Within as little as 12 years, the impact of climate change will mean water shortages for as many as 250 million Africans. Arctic sea ice is now at an all-time low, and for the first time in recorded history it has been possible to pilot a ship from the Atlantic to the Pacific without travelling by way of the Panama Canal or Cape Horn. In the 20 years since climate change was first identified, greenhouse-gas emissions have risen by 37%, and the rate of increase is accelerating.
Welcome to the Anthropocene, the first geological age of our own making. As a species we find it difficult to think long-term, and this could be a fatal flaw. But the contributors to this essential primer on the climate crisis think it is not too late to act: “How we handle the challenge ahead will make for history on an epic time scale.”
State of the World 2009: Confronting Climate Change
Linda Starke (editor)
— By PD Smith
Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited, 2009