Could an incoming asteroid cause human beings to go the way of the dinosaurs? Will artificial intelligence make the world a better place – or make human beings obsolescent? Could a massive volcanic supereruption thrust the planet into a killer Ice Age? What would happen the day after a nuclear war? Bryan Walsh, a 15-year veteran reporter and editor of TIME, has written a vital work of popular science and investigative journalism that will peel back the layers of complexity around the unthinkable – the end of humankind.
In End Times, Walsh provides a stunning panoramic analysis of the catastrophic dangers of human extinction that emerge from nature and those of our own making: the rising danger of a nuclear war, and the shockingly weak government protocols in place to prevent it; the climate change that threatens to burn the future even as our politicians deny and delay; ground-breaking emerging technologies like gene editing, tools that could save the world – or destroy it. Walsh examines the impact of these disasters were they to happen, the true probability of these world-ending catastrophes, and the best strategies for prevention, all pulled from his rigorous and deeply thoughtful reporting and research.
End Times may be dark, but it does not wallow in doom. Walsh goes into the room with the men and women whose job it is to imagine the unimaginable. He includes stories and colourful profiles of those on the front lines of prevention, actively working to head off existential threats in biotechnology labs and boardrooms. Guided by Walsh's evocative, page-turning prose, we follow the likes of the asteroid hunters at NASA and the disease detectives on the trail of the next mass killer.
Walsh examines the possibility of apocalypse in all forms, employing everything from geology to astronomy, bionics, economics and even human psychology to determine how we can apocalypse-proof our species. In the end, it will be the breadth of our knowledge, the depth of our imagination, and our will to survive that will decide the future.
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.
– Time Magazine: "11 New Books to Read in August!"
– Eco Watch: "Best Environmental Books of August"
"A harrowing chronicle of a range of threats that could bring about human extinction in the not-so-distant future."
– The Washington Post
"Walsh does wonders in unknotting the dizzying agendas fueling many of the existential risks explored in End Times."
– Scientific Inquirer
"Instead of freaking out, read End Times. It's a wise and weirdly hopeful journey into civilization's darkest nightmares."
– Jeff Goodell, author of The Water Will Come
"It's not easy thinking about all the ways the world can end, let alone writing a whole book about them. But Bryan Walsh has managed the feat and then some, delivering a book that's as analytically astute as it is terrifically written. It takes a special kind of writer to pull this off, and in Bryan Walsh we found him."
– Ian Bremmer, New York Times bestselling author of Us Versus Them: The Failure of Globalism
"In End Times, Bryan Walsh has put together the loudest, scariest wake-up call possible. And yet it's not a book without hope: Walsh lays out a challenging series of believable scenarios that can allow human beings to thrive along with our fellow earth-dwellers, in a way that requires only qualities we already have: compassion, intelligence, focus, and determination"
– Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist and bestselling author
"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