughout the book. The predictions don't change, but his outlook on what the future could be does! I think that this more positive outlook is beneficial for those that are caught in the middle on the climate crisis. These are the people that I think would benefit most from sitting down and reading the book rather than the article. I think that people in this camp don't want to be bombarded with negativity, they just want the facts so that they can form their own opinions. I think that the book does a great job of presenting legitimate information in a way that is extremely accessible to the average person. I actually think that Wells not being a climate scientist was the best thing that could have happened for this book, which is why I recommend the book to basically anyone that has the time to read it rather than the article. I don't think most people who read my reviews actually end up consuming the media I review, but I highly recommend reading this book. It would probably be the one thing I would recommend above all others as I believe that it will make you ask questions, and seek out answers on your own.

Read Both

Is there any reason to read both? Um, sort of. I think that if you read the book first, it makes absolutely no sense to go back and read the article since the entire article is in the book. As someone who listened to the audiobook and then read the article, I can tell you that I wish I had done it the opposite way. On the flip side, I think that if you read the article and have more questions or are interested by the topic, you should definitely read the book. That is really the only way I would recommend reading both. You would need to fall into the group described in the "Read the Article" section and then have a desire to explore the topic further. If you're one of those people, definitely read both! You won't get anything new from the article after reading the book, but you will definitely gain a lot from reading the book after the article.


The Uninhabitable Earth may be the easiest book to recommend on the climate crisis that I have read so far. It realistically outlines the future that we are marching towards while also showing that there is action that can be taken to avoid that future. If you have the time, please read this book. It is extremely important to realize what could happen if we continue to do nothing, and this book outlines this quite accurately. I really enjoyed this book, to the point where I actually re-read it after listening to the audiobook. Wells does a great job of presenting the information to the average person from the average person, and I think that having more books written in this style would help make this crisis more understood. The first half of the book may be one of the most depressing stretches of text you'll ever experience, but the second half is what makes this book so inspiring. It wouldn't have the impact that it does without the first half, which is what makes it such a wonderful piece of writing.