If I am blessed with a very long life, I will gather the village’s little children around a fire, hand out delicious roasted crickets that are only slightly radioactive, and tell them tales about a time when water came out of taps and, if you had enough of something called “money”, you could eat whatever you wanted, even mammals.

“Mammals?” they will cry in horror. Yes, I will reply. Pigs tasted particularly good: we used to eat pigs for breakfast. The youngest children will burst into tears and their parents will rush over to scold me for giving them nightmares, especially because they will all need to wake up at 3am to be strapped onto the air-filtering treadmills. As the little ones are sprayed with leopard repellent and packed off to the sleep-hole, I will poke at the coals and chew on a cricket and remember the early 21st century, and how climate change happened very slowly and then all at once. Here in 2019, all at once seems to be dramatically closer — and closer to home — than it was a year or two ago. Southern Mozambique is still reeling. Durban was inundated this week: at the time of writing 23 people had been killed. Cape Town is on track for its driest April since 2015. You don’t want to see the graph, updated daily by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, tracking the extent of sea ice aroun...

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