The point isn’t to belittle the dangers posed by climate change. It’s to recognize that the best way to communicate those dangers to a skeptical public may not be to hype them. Wallace-Wells devotes a good part of his excerpt arguing that outright alarmism is the only way to rouse a deaf world to the perils that await us. I doubt it. More than anything else, that approach to persuasion resembles the exaggerations and distortions that many people associate with advertising, electoral campaigns, and, increasingly, political debate more generally — all of which regularly float hyperbolic claims that are all-too-easy to dismiss precisely because of how unhinged and partisan they sound.

And there we see the defining paradox of our time: The more we shout, the less we hear. The more we exaggerate, the less we believe. And the more we hype the truth as we perceive it, the less likely we are to think anyone else has anything valuable to say.