“The most honest book about climate change yet.” —The Atlantic
“The Infinite Jest of climate books.” —The Baffler
A timely, eye-opening book about climate change and energy generation that focuses on the consequences of nuclear power production, from award-winning author William T. Vollmann
In his nonfiction, William T. Vollmann has won acclaim as a singular voice tackling some of the most important issues of our age, from poverty to violence to the dark soul of American imperialism as it has played out on the U.S./Mexico border. Now, Vollmann turns to a topic that will define the generations to come--the factors and human actions that have led to global warming. Vollmann begins No Immediate Danger, the first volume of Carbon Ideologies, by examining and quantifying the many causes of climate change, from industrial manufacturing and agricultural practices to fossil fuel extraction, economic demand for electric power, and the justifiable yearning of people all over the world to live in comfort. Turning to nuclear power first, Vollmann then recounts multiple visits that he made at significant personal risk over the course of seven years to the contaminated no-go zones and sad ghost towns of Fukushima, Japan, beginning shortly after the tsunami and reactor meltdowns of 2011. Equipped first only with a dosimeter and then with a scintillation counter, he measured radiation and interviewed tsunami victims, nuclear evacuees, anti-nuclear organizers and pro-nuclear utility workers.
Featuring Vollmann's signature wide learning, sardonic wit, and encyclopedic research, No Immediate Danger, whose title co-opts the reassuring mantra of official Japanese energy experts, builds up a powerful, sobering picture of the ongoing nightmare of Fukushima.
About the Author
William T. Vollmann is the author of ten novels, including Europe Central, which won the National Book Award. He has also written four collections of stories, including The Atlas, which won the PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction, a memoir, and six works of nonfiction, including Rising Up and Rising Down and Imperial, both of which were finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His journalism and fiction have been published in The New Yorker, Harpers, Esquire, Granta, and many other publications.
Praise for No Immediate Danger:
“Carbon Ideologies is an almanac of global energy use . . . a travelogue to natural landscapes riven by energy production . . . a compassionate work of anthropology that tries to make sense of man’s inability to weigh future cataclysm against short-term comfort . . . one of the most honest books yet written on climate change.” —Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic
“No Immediate Danger tussles with the comprehension-defying nature of climate change . . . terrifying insights are to be found . . . It embodies the confusion of our current moment, the insidiousness of disbelief, and the mania-inducing reality that our greatest threat is the hardest to act upon. It is a feverish, sprawling archive of who we are, and what we’ve wrought.” —The Washington Post
“In the face of complex, contested data, Vollmann is a diligent and perceptive guide. He’s also deeply mindful of those who’ve been sacrificed in the name of profits and political expediency. Amid the Trump administration’s rollbacks of environment protections, these are incontestably important books.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“Vollmann’s many fans . . . will not be disappointed . . . he packs research and voice into his impassioned works . . . Reading these two books did have an effect on me; I became even more conscious of the resources I waste in my own life.” —John Schwartz, The New York Times Book Review
“One of the enjoyable things about this massive work is the way Vollmann employs irony, and that bluntest of irony called sarcasm, throughout the volume. He can be quite humorous. You might even call this the Infinite Jest of climate books . . . there’s something admirable, even noble, about the sheer time and effort—and sheer humanity—that went into these volumes.” —The Baffler
“Equal parts gonzo journalism, hand-wringing confessional, and one hot mess . . . the books document Vollmann’s quest to understand how capitalism, consumerism, and fossil fuels are ruining the planet.” —Sierra
“The best part of the books [are] the conversations Vollmann had during his travels, the sensitive histories he gives of the places he visited, and the moral impressions those conversations and places have made on him. It’s these parts that made Carbon Ideologies a unique, lasting, definitive contribution to the global warming literature.” —The Humanist “An elegy to our damned epoch that’s also a work of enlightenment and education . . . the book is a performance of the vexations involved in trying to understand our energy reality . . . [Vollmann’s] project—not unlike that of his historical fiction—is to show with utmost fidelity what it was like to be a human involved in terrible things.” —The Los Angeles Review of Books
“[Provides] profound insights into both Japanese society and universal themes regarding the human response to and preparation for major disasters and tragedies.” —The International Examiner
“Vigilant in his precision, open-mindedness, and candor, Vollmann takes on global warming . . . [His] careful descriptions, touching humility, molten irony, and rueful wit, combined with his addressing readers in ‘the hot dark future,’ makes this compendium of statistics, oral history, and reportage elucidating, compelling, and profoundly disquieting.” —ALA Booklist (starred)
“[A] rewarding, impeccably researched narrative . . . Vollmann apologizes to the future that we’ve ruined, charting how our choices of energy sources made the planet scarcely inhabitable.” —Kirkus Reviews