Philip Hoare at Literary Review:
Some 40 per cent of the earth's ice-free land mass is now intensively farmed to produce food. Only 12 per cent of its rivers run freely to the seas. Nearly one billion people go hungry every day; 1.5 billion are overweight or obese. Each year, more than 300,000 sea birds die on fishing lines and 100 million sharks are killed. Every square kilometre of sea contains 18,500 pieces of floating plastic. Only 1 per cent of the world's urban population are breathing air clean enough to meet EU standards according to a 2007 report by the World Bank (the Chinese government, fearing social unrest, redacted it on publication).
These are the facts we hear every day, yet we seem inured to their impact. In the wake of last February's storms, I took a train ride across Suffolk and into Essex. The land around the tracks was flooded, it was an almost apocalyptic scene, yet my fellow passengers barely gave the inundation – and the devastation that it represented to both the wildlife and the human managers of the land – a second glance. It felt like a glimpse of the future: a drastically changed world, greeted with a weary shrug of the shoulders.