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The world is burning. Who can convince the comfortable classes of the radical sacrifices

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Nero fiddled while Rome burned. The saying takes on new meaning after the hottest July ever, devastating wildfires in Greece and Canada, and the declaration by the UN secretary general, António Guterres, that we’ve left behind “global warming” for “global boiling”.

But this time our Neros – AKA governments – aren’t the only ones shirking their responsibilities. What are the rest of us doing while the world burns?

Feel helpless yet? Me too. The climate crisis calls for a radical rethink of our cushy, carbon-heavy lives and our collective willingness to make sacrifices for future generations. But raised in a world of comfort and convenience, I get annoyed when there’s no wifi. I don’t do sacrifice. I need someone to show me how.

Simone Weil, the French philosopher, political activist and not-quite-Catholic mystic, died 80 years ago. Although known for her work on attention and affliction (very basically: extreme, dehumanising suffering), Weil wasn’t one for abstract theorising. Hers was a lived philosophy demanding she put everything on the line – and with a…

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