Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.
By David Wallace-Wells
July 9, 2017 9:00 pm
Peering beyond scientific reticence.
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.
- Will global warming lead to Earth’s demise? July 12, 2017
And “Annotated” follow-up published on 14 July 2017
When Will Climate Change Make the Earth Too Hot For Humans?
The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition – The facts, research, and science behind the climate-change article that explored our planet’s worst-case scenarios.
By David Wallace-Wells July 14, 2017 2:06 pm
We published “The Uninhabitable Earth” on Sunday night, and the response since has been extraordinary — both in volume (it is already the most-read article in New York Magazine’s history) and in kind. Within hours, the article spawned a fleet of commentary across newspapers, magazines, blogs, and Twitter, much of which came from climate scientists and the journalists who cover them.
Some of this conversation has been about the factual basis for various claims that appear in the article. To address those questions, and to give all readers more context for how the article was reported and what further reading is available, we are publishing here a version of the article filled with research annotations. They include quotations from scientists I spoke with throughout the reporting process; citations to scientific papers, articles, and books I drew from; additional research provided by my colleague Julia Mead; and context surrounding some of the more contested claims. Since the article was published, we have made four corrections and adjustments, which are noted in the annotations (as well as at the end of the original version). They are all minor, and none affects the central project of the story: to apply the best science we have today to the median and high-end “business-as-usual” warming projections produced by the U.N.’s “gold standard” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In short, the words of Lord Nicholas Stern are particularly sobering in this regard:
We need to ask, have the scientists been effective in communicating the gravity and urgency of the research conclusions they have reached? Or are we going to face the circumstances described by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway in their short — and very sobering — novel: The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future
For further articles and interviews with Naomi Oreskes, see: