Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Uninhabitable Earth

(Being a climate activist is the bravest and boldest thing you will ever do, for to read and essay such as this by David Wallace-Wells, comprehend his writings, understand the challenges humanity faces and then despite the subsequent chaos and still find hope and reason to continue demands hitherto unseen courage. Most concerned about the worsening climate, often feel as if they face this dilemma alone, but they don’t as scientists and thinking people around the world stand with you, as I do - Robert McLean


It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

Even when we train our eyes on climate change, we are unable to comprehend its scope. This past winter, a string of days 60 and 70 degrees warmer than normal baked the North Pole, melting the permafrost that encased Norway’s Svalbard seed vault — a global food bank nicknamed “Doomsday,” designed to ensure that our agriculture survives any catastrophe, and which appeared to have been flooded by climate change less than ten years after being built.


Read the essay in the New York Magazine by David Wallace-Wells - “The Uninhabitable Earth.”

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