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M A R C H 2 0 1 4 V O L U M E 8 6 | N O 3 Publisher Graeme Gourlay Editor Geordie Torr Staﬀ Writer Olivia Edward Art Editor Angela Finnegan Sub-editor Charlie Furniss Equipment Editor Paul Deegan Cartographer John Plumer Operations Director Simon Simmons Accounts Ramesh Parshotam Advertising Manager Nada Vulic Editorial Advisory Board Chris Bonington, Ron Cooke, Nicholas Crane, Rita Gardner, Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Annabel Huxley, Vanessa Lawrence, Nick Middleton, David Rhind, Anthony Sattin, Nigel de N Winser Address Geographical, Suite 3.20, QWest, Great West Road, Brentford, Middlesex TW8 0GP Telephone: 020 8332 8434 Fax: 020 8332 8438 Email: email@example.com Advertising Department Telephone: 020 8332 8445 Fax: 020 8332 8438 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions Geographical, Freepost (SCE 12967), Thatcham RG19 4BR Telephone: 01635 588 496 Fax: 01635 868 594 Email: email@example.com Annual subscription rates UK: £54, EUROPE: £67, USA: £76, REST OF THE WORLD: £77 Newsstand sales and marketing Imagine, London Telephone: 0845 612 0092 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Newsstand distribution Fastmag, Circulation Department Telephone: 01582 475 333 Email: email@example.com © Geographical Magazine Ltd Registered No. 07457559 Printed by Polestar, Colchester, Essex CO4 4HT
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ISSN: 0016 741X
04 | March 2014
When I irst became editor of Geographical, I resisted running stories about global warming and climate change. At the time, I rather foolishly assumed that the debate was over, that everyone was in agreement that anthropogenic climate change was a reality and that the only remaining question was how we could best avoid its worst consequences.
Now, almost a decade on, the ‘debate’ still rages. Climate change denial is rife. My country of origin, Australia, has a new prime minister by the name of Tony Abbott, who has been quoted in the past as saying that: ‘The argument [behind climate change] is absolute crap.’ Here in the UK, several Tory MPs have expressed doubts (and worse) about the science of climate change and it’s far from clear whether the government sees the issue as worthy of more than passing attention.
But it’s obvious that time is running out. The science is telling us that there’s a limit to the amount of carbon dioxide that we can pump into the atmosphere if we’re to avoid ‘catastrophic’ climate change and we’re set to reach that limit soon.
And yet it seems as though climate change is generally considered to be something that we’ll have to worry about in the future. Where’s the sense of urgency?
In this special issue of Geographical, we’ve gathered together evidence from all over the world that climate change is already a reality. Some of the evidence is, perhaps, ambiguous, some it may well prove controversial, some of the systems involved are complex and their responses to the addition of heat are di icult to nail down, but I hope that taken together, the material herein will serve as a warning of what’s to come.
C O N T R I B U T O R S
Regular contributor Mark Rowe, who covers several areas in this issue (pages eight, 14, 24 and 52), says he’s frustrated that climate change deniers still have ‘such a disproportionate voice in the media’. ‘I expected my interviewees to couch some points in nuanced terms, to hedge their bets,’ he says. ‘But it was striking that the people best qualified to talk about climate change are no longer prepared to qualify their views – to them, it’s utterly unambiguous’
Psychologist Professor Stephan Lewandowsky writes about why denial of anthropogenic climate change is still a popular position, despite the supporting data (page 64). He says that his research into denial has made him more skeptical about his own thought processes. ‘I constantly check whether my opinions are unduly influenced by my world views, and whether I’m overlooking inconvenient data,’ he says
‘Working on this feature made me think again about my own consumption,’ says Hazel Southam, who writes about the eﬀect of climate change on agriculture (page 58). ‘The more I’ve learnt about climate change, the more I’ve changed how I live. I absolutely believe that we can – and must – make a diﬀerence as individuals. I’ve reported on four G8 summits and seen that although politicians drag their feet on this issue, they are swayed by public pressure’
On the cover: Hurricane Sandy (NASA); melting icebergs, Greenland (Henk Meijer/Alamy); flooding in a Belarus village (Viktor Drachev/ AFP/Getty Images); cracked earth, Namibia (Shutterstock)
March 2014 | UK£4.50
MAGAZINE OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY (WITH I BG)
Climate change Here... Now...