Dan Levitan, writing at ”The Outline” website, put the global reaction to David Wallace-Wells’ button-pushing climate change article in New York Magazine, where he has worked as an editor and a reporter for many years, this way, noting that the local yuppie culture of consumption magazine with a national readership “published a terrifying story outlining the end of the world as we know it. ‘Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think,’ read the tagline. The tale was gripping, and the [stark image on the magazine’s cover[ of a fossilized human hand drove the point home: Climate change is happening, and it’s very scary. Some climate scientists took issue with just how scary, rejecting the story as clickbait. But given that 30 percent of Americans still believe that the effects of global warming have yet to begin, maybe clickbait isn’t such a bad idea.”
“Climate reporting can sometimes have the appeal of a PBS-TV special; the cover story, written by David Wallace-Wells, is what would happen if that PBS special was directed by [Hollywood’s disaster porn director] Michael Bay. The piece takes us through a series of worst-case scenarios: temperatures soaring to unlivable levels, oceans suffocating nearly all life within them, and terrifying diseases rising from thawing ice and permafrost to wreak havoc on our unsuspecting immune systems,” Levitan added, noting that the article had received over 50 million page views worldwide since its quiet, unannounced publication on July 9, a normal Sunday in Manhattan.
The article was read by so many people — half of whom loved it for sticking its neck out, and half of whom criticized it for sticking its neck out too far — that many readers wondered just who this David Wallace-Wells was and how he got that hyphenated surname.
How did the famous Manhattan brother journos, just a few years apart, David Wallace-Wells of New York Magazine and Benjamin Wallace-Wells of the New Yorker magazine, get their last name? In his article in New York magazine, David explained some of his family background, writing: ”My father’s, for instance: born in 1938, among his first memories the news of Pearl Harbor and the mythic Air Force of the propaganda films that followed, films that doubled as advertisements for imperial-American industrial might; and among his last memories the coverage of the desperate signing of the Paris climate accords on cable news, ten weeks before he died of lung cancer last July. Or my mother’s: born in 1945, to German Jews fleeing the smokestacks through which their relatives were incinerated, now enjoying her 72nd year in an American commodity paradise, a paradise supported by the supply chains of an industrialized developing world. She has been smoking for 57 of those years, unfiltered.”