The Queen of England is concerned; she has asked Tony Blair to please do something about global warming. Even Lord Oxburgh, the British chair of Shell Oil, is depressed about it. Last June he was quoted in the Guardian as saying that the burning of oil and gas threatens the planet, and that unless emissions can be captured and stored below ground or under the sea, there is “very little hope for the world.” There is something fascinating about the end of the world. During the 1950s and ‘60s, when everyone was terrified of the atomic bomb, a slew of after-the-apocalypse science fiction novels appeared, many of them featuring mutated creatures and forbidding blasted landscapes. At the same time, a slew of optimistic projections popped up in newspapers and magazines, proclaiming a great future in which robots would do all of the work while we flew around in private helicopters. But now, with several real apocalypse scenarios before us, writers and broadcasters seem to be ignoring it all, except for the occasional plaintive appeal from a scientist, economist or environmentalist, and who listens to them any more? Most of the current disasters are slow-moving ones, without the burning flesh and seared land of nuclear holocaust scenes. They just aren’t good television. What’s a poor disaster junkie to do? In High Tide: The Truth About Our Climate Crisis (Picador), Mark Lynas, a British journalist, describes his travels around the world in search of disaster stories. He found plenty: disappearing glaciers in South America, melting permafrost in Alaska, growing stretches of barren desert in northern China. But they are gradual disasters. People are coping and adapting, as we do, and no one is asking the plants and animals about it.