When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realise that one cannot eat money

I was listening to ‘Still Processing’, an excellent podcast presented by two culture writers with The New York Times, when they introduced that week’s guest. It was David Wallace-Wells, the climate columnist for New York Magazine, and the author of The Uninhabitable Earth, a devastating look at what our future will look like on Earth if global warming continues unabated. The article he wrote by the same name, which went viral in 2017, made for terrifying reading, and the book, with its chapter headings like ‘Heat Death’ and ‘Plagues of Warming’ doesn’t appear any more cheerful.

Wallace-Wells predicts that we have approximately 12 years before we reach a catastrophic level of environmental destruction that will be almost impossible to come back from. At that point, I had to switch the podcast off because I felt so anxious. Twelve years is soon. There’s something quite bittersweet about the fact that so many of us have fought for a world in which we are equal, where basic human rights are afforded to all people, regardless of their gender, sexuality, race, or religion, and after all that, there might not even be a world left to save.

I don’t claim to be an expert in this field — shamefully, I must admit I find the material too anxiety-provoking to read enough of it to even call myself ‘well-versed’ — but I do trust the experts who have dedicated their lives to measuring and monitoring the impact that global warming has had.

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