By 2080, southern Europe will be in a state of permanent drought. Ancient diseases will arise from melted glaciers, where they've been brewing for centuries. The heat index will be so severe that it induces hyperthermia in sleeping humans. Economic collapse will magnify the Great Depression fourfold.
These are just a few of the claims David Wallace-Wells makes in his climate epic, "The Uninhabitable Earth," the July cover story of New York Magazine. "It is, I promise, worse than you think," begins his account of what's in store for humanity if we don't take major action to combat climate change. Scientific projections of extreme weather, economic collapse, social conflict, and widespread disease are written one after another on a laundry list of horror.
It's a paralyzing piece, but that's not the point. Instead of freezing readers in hopelessness and despair, it's meant to scare them into action—or at least out of complacency. So far, it seems to be working. The article is already the most-read in the magazine’s history.
Not all of the response has been positive, and many have come forth doubting two things: its accuracy and overall tone. The magazine released an annotated version of the text to address the first complaint, complete with transcripts of interviews with climatologists and researchers. The second one, though, is still up for debate.