My book is out in the US today!
A data-driven look at our environmental problems and how to solve them.
Happy book publication day to me!
My first book – Not the End of the World – is now out in the US and will be out in the UK (and elsewhere) on January 11th [edit: it seems some people in the UK and other parts of the world have already received their copy: how publishing works still escapes me…].
It takes a data-driven look at the world’s environmental problems, and how to solve them.
What many have found surprising is its cautiously hopeful tone. That’s quite rare for an environmental book. This doesn’t come from the belief that “things won’t be bad” or that we are on a good path on climate, or other environmental problems. We are not. We are on a very dangerous path – one that is a massive threat to many people in the world.
Instead, it comes from the fact that I believe we can fix them. These are solvable problems, and we are now in the best position we’ve been in to tackle them. Some of them we’ve already solved. I refuse to accept that our future is doomed, and I want to push back against the growing narrative that it is.
The optimism that comes through in the book is not ‘stupid’ or ‘complacent’ optimism – the feeling that things will turn out fine. If we sit back and do nothing, things won’t be fine. Instead, I put forward the case for urgent optimism: the understanding that we can tackle these problems with focused and ambitious human effort. That is not based on intuition or feelings; it comes from looking at the data.
The book is not just about climate change. Chapter by chapter, I cover air pollution, climate, deforestation, food, biodiversity loss, ocean plastics, and overfishing. Seems overwhelming: but the good news is that many of the solutions cross-cut multiple problems at the same time.
Incredible people have said very nice things about the book. I wanted to get a diversity of blurbs for it. Put my ‘blurbers’ in a room and they’d have a lot to argue about. They will have varying degrees of optimism and different outlooks on solutions. That’s intentional. If people across the spectrum find at least some common ground in my book, then that’s a massive victory.
I want to try to depoliticise many of these challenges; if we’re to tackle them we need to find ways of engaging across the spectrum. Speaking to a small audience will not work, regardless of how engaged they are.
David Wallace-Wells (author of The Uninhabitable Earth): “The climate and environmental crisis now has its Hans Rosling. Hannah Ritchie has charted an invigorating, inspiring, often surprising tour of recent human history and the many marks of progress it contains. Will the world make good on that optimism in the future? That is up to the rest of us.”
Bill Gates: "With comprehensive data and sometimes counterintuitive conclusions, Hannah Ritchie does for the environment what Hans Rosling did for health . . . I hope people around the world read this book, understand our planet isn’t a lost cause, and get inspired to help fix it."
Rutger Bregman: “I find it hard to express how much I love this book. Hannah Ritchie brilliantly picks up where Hans Rosling left off. Her book shines with practicality and positivity. It will banish your feelings of doom, help you focus on what’s really important and make you want to be a part of the most effective solutions to our greatest challenges.”
Mark Lynas (author of Six Degrees): “Data is a superpower. Let Hannah Ritchie show you the world as it really is. Then go out and change it for the better.”
Helen Czerski: "A refreshing perspective on the problems that the world faces, providing plenty of optimism while not sugar-coating the deep structural challenges at the root of it all."
Many more quotes and reviews here:
If you do buy and read the book: thank you very much. It means a lot. I hope it offers some fresh perspective on the problems we face, and how to solve them.
I’m confident that there will be things in the book that you’ll like, and other things you’ll hate. That’s okay: I’ll be happy if the book generates some constructive discussion on how we move things forward. I won’t achieve that by saying things that everyone agrees with.
Most of all, I hope it does even a small amount to drive action in solving these problems. They won’t fix themselves, so we better get going.
Data and sources
Not the End of the World is filled with charts and data. That's fundamental to the book: I try to understand the world through data and research, not anecdotes or headlines.
I've made a website with some additional resources and interactive versions of charts that are used in the book. I wanted to do this for a few reasons:
Explore data for other countries: the charts in the book often show data for one, or a few countries (because I can't show the data for 180+ countries on every chart). But I know that many people will be interested in what's going on in their own country. The interactive charts will let you do that.
Transparency: I want my work and sources to be transparent. You should be able to dig into the underlying data to see the methodology, more in-depth definitions, and more. I also want people to be able to track progress over time – the interactive charts should be updated every year or so.
Highlight the work of data providers: My work and writing are reliant on the invaluable work of data providers and researchers. They do the hard work; I just try to explain it. Here, I wanted to give more credit to them – because references at the back of a book always seem a bit underwhelming. To the individuals and projects doing this work: thank you.
You can explore these resources here: