Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World
I have never been interested in reading about things that currently are a realistic threat to me (i.e. pandemics, cancer and global warming). However, as I do not have sole determination of the books we read for book club and pretty much everyone else wanted a global warming book, I searched long and hard for the one that would probably terrify me the least, and here we are.
From the back cover:
Across the globe, scientists and civilians alike are noticing rapidly rising sea levels and increasingly higher tides that push more water directly into the places we live – from our most vibrant, historic cities to our last remaining traditional coastal villages. By this century’s end, hundreds of millions of people will be retreating from the world’s shores, a harrowing crisis of social, environmental, and fiscal measures. Yet despite international efforts and tireless research, there is no permanent solution – no barriers to erect or walls to build – that will protect us in the end from the drowning of the world as we know it.
The Water Will Come is the definitive examination of this coming catastrophe, why and how it will happen, and what the endgame will mean for the way we live. Traveling across twelve countries, Jeff Goodell reports from the front lines of the climate change epidemic, revealing to us the water world into which our planet is quickly transforming.
I was in such a challenging place before we had this book club meeting the day before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, despite all it’s problems, is my favorite holiday. It was always my Moppy‘s holiday and her background as a chef made for a fabulous day of food. I’d spent the few hours between work and book club making her gingerbread cookie recipe and so my head wasn’t really in the right place for a book club.
But. Since we closed the store in March and stopped meeting in person, all seven regular book club members have consistently made a point to be able to participate in each and every book club meeting and so getting to sit down with them, my book club family, at a time when I couldn’t be with my own family, meant so much to me. Where am I going with this… Oh yes! So for a book that I wasn’t typically inclined to read, it was nice to have a great book club meeting full of warmth and friendship.
Surprisingly though, I didn’t hate this book and it didn’t give me panic attacks! To say I was shocked is an understatement. When everyone asked to read either a pandemic or global warming book, I looked long and hard for one that I thought I would be able to stomach reading, but didn’t really think I’d enjoy the experience of reading (well, listening) to such a book.
I put The Water Will Come forth for voting because the focus is more on infrastructure rather than the polar bears. It focuses on how Miami will be underwater in 30 years, rather than how many animals will be extinct which helped me detach a bit more which I needed. Jeff takes us on a tour around the world (but spends a lot of it in Miami) talking about how our cities and communities will need to change in order for them to survive the rising sea levels. While I’ve been terrified of climate change and have done everything I personally can to offset my own carbon footprint, I knew that where I live in Pennsylvania, on the western side of Philadelphia, would not be in danger of rising waters, though would be much closer to the beach once New Jersey is underwater.
But what I never thought about, were climate refugees. Where do all the people who live in the places that are going to be underwater go? How do we structure our infrastructure to support them? And even more shocking, the number of refugees coming into Europe from the Middle East, are also, in a sense, climate change refugees because of the drought and lack of food that helped trigger the civil wars that have been ravaging the area.
What was least surprising, was how little people living in future flood zones don’t seem to be concerned with the future of their properties. We are such a reactionary culture and have a great deal of difficulty doing things proactively (there is a very prescient line from Obama about pandemic preparedness…) so people think, if I can have my beachfront property now, what do I care about 50 years from now?
This was by far the most frustrating part of the whole book. I wanted to channel my inner Greta and just yell at them all for being so completely shortsighted. Overall, though, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I got into this book.
Rating: 8 out of 10