Mankind has managed to walk the Earth for at least 200,000 years without irrevocably fouling its nest. It has done so through repeated revolutions and wars, untold disease and pestilence, and a variety of natural disasters. Now, for the first time, we may be on the verge of rendering the planet itself uninhabitable. Or perhaps not, depending on your point of view. The broadest consensus suggests that mankind is poised on a climatic cliff, with indicators of major disruption to our biosphere reaching levels never before seen either in recorded history or buried in the deepest strata of the earth beneath our feet. This is the issue that we set out to explore in the Summer edition of World Policy Journal—how near the precipice are we, and what may lie over the edge, or beneath the morass into which we...

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