For people working on Climate change, there is this grim fact that hovers over everything: The climate has a tremendous amount of inertia. Like a battleship or a runaway train. Even in the best of all political worlds, even if the world’s nations hopped to attention, switched off their coal plants, de-commissioned their fleets of cars, and de-fossilized the world’s energy economy right away, the planet would keep getting hotter for a long time. How much time is something scientists model and debate, but it is a matter of decades. That fact has very smart people all over the world trying to figure out not how to stop the warming — but how to engineer around it.
Elizabeth Kolbert, staff writer at the New Yorker. Her new book is Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future