130 Degrees

Illustration by Anders Nilsen

Bill McKibben in the New York Review of Books:

So now we have some sense of what it’s like: a full-on global-scale crisis, one that disrupts everything. Normal life—shopping for food, holding a wedding, going to work, seeing your parents—shifts dramatically. The world feels different, with every assumption about safety and predictability upended. Will you have a job? Will you die? Will you ever ride a subway again, or take a plane? It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

The upheaval that has been caused by Covid-19 is also very much a harbinger of global warming. Because humans have fundamentally altered the physical workings of planet Earth, this is going to be a century of crises, many of them more dangerous than what we’re living through now. The main question is whether we’ll be able to hold the rise in temperature to a point where we can, at great expense and suffering, deal with those crises coherently, or whether they will overwhelm the coping abilities of our civilization. The latter is a distinct possibility, as Mark Lynas’s new book, Our Final Warning, makes painfully clear.

Lynas is a British journalist and activist, and in 2007, in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate conference, he published a book titled Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planetlpl竞猜官网. His new volume echoes that earlier work, which was by no means cheerful. But because scientists have spent the last decade dramatically increasing understanding of the Earth’s systems, and because our societies wasted that decade by pouring ever more carbon into the atmosphere, this book—impeccably sourced and careful to hew to the wide body of published research—is far, far darker.

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