Climate change: swift political action can avert a carbon dioxide crisis | Observer editorial
Spreading deserts, rising sea levels and increasingly erratic violent storms look destined to blight our planet.
Earth has not had 400ppm of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere for millions of years. When it did, the Arctic was ice-free and sea levels were 40 metres higher. Our species has therefore never lived in a world that will be as hot as the one we are creating for our children and grandchildren. Civilisation rests on the happy fact that since the last ice age, the planet's climate has been cool and stable, giving ancient farmers a chance to experiment with the growing of grasses and plants and so create the crops that now sustain billions of humans. All that is set to change, as temperatures rise, deserts extend and life-sustaining weather patterns are disrupted. Hundreds of millions of people would then be rendered homeless.
It is an apocalyptic vision. Yet it is not quite our destiny.