Part II of “The Politics of ‘Climate Emergency'”
The periodic reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body charged with assessing the science related to climate change, and the World Meteorological (WMO), a specialized agency of the UN which monitors changes in weather and climate and assesses the behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere, have charted the impending disaster in increasingly ominous language. Extreme climate events, far in excess of the occasional hurricane or drought that made it to the world news twenty years ago, have been aplenty: raging fires in Australia and the United States; record flooding in Europe, Africa, and Kerala; droughts in Argentina, Uruguay, and Afghanistan; and heat waves in London, Paris, and, to add a new gloss to the idea of the surreal, Greenland. The scenes of devastation are writ large in the language of apocalypse. “Australia’s hellish fire season has eased,” states a recent article in the New York Times, “but its people are facing more than a single crisis.” The word “hellish” alerts us to the extraordinarily trying times that Australians have already experienced and will doubtless have to go through before their ordeal is over—if it is over: the cycle of “drought, fire, deluge” is repeated with intensifying effect.