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Chilling out

So who authored global warming? I have just read a heavy three-part story on the subject in the New Yorker by Elizabeth Kolbert called The Climate of Man. Kolbert writes that in the seventeen-eighties, carbon-dioxide levels stood at about the same level that they had been at two thousand years earlier, in the era of Julius Caesar, and two thousand years before that, at the time of Stonehenge, and two thousand years before that, at the founding of the first cities. But by the mid-nineteen-seventies, they had risen by as much as they did during the previous ten thousand years. In political terms, Kolbert concludes, “global warming might be thought of as the tragedy of the commons writ very, very large. It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing”. Well, maybe. In my capacity as a bottle-half-full optimist, I reckon the cultural transformation necessary for a radical lighting of the economy is almost certainly under way. Whether it’s enough change, and in time – well, it’s too soon to say.

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