“State of the World 2009”

Published annually in 28 languages, State of the World is probably the most authoritative guide to the state of the planet. This year, the 26th edition of the Worldwatch Institute’s handbook focuses on climate change. It is packed with chilling facts about global warming.


Within as little as 12 years, the impact of climate change will mean water shortages for as many as 250 million Africans. Arctic sea ice is now at an all-time low, and for the first time in recorded history it has been possible to pilot a ship from the Atlantic to the Pacific without travelling by way of the Panama Canal or Cape Horn. In the 20 years since climate change was first identified, greenhouse-gas emissions have risen by 37%, and the rate of increase is accelerating.

Welcome to the Anthropocene, the first geological age of our own making. As a species we find it difficult to think long-term, and this could be a fatal flaw. But the contributors to this essential primer on the climate crisis think it is not too late to act: “How we handle the challenge ahead will make for history on an epic time scale.”

State of the World 2009: Confronting Climate Change
Linda Starke (editor)
Earthscan, 2009

By PD Smith


Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited, 2009