Elizabeth Kolbert: We have locked in centuries of climate change
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Elizabeth Kolbert covers climate change for the New Yorker. She’s the Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction. And she recently wrote a paragraph I can’t stop thinking about. “The problem with global warming—and the reason it continues to resist illustration, even as the streets flood and the forests die and the mussels rot on the shores—is that experience is an inadequate guide to what’s going on. The climate operates on a time delay. When carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, it takes decades—in a technical sense, millennia—for the earth to equilibrate. This summer’s fish kill was a product of warming that had become inevitable twenty or thirty years ago, and the warming that’s being locked in today won’t be fully felt until today’s toddlers reach middle age. In effect, we are living in the climate of the past, but already we’ve determined the climate’s future.”Kolbert lives, to an unusual degree, in the planet’s future. She travels to the places around the world where the climate of…