Raising the Alarm: Rhetoric on Climate Change

Shock! We realize the severe to protect the rights of individuals displaced by rising sea levels, storms, wildfires, floods and everything else brought upon by the nature of climate change.

Journalist David Wallace-Wells elucidates the assumptions, contexts, themes and other underlying features behind arguments on the future of Earth in his book “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.” As though we were on a highway to Hell, the American journalist’s says, to avoid the doomsday scenarios of climate change spanning economic and political crises, we need a carbon tax, a method to fight against dirty energy, innovative agricultural techniques and overall funding for promoting green energy capturing waste carbon dioxide.

A Friendly Warning

As though you were meeting with him for coffee, Wallace-Wells’ writing is accessible and understandable. It lets the leader let feel at ease and understood despite the near-alarmist content of the book. Even though much of this book is content that has already been written, this book sets itself apart from others by being so frank, direct, and almost a detached objective look that Wallace-Wells takes as a journalist. As Aristotle wrote in Rhetoric, Book III, “For it is not enough to know what we ought to say; we must also say it as we ought.” Wallace-Wells provides a stunning re-contextualizing of future research, conversations and other features of existence due to climate change. The reader will feel empowered in her future ways of analyzing climate change rhetoric. It leaves the reader armed with the ability to formulate and analyze arguments on the nature of moral responsibility and power to make a difference in the world. 

The book also serves as an equalizer between contrary points of view on the issues of climate change. Wallace-wells’ writing encompasses so many perspectives to provide an accurate, multidimensional moral landscape of the issues of climate change. This makes the political message more powerful and persuasive in turning heads and changing minds. As Wallace-Wells says we have a tendency to be complacent even though we’re scared about the future of the Earth. Through comparisons and analogies, he forms predictions of how our actions affect the planet. By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. Even the everyday examples of our actions, such as a flight from London to New York destroying three square meters of Arctic ice, will leave you thinking twice about your role and responsibility in these global issues.

“Oh, the Humanities!”

Wallace-Wells explores many possibilities and options as he formulates his arguments. He draws comparisons from literature, history, philosophy and other disciplines in addition to science-backed conclusions. Through this, Wallace-Wells avoids pitfalls of reductionism that would come with relying on science alone. Instead of treating the issue of climate change as simply a mathematics problem with an optimal solution that we must use, it’s much more speculative. To address the crime, poverty, disease and economic collapse, he humanizes climate refugees and everyone else that shares our planet. He writes in a way we remember the fundamental ideals, values and principles we must protect. The reader may find herself in awe at how the dystopian futures found in works of “climate fiction” (or “cli-fi”) make the truth appear stranger than fiction. 

Digging deeper into the language of climate change, Wallace-Wells identifies terminology like “climactic regime,” for alleviating the effects of climate change. He uses these terms including “climate fatalism” and “ecocide” in characterizing the debates surrounding these issues. “Human futilitarianism” describes the psychoanalytic nature of climate despair, as writers Sam Kriss and Ellie Mae O’Hagan have said: 

The problem, it turns out, is not an overabundance of humans but a death of humanity. Climate change and the Anthropocene are a triumph of an undead species, a mindless shuffle towards extinction, but this is only a lopsided imitation of what we really are. This is why politics depression is important: zombies don’t feel sad, and they certainly don’t feel helpless; they just are. Political depression is, at root, the experience of a  creature that is being prevented from being itself; for all its crushing ness, for all its feebleness, it’s a cry of protest. Yes, political depressives feel as if they don’t know how to be humans buried in the despair and self-doubt is an important realization. If humanity is the capacity to act meaningfully within our surroundings, then we are really, or not yet, human.

Either way, the planet won’t grow colder or the planet won’t grow older.

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