Back in autumn 2019, when COVID was still just a twinkle in Satan’s eye, the world was already hurtling toward crisis. The Arctic Sea ice was historically minimal, and global temperatures historically high. “Once in a lifetime” storms were devastating the Caribbean every year, while wildfires gave the West Coast an annual taste of hell on Earth. The latest IPCC report read like extremely dry and dystopian work of hard sci-fi. The world’s most powerful nation appeared hell-bent on expediting the ecological eschaton. And Adam Tooze, the great historian of global calamities, was working on a book about how all this came to be.
Then, history intervened. Tooze turned his attention to the pandemic, embarking on an account of the COVID era’s economic upheavals. Meanwhile, in the United States, epidemiological and political crises took precedence over the climatic one.
But now, like a ne’er-do-well car-accident victim waking from a coma, America is emerging from an acute disaster, only to reenter the slow-motion catastrophe it calls normal life. Shots are in arms and a Democrat is in the White House — but the climate crisis is ever-deepening, and U.S. decarbonization efforts remain lacking.
Read the full interview at New York Magazine.