The United Nations in 1988 entrusted the future of civilization to a loosely confederated, all-volunteer band of Earth scientists and economists. This coterie has a long, bureaucratic name with no memorable abbreviation. It was charged with taking the temperature, so to speak, of the whole planet and advising governments on how big a problem they had their hands. Turns out, a big problem.
Early next week the group drops the last of four massive tomes that together make up its fifth report in a quarter century. In essence, next week's edition is a synthesis of the thousands of pages of synthesis that started coming out last fall.