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End Times: A Brief Guide to the End of the World: Asteroids, Super Volcanoes, Rogue Robots, and More Audio CD – Audiobook, August 27, 2019
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From the Publisher
We are all going to die, but never before have we been so likely to all do it at the same time. Beyond the alarm and the science, the nuclear showdowns and the climate disasters, rests the bigger question of how we humans contend with the impermanence of our own existence. Bryan Walsh's gripping thought experiment reminds us that the only truly permanent thing we humans can do is go extinct. --"Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now"
It takes a bold reporter and subtle thinker to survey the mortal threats we face and find a way towards hope; yet that is what Bryan Walsh has done in this terrifying, fascinating exploration of existential risk. Cascading catastrophes of the manmade kind are so frightful to consider that we naturally look the other way; but Walsh invites us to reckon with the world we've made, a crucial step towards taking responsibility for saving us from ourselves. The asteroids, the supervolcanoes, the plagues are not of our making; but the nukes, the climate disruption, the weaponized pathogens and challenges of AI are. With a storyteller's art and a scientists tools, Walsh helps us think the unthinkable, takes us to the observatories and laboratories where the future is made. Travel with him to doomsday and back, and nothing looks the same. --"Nancy Gibbs, coauthor of New York Times bestseller The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity"
About the Author
A graduate of Princeton University, Bryan Walsh worked as a foreign correspondent, reporter, and editor for TIME for over 15 years. He founded the award-winning Ecocentric blog on TIME.com and has reported from more than 20 countries on science and environmental stories like SARS, global warming and extinction. Currently he writes for Bloomberg, Newsweek, TIME, and Medium, and consults on sustainability issues for corporations like Apple. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.
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This is the only book that will tell you that, in plain language applied to all variations on the end situation.
Conservatives won't like it; climate change-as-religion types won't like it; but as usual, the person telling the truth is the person who challenges the extremes: Bryan Walsh, in this case.
AND A MESSAGE TO THE CONSERVATIVES WHO HAVE ALREADY HATED THE BOOK:
We're now witnessing a pandemic unfolding in the world--one that Trump called a political hoax. So maybe one reason that Walsh, as you put it, "hates all things Trump" is that Trump, beyond not believing in existential threats or even science, has DEGRADED our ability to prepare for any such.
For open minded thinkers, this probably won't cause you to have sleepless night. However, it sheds some light on just how fragile human civilization is, and how many times we've gotten close to the point of a being history.
I came upon it in the days before the pandemic as a book I would read anyway. His discussions of asteroid hits, supervolcanoes, super-intelligent AI, and alien invasions are all right up my science fiction-lover’s alley. Of course, he’s interested in the reality of such situations but the unlikelihood of one of these things happening anytime soon (i.e. in my lifetime) makes it hard to think of it as something other than fiction.
On the other hand, nuclear annihilation, climate change, and disease all hit rather close to home. I was certain when I was in school back in the seventies and eighties that nuclear war was right around the corner. Though it seems as if nuclear tensions have eased in recent years, it is discomfiting to know how much a danger it remains. Certainly, the scientific evidence of climate change is very unsettling, apart from my anecdotal memories of the blizzards of my youth that have given way to winter after winter with no snow at all.
At the moment, however, the chapter on disease is a must-read. Mr. Walsh got his start in journalism in China coving things like SARS which clearly got him interested in these end-of-the-world scenarios. His descriptions are right on point, all the way down to his predicted government responses to the crisis on p. 192 – 193. I was blown away by how prescient his work appeared.
The earth is constantly being shattered by cataclysmic events and reshaping itself. The dinosaurs are gone thanks to an asteroid. In prehistory, the human race was almost wiped out by supervolcano-induced climate change. But we managed to hang on. (Mr. Walsh points out that only a handful a people have to hand on after a disaster to eventually repopulate the earth.) The things about recent years is that we now understand the things that might kill us all off and we have the potential to do it to ourselves. We also have the potential to save ourselves and that, perhaps, is what makes this book most valuable.