Razor’s Edge of a Warming World — GQ Magazine — Coyote Gulch

Click the link to read the article on the GQ website (Emily Atkin AND Caitlin Looby). Here is an exerpt :

This reality is one that all of the earth’s inhabitants are now grappling with: if we are to preserve the places we love, we must focus on moving away from fossil fuels now. The latest United Nations climate report, released in February, made it clear that irreversible destruction can no longer be avoided. The question is no longer “How can we solve climate change?” It’s “How much irreversible planetary damage are we willing to accept to continue extracting and burning fossil fuels?”

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The hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet, 56.7 degrees Celsius (134 degrees Fahrenheit), was in California’s Death Valley. But Jacobabad, in the Pakistani province of Sindh, is perhaps the hottest city in the world, and perhaps the most unlivable. Summer temperatures regularly exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit); According to a recent study, Jacobabad – with a population of 190,000 and a surrounding district of one million – is one of two cities in the world where temperatures and humidity levels have reached a point where the human body can no longer cool down, and did it four times…

Coral reefs are vital both to human societies and to the ocean ecosystem. They protect shorelines from storm surges and erosion, and serve as nurseries for marine life. They are also terribly threatened by warming waters, which produce conditions that turn them ghostly white and expose them to a blanket of algae. That’s what Kim Cobb saw one day in 2016 when she swam to the reef in the Central Pacific’s Line Islands chain that she had been studying for 18 years. A heat wave had killed or bleached 95% of the corals…

Last July, Julie Johnson strolled through her vineyard in the town of Napa Valley, St. Helena. The vines seemed exhausted and the neighboring lands were scarred by forest fires. But that was hardly shocking: the western United States is in the midst of a mega-drought, the worst in more than a millennium. California’s 2020 wildfire season burned 42% of Napa County’s land. And now warmer temperatures are changing the soil, and the wine itself…

The approximately 15,000 Inuit who inhabit Qikiqtaaluk, also known as the Baffin region, an area mostly made up of arctic islands between Greenland and the Canadian mainland, are known for their resilience. In 2019, the Canadian government formally apologized for years of traumatic colonial practices, including the forced resettlement and separation of parents and children. But now the Qikiqtani face a different threat. They depend on the sea ice to hunt seals, a tradition that fulfills important economic and cultural functions. This ice is now deteriorating in Baffin Bay, including in the Qikiqtarjuaq area, an island that is home to just under 600 people. Locals acknowledge that the reduced and less stable sea ice has made hunting more difficult…

One of the ski regions most affected by climate change is the Italian Alps, where some 200 resorts have already closed. And this trend could soon get worse: a study predicts that with a warming of 1.5 degrees, Italy would see around 750,000 fewer overnight stays each winter, and around 1.25 million fewer stays in a 2 degree scenario …

With temperatures regularly reaching minus 40 degrees Celsius, Yakutsk in eastern Siberia is known as the coldest city in the world. Like much of the surrounding region of Yakutia, the city sits atop permafrost, a layer of ground that traditionally remains frozen year-round. But the permafrost here has begun to melt, triggering a potentially catastrophic sinking. “The difference between 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius, for this type of permafrost, is the difference between life and death,” says Vladimir Romanovsky, a geophysicist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, who has studied the Yakutian permafrost. Of particular concern is the type of permafrost found in Yakutia, which contains unusually large amounts of ice, Romanovsky says. “If it’s a huge amount of ice, then this whole foundation will turn into a lake,” he says. “Imagine if it’s on a slope.”

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Stretching across southern Africa, the Miombo Woodlands – named after the umbrella-shaped miombo trees – are home to elephants, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, buffaloes, antelopes and giraffes. But it is becoming a less hospitable habitat: rainfall is now more sporadic and intense, while climate change threatens to increase forest fires and endanger a number of the region’s charismatic megafauna, such as the black rhinoceros in critically endangered, already long threatened by poaching…

The world’s islands are, of course, threatened by rising sea levels, but many of those same places face another peril exacerbated by climate change: hurricanes. This danger was shockingly highlighted in 2017, when a pair of hurricanes passed through Antigua and Barbuda within days of each other; Irma damaged 81% of Barbuda’s buildings. “Our region has been decimated by Irma and Maria,” Gaston Browne, the country’s prime minister, told GQ.


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