The fears of top climate scientists: inside the 17 May edition

<span>The cover of the 17 May edition of the Guardian Weekly.</span><span>Photograph: Getty/Guardian Design</span>
The cover of the 17 May edition of the Guardian Weekly.Photograph: Getty/Guardian Design

The Guardian’s environment editor Damian Carrington is no stranger to the world’s top climate experts, speaking to them often in the course of his work. But in the last year or so he noticed a change in tone from many of them, who seemed to be losing faith in the world’s ability to keep global heating to the 1.5C target.

So, Damian decided to get a real feel for what was going on. He approached every contactable lead author or review editor of reports by the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2018. To his surprise, almost half of the 843 scientists on the list replied.

“What they said shocked even me,” he admits.

In a special report this week, we reveal the fears of those scientists expressed in the starkest terms. “I expect a semi-dystopian future with substantial pain and suffering for the people of the global south,” said one.

“I am scared mightily – I don’t see how we are able to get out of this mess,” admitted another.

Some of the scientists do express hopes that change can be driven by a new younger generation. And we asked them about the most powerful climate actions they believe we can all take in our daily lives.

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Five essential reads in this week’s edition


The big story | The emptying of Rafah
As the threat of an all-out assault from Israel grows, Jason Burke and Malak A Tantesh speak to some of those caught up in the miserable evacuation of Gaza’s second-largest city, while Peter Beaumont asks whether Israel could be facing a diplomatic storm of sanctions.


Spotlight | Are London’s all-male clubs opening up to women?
In the light of a vote by Garrick club members to allow women to join after 193 years, Amelia Gentleman looks at others who may or may not follow suit.


Science | Is the world ready for bird flu?
The H5N1 virus has been devastating bird populations and is now infecting mammals too. David Cox asks whether human-to-human transmission could come next.


Opinion | The decline of the ANC
The party of Nelson Mandela has left South Africa a land of broken dreams and its time seems over, writes Simon Tisdall.


Culture | Reframing Freud
Rose Boyt has written a remarkable memoir based on diaries she kept while being painted by her father, the artist Lucian Freud. The Observer’s Tim Adams spoke to her.


What else we’ve been reading

Following the death of indie rock icon Steve Albini, the artist Will Oldham spoke to the Guardian’s Ben Beaumont-Thomas about his friendship and working relationship with the producer. A moving and candid tribute to someone who left an indelible mark on alternative music over the course of his four-decade career. Clare Horton, Assistant editor


Other highlights from the Guardian website

Audio | Put it down! Should children be allowed smartphones?

Video | It’s complicated: why genocide is so hard to prove

Gallery | More than meets the eye: Valérie Belin, master of mirage – in pictures


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