Centuries of fossil fuel extraction and combustion and the failure to transition to clean energy have locked in a certain amount of climate change and resulting destruction, the IPCC report issued in February made clear. The question now, according to a deeply-reported survey of vulnerable locations worldwide in GQ, is: “How much irreversible planetary damage are we willing to accept in order to continue extracting and burning fossil fuels?”

The difference between 1.5°C (2.7°F) and 2°C (3.6°F) of global temperature increase above preindustrial levels is existential for communities dying of heatstroke in of Jacobabad, Pakistan; coral reefs devastated by bleaching near the Line Islands in very middle of the Pacific, vineyards poisoned by wildfires and drought in Napa Valley, California; vanishing seals and coastal erosion caused by sea ice loss around Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut, Canada; barren ski slopes in the Italian Alps; melting permafrost holding in methane and pathogens like smallpox in Yakutia, Russia; ecosystems vulnerable to complete collapse in the Miombo Woodlands of Southern Africa; and communities rocked by hurricanes in Antigua and Barbuda. “People don’t realize,” Julia Baum, a marine biologist at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, told GQ, “that every tenth of a degree matters.” (GQ)