Is climate change unstoppable?

The New Yorker has published a highly controversial essay on climate change by US author Jonathan Franzen. In the piece Franzen calls on humanity to prepare for the consequences of climate change, which he says can no longer be prevented. Not all commentators agree.

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The New Yorker (US) /

Don't fight the wrong fight

In an essay published in The New Yorker author Jonathan Franzen writes:

“All-out war on climate change made sense only as long as it was winnable. Once you accept that we've lost it, other kinds of action take on greater meaning. Preparing for fires and floods and refugees is a directly pertinent example. ... In times of increasing chaos, people seek protection in tribalism and armed force, rather than in the rule of law, and our best defense against this kind of dystopia is to maintain functioning democracies, functioning legal systems, functioning communities. In this respect, any movement toward a more just and civil society can now be considered a meaningful climate action.”

Spiegel Online (DE) /

Defeatism is a lame excuse

A climate apocalypse is by no means inevitable, climate and marine researcher Stefan Rahmstorf argues in a guest commentary on Spiegel Online:

“Franzen believes that the apocalypse will come as soon as global warming reaches 2.1 degrees - and beyond that it doesn't matter anymore. ... But the climate crisis will constantly worsen, from two to three to four degrees, and it will always be worthwhile to fight against every additional tenth of a degree. ... Giving up is not an option - certainly not before we've tried the obvious measures. ... Defeatism is above all a convenient stance. You can get cosy and lament the slowly unfolding climate disaster without having to do anything about it. Defeatism, like denying there's a problem, is nothing but an excuse for doing nothing. It's an irresponsible stance.”

Mediapart (FR) /

A necessary confrontation with the abyss

Franzen has provided a very useful point of departure for public debate, Vicent Rigoulet counters in his blog with Mediapart:

“This is a radical but perfectly rational point of view. It should be placed at the centre of the debate and examined with utmost lucidity, even if the truth he is expressing is almost unbearable. It's the task of writers to go beyond opinion, false hopes and shared illusions, to take us to the edge of the precipice and force us to look down. This is the precondition for saving what can be saved and limiting the deaths - and suffering - of tomorrow.”