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David Wallace-Wells Speaks at the U on International Day of Climate Action

In 2017, David Wallace-Wells wrote “The Uninhabitable Earth,” an essay that swiftly became the most-read in New York Magazine’s history. This work was created from countless interviews with climatologists and related field researchers, encapsulating insights from hundreds of scientific papers about climate change. In 2019, he delved deeper, publishing a book expanding on the essay’s initial themes concerning our biosphere’s prospective future and scientific forecasts.

The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah is honored to host David Wallace-Wells for the Tanner Lecture on Human Values at the Marriott Library Gould Auditorium, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, at noon. A book signing hosted by The King’s English will follow with copies for purchase.

“We are incredibly lucky to have David Wallace-Wells, one of the nation’s foremost journalists, coming to Utah,” said Jeremy Rosen, associate director of faculty. “Writing about the climate crisis for the New York Times, he is uniquely positioned to discuss how the stories we tell can intervene in destructive patterns and change the world for the better.”

Described as “an extremely adept storyteller, simultaneously urgent and humane despite the technical difficulty of his subject,” by Slate, Wallace-Wells has continued to write extensively on issues of climate and societal impact over the last decade. With a focus on public-facing work, Wallace-Wells harnesses his talents as a communicator and leader in the field of climate science in his New York Times newsletter, allowing readers to gain a closer look at issues of technology and future scientific explorations.

Wallace-Wells’ writing often spans topics across the field of scientific advancement and development in the natural world. He wrote on wildfires and forest management in September of this year, “If we thought trees might save us, that is looking increasingly like a foolish bet. In many parts of the world, including some of the most densely forested, trees are not perfect allies for tree-huggers anymore, and forests are no longer reliable climate partners.”

His 2019 feature in The Guardian, “Adapt or Die. That is the Stark Challenge to Living in the New World we Have Made,” poses questions about future ecosystems and humanity’s role. By investigating the scale of ongoing variations in climate and natural disasters, Wallace-Wells urges for a change in how technology is used to address changing environmental challenges. He writes, “The challenges will grow, in some cases exponentially, but the blueprint of adaptation is there for all to see, a photo-negative of all of the impacts that scientists have told us to expect even within the next few decades.” In many ways, David Wallace-Well’s writing provides a perspective on how to look to the future of scientific advancement with eager expectation and cautious realism in the hopes that we will better understand our role as human participants in the natural world.