24 January 2020

Giri Nathan: “Climate change will warp human life in diverse ways: mass migration, drought, agricultural failure, rising seas. Besides these brazen, urgent threats to life itself, there are also lesser, subtler threats to ways of life, as global culture is deformed by the changing planet. What will sports, for one, look like in the end times? This past week at tennis’s Australian Open offered one of the clearest, grimmest visions yet of that future. … [T]he air in Melbourne was described by a state health official as ‘worst in the world’; its Air Quality Index qualified as ‘hazardous’ for all people… Meanwhile, dozens of players seeking spots in the tournament’s main draw were told it was safe to venture outdoors and compete in tennis matches that often last several hours. … Going to work in these conditions was, for some players, brutal. … ‘The more I think about the conditions we played in a few days ago, the more it boils my blood,’ wrote world No. 234 U.K. player Liam Broady… ‘Citizens of Melbourne were warned to keep their animals indoors the day I played qualifying, and yet we were expected to go outside for high-intensity physical competition?’ … The world is coming apart in novel ways that tennis functionaries — to say nothing of global leaders — have yet to grapple with.”