Life after climate change, with David Wallace-Wells

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After years of hovering on the periphery of American politics, never quite the star of the show, it seems that climate change is having a moment. An ambitious Green New Deal, backed by a large and active youth movement, identifies global warming as a national emergency and seeks to completely decarbonize the US economy. While it’s a long way from becoming law, it has forced all the Democratic candidates to take very public positions on the subject. Climate, it seems, is finally becoming a priority.
But do people really understand it? According to journalist David Wallace-Wells, no, they do not. “It is worse, much worse, than you think,” his book begins, and over the course of several hundred pages, it makes that case in rich, harrowing detail.
The sheer variety and scope of physical damages — droughts, storms, heat waves, sea level rise — is greater, and coming faster, than most people appreciate. But that’s just the beginning. Wallace-Walls also considers how a century dominated by global warming will change our politics, our art, and our very self-conception.
David Roberts sat down with David Wallace-Wells to discuss the latest science of climate change, the way that political and scientific reticence have caused us to underestimate it, his hopes (such as they are) for the future, and the stories he tells himself about the world his daughter will grow up in. It’s not happy news, but it’s a fascinating conversation.
Recommended reading:
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Really Big One by Kathryn Schulz
The Fever by Wallace Shawn
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