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TAKING THE TEMPERATURE

TAKING THE TEMPERATURE

After a year defined by a global struggle against a civilization-altering crisis, it’s almost too much to consider that another, even more catastrophic plight is bearing down on us. But it’s impossible to overstate the magnitude of the climate crisis, which is set to radically upend the existence of every person and creature on the planet.

The parallels are more than superficial: Like the pandemic, the solutions to climate change are circumscribed by an entanglement of the state and the individual, the structural and the personal. The failures to combat it are even more profound than the ones that allowed COVID-19 to kill millions around the world. After decades of hoping the next generation would figure out how to pay down the climate debt of their parents and grandparents, cataclysm can now only be averted — or, more realistically, ameliorated — by a radical and immediate realignment of priorities at the global level (e.g., dismantling capitalism as we know it). Yet the everyday actions of individuals — every plane ride, every Big Mac, every plastic straw (just kidding, sort of) versus each bicycle trip, each vegan bowl, each reusable cup — also accrete into consequence. And the response to the pandemic from both state and person, particularly in the West, yields depressingly little hope for how we will handle the next existential challenge.

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