New York is out with an assessment of climate change, and the piece by David Wallace-Wells is drawing attention for its blunt language. Witness the very first line: "It is, I promise, worse than you think." Wallace-Wells begins by noting that most people, assuming they believe that global warming poses a threat, worry most about rising seas and what they might do to coastal cities such as Miami. They're right to worry, he says, but that's not the half of it. "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." Not helping, he adds, is that scientists sometimes play it too safe in their writing instead of laying out how dire they think the situation actually is. They become "timid" in the face of critics.
The piece runs through a litany of potential problems, including Bahrain-like temperatures in New York, unbreathable air, food shortages as crop land turns to desert, perpetual war, plagues unleashed by melting permafrost, economic collapse, and poisoned oceans. “No matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough," he writes. Wallace-Wells makes clear he's not making predictions of what will happen but what could happen unless things change. And he closes with the view of more optimistic sorts who think that human ingenuity, which got us into the mess in the first place, could someday get us out of it, too. But for that to happen, people first need to "truly see the world we've made." Click for the full story, or a view in the Atlantic that argues Wallace-Wells is overstating certain points. Failing that, read a happy story about a rescued dog. (Read more Longform stories.)