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Climate Language

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Andri Snær Magnason, the Icelandic writer and poet famous for writing a memorial to a dying glacier, has spent the last decade searching for the right words to capture a problem as big as the overheating planet. For most people, what climate change really means for humanity’s future hasn’t sunk in yet; otherwise, he reasons, everyone would be clamoring for action. How do you make that terrifying reality sink in faster, he wondered? Magnason’s book On Time and Water, recently released in the United States, is his attempt to answer that question. 

During the years he spent gathering research for his book, the world changed dramatically. Countries signed the Paris climate agreement, renewable energy capacity quadrupled, and the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg rose to international fame. “What if the world will be saved before the book comes out?” Magnason found himself thinking. “It would be really disappointing if, you know, you spent 10 years writing a book, and then the problem is solved when it comes out,” he said over a video call, laughing. 

Of course, that didn’t happen. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is now risin... Read more

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