What’s going to happen in the future (and for that matter, what’s happening right now that nobody knows about)? Data from 20 million years ago explain why the earth is warming so much faster than expected, and suggest that a phenomenal climate catastrophe could take place within ten years. This is not good news.

Despite the fact that global warming can sometimes lead to colder weather, that’s not what’s happening right now: The overall the trend is towards hotter weather. Climate researcher Gerald Meehl says, “Climate change is making itself felt in terms of day-to-day weather in the United States. The ways these records are being broken show how our climate is already shifting.”

The last 800,000 years have been mapped from ice cores drilled in Antarctica, where historical temperatures and atmospheric content have left a chemical clues in the layers of ice. But they may not be telling an accurate story. Researchers have now used the sediment from the ocean floor to figure out what CO2 levels were 20 million years ago. We now learning more about the history of climate change on the earth. In BBC News, Richard Black quotes researcher Aradhna Tripati as saying, “What we have shown is that in the last period when CO2 levels were sustained at levels close to where they are today, there was no icecap on Antarctica and sea levels were higher. At CO2 levels that are sustained at or near modern day values, you don’t need to have a major change in CO2 levels to get major changes in ice sheets.”

Black quotes researcher Jonathan Overpeck as saying, “This is yet another paper that makes the future look more scary than previously thought by many.”

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