Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years On Earth

Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years On Earth

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I will tell you upfront that in Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years On Earth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), author and veteran journalist Mark Hertsgaard does offer hope and solutions as well as pictures of how cities, regions, and countries will (and will not) fare even ten years down the road in the face of climate change. Without the solutions, frankly the book might be too depressing to some. I think the universal question it will initially provoke is: But where will I live?

Take my hometown, New York City. Basically where I’m living should be underwater and also hit by a devastating hurricane or three as well. What’s really interesting is that the reverberations of climate change may be hurtling towards us even faster than Hertsgaard’s estimates – I say this because the author tells us how in the 2020’s, New York City’s temperature will exceed 90ºF 23 to 29 days a year. Yikes, this already happened in the summer of 2010.

Global warming, it is explained here, is the disease and climate change is the constellation of symptoms. And global warming is here. However, it seems that our global priorities are not straight. This is beyond just worrying about where one will live in the future. “Climate change is the number-one threat to global public health in the twenty-first century, according to the Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal,” Hertsgaard writes. The author also quotes Saleemul Huq: “Climate change is the greatest weapon of mass destruction of our lives. Unless we in the rich countries recognize this fact and do something about it, we are guilty of crimes against humanity.”

While unfortunately it may be too late for coral reefs and the polar bears, some countries lead the way in preparedness and adaptability for climate change; namely, Britain and the Netherlands. The Netherlands actually has a 200-year plan in place. In fact, the book explains in detail what is about the Netherlands’ plan that had the author apply for dual citizenship for his 5-year-old daughter Chiara with the sole idea in mind that perhaps she as an adult may be able to live in the Netherlands, which I found impressive.

Droughts, floods, heat waves, famines, GMOs, governments who turned a blind eye while all the while contributing to a catastrophic carbon footprint are all included here. An eye-opening read.

Review by Diane Saarinen

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