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  1. Environment
27 October 2021updated 29 Oct 2021 2:16pm

What we lost: writers on the climate crisis

As the planet heats, our natural world is rapidly changing. Seven leading names recall a loss in their lifetime.

By Ai Weiwei, Thomas Keneally, Richard Flanagan, Ahdaf Soueif, Orhan Pamuk, Annie Proulx and Tessa Hadley

Ai Weiwei: Leaving Beijing was not just a political choice – I was a climate refugee

In the 1970s Beijing was like other cities in China. There were no private cars. Bicycles formed a matrix in the streets, advancing slowly forward.

Richard Flanagan: Tasmanian tigers are lost to us now – and the rainforests they roamed could go the same way

Just enough remains in Tasmania to remind me that we live in the great autumn of things. I still see swift parrots and spotted pardalotes.

Ahdaf Soueif: In Egypt, we watch as concrete is sunk into the Nile

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I have lost the ability to talk to my grandchildren happily and hopefully about the world.

Annie Proulx: In New Hampshire forests, the threat of ash annihilation looms

I hear baseball bat makers are stockpiling ash trees before their extinction.

Tessa Hadley: At bedtime, I realise there aren’t as many insects in the night-time invasion

In autumn now, brushing through bleached long grass, isn’t the raised cloud of dust-coloured living things sadly diminished?

Orhan Pamuk: A revolting white sheen appeared on the Marmara Sea, dubbed sea snot

In June, the beaches of Istanbul were shut down, like the sea snails and shrimp that had disappeared long before.

Thomas Keneally: Midwinter Sydney days reach 24°C, and I dream of glacial mornings

In the bush town where I started school, the dairy farmer’s kids had chilblains in winter. The chilblains are gone now.

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This article appears in the 27 Oct 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Our Fragile Future