In the flat in which I stayed in Cape Town in February, the bathtub felt like a relic of a lost civilisation. It may never be used again. Beside it was a shower containing an egg timer. The two-minute wash has been standard here since the recent three-year drought. In the city’s public bathrooms, a dribble comes out of the tap. Posters everywhere warn against wasting water. This is what adapting to climate change looks like. In 2018, Cape Town nearly became the first big city on Earth to run dry. Daily water rations dropped to 50l per person per day, with the spectre of 25l if supplies ran out on “Day Zero”. The drought broke just in time, but the city’s planners now expect permanent water scarcity. Rationing, which initially felt like wartime austerity, has become normal. We have collectively decided not to stop climate change — carbon dioxide emissions hit a record in 2018 — so the future will be about mitigating its effects. Every region faces its own threat, whether from heat, f...

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