A buffalo corpse seen rotting on the side of the road in southern Iraq on November 11, 2018.
Severe droughts, caused by a combination of climate change, dams and internal water mismanagement, are creating a nightmare for buffalo herders in the region.
Or, as Wallace-Wells puts it, “We have now done more damage to the environment knowingly than we ever managed in ignorance.” I spoke with Wallace-Wells about just how dire the situation is, what it means for humans to survive in a climate that no longer resembles the one that allowed us to evolve in the first place, and if he believes we’ve already crossed a fatal ecological threshold for our species.
A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows. The future looks pretty dark from where we are now.
But as Vox’s David Roberts explained at the time, those criticisms were mostly misplaced.
Wallace-Wells isn’t counseling despair or saying all is lost; he’s merely laying out the alarming facts of what is likely to happen if we don’t radically change course.
On virtually every conceivable metric, things are going to get considerably worse.
And if we don’t change course rapidly, they’re going to get catastrophically worse.
Part of the problem when discussing climate threats is that so much of it feels abstract or distant.
But as soon as you begin to quantify the damage, it’s pretty harrowing.