Travel Documents 84: The Future Earth

The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What’s Possible in the Age of Warming

Eric Holthaus

 Link To Buy

Genre: Near Future, Social Justice, Environmental Activism, futurism

The Dust Cover Copy


The first hopeful book about climate change, The Future Earth shows readers how to reverse the short- and long-term effects of climate change over the next three decades.

The basics of climate science are easy. We know it is entirely human-caused. Which means its solutions will be similarly human-led. In The Future Earth, leading climate change advocate and weather-related journalist Eric Holthaus (“the Rebel Nerd of Meteorology”—Rolling Stone) offers a radical vision of our future, specifically how to reverse the short- and long-term effects of climate change over the next three decades. Anchored by world-class reporting, interviews with futurists, climatologists, biologists, economists, and climate change activists, it shows what the world could look like if we implemented radical solutions on the scale of the crises we face.

  • What could happen if we reduced carbon emissions by 50 percent in the next decade?
  • What could living in a city look like in 2030?
  • How could the world operate in 2040, if the proposed Green New Deal created a 100 percent net carbon-free economy in the United States?

This is the book for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the current state of our environment. Hopeful and prophetic, The Future Earth invites us to imagine how we can reverse the effects of climate change in our own lifetime and encourages us to enter a deeper relationship with the earth as conscientious stewards and to re-affirm our commitment to one another in our shared humanity.

The Scene

World building

This is an interesting book that walks a fine line between fiction and non-fiction, journalism and storytelling. It’s an effective mix, showing us what a way forward actually could look like. This book pulls no punches about how hard the work is going to be. But it does tell us a story we need to hear. We have been hearing the Things Are Bad narrative often. Too often. And it’s a true story.
But this book tells us a corollary tale: Things Are Bad, We Can Make Them Better. This is what we need to hear.

The Lingo

Writing Style

Steady, calm, and wandering between subtly snarky and gently supportive, it’s a solid style that keeps you moving through the work. Once in a while it gets just a little overheated, but hey, this is a talk about hot topics…pardon the pun.

The Moves


Part 1 of this book is a classic ecological disaster list: Look At All These Bad Things Happening. It’s going to upset you. It’s meant to. It provides a summary of the undeniable consequences of global warming that we’re experiencing right now. This summary is well researched and explained in perfect, heart-wrenching detail. But don’t shut it out. Don’t close down. After this, the book starts to get really useful.

Part 2 is a set of decade-by-decade vignettes that draw an arc of pragmatic hope into the future. Reading it is a bit like watching a really gorgeous bridge being built. Based in meticulous research, each section is absolutely possible, completely workable, and can be done if we put our minds to it. The sections are: 2020-2030: Catastrophic Success, 2030-2040: Radical Stewardship, and 2040-2050: New Technologies and New Spiritualities. In these sections, Holthaus uses a technique common among futurists and strategic planners, starting with a desirable future in mind–you know, the one where we humans actually fix our mess and thrive?–and reverse-engineering what needs to happen now in order to get there.

The final section of the book is a really solid way to ground ourselves back in the present, showing us both how we can take care of our own mental health and showing us that we can do good today. It’s the perfect coda: the author tells you how to get through today, so we can get to tomorrow.

Overall Rating

By using solid and science-based documentation blended with powerful storytelling, the author shows us how our present could be the past that a worthwhile future looks back on. If we do these things, we could be the future’s Greatest Generation. I’m here for that.