The Uninhabitable Earth

Francis Gooding at the LRB:

‘We have already exited the state of environmental conditions that allowed the human animal to evolve in the first place,’ Wallace-Wells writes, ‘in an unsure and unplanned bet on just what that animal can endure. The climate system that raised us, and raised everything we now know as human civilisation, is now, like a parent, dead.’ He is not a climate scientist, so is perhaps less circumspect than he might be: the data here is designed to scare us. ‘I am alarmed,’ he writes. Who isn’t? We know exactly where we are, despite the continuous chatter of doubt and denial. Wallace-Wells is scathing about the oil industry, whose disinformation clogs public discourse and waylays political processes: ‘A more grotesque performance of corporate evilness is hardly imaginable, and, a generation from now, oil-backed denial will likely be seen as among the most heinous conspiracies against human health and well-being as have been perpetrated in the modern world.’

How on earth are we supposed to think about all this horror? How do we plan for the future or raise children knowing what we know? The magnitude and implications of climate change short-circuit the imagination. Wallace-Wells cites the novelist Amitav Ghosh, who has suggested that we fail to put climate change into proper perspective because we don’t yet have the stories to comprehend it.

more here.