British scientists have discovered a period in geologic history where abrupt cooling occurred during a period of rapid warming. While the mechanism for this event approximately two million years ago remains unknown, the event happened very suddenly, and left the entire planet with a profoundly different weather system.

The struggle to survive the change is believed to have contributed to the evolution of the human species.

According to a report in the magazine Science, the event resulted in a dieback of the lush vegetation of the period, and must have triggered a desperate survival struggle among most species existing at the time, including early man.
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A group of scientists from 99 different countries have issued a warning that the climate change problem has become urgent and Earth could heat up by over 40 degrees Fahrenheit this century.

The report was issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agroup of experts assembled by the United Nations, and its conclusions areharder-hitting than most earlier reports about the extent and causes ofglobal warming. “The scientific consensus should sound alarm bells in everynational capital,” said Klaus Toepfer of the UN Environment Program.
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New satellite images reveal that large Antarctic ice sheets are “just a fewdegrees” away from a potentially catastrophic meltdown. If the ice melts,billions of gallons of water will rush into the oceans, raising sea levelsmuch more rapidly than has been predicted.

Polar ice has been melting for the past 14,000 years, and sea levels havebeen steadily rising. The EPA has been predicting a rise of a foot eachcentury. But if Antarctic ice sheets melt, the world’s oceans could suddenlyrise 3 feet by the year 2100, which would wipe out large, low-lying areas ofcontinents as well as entire island nations. Hundreds of millions of peoplecould have their homes permanently disappear.
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It has been discovered that a dramatic rise in temperature hit Antarctica about 19,000 years ago, followed by an equally sudden decline. Like similar data from Greenland ice cores, this suggests that global climate change may not happen gradually, but that extreme changes can come about very quickly, even without the present human contribution to global warming.

James White, a professor at the University of Colorado, and his colleagues analyzed deep-ice cores drilled in Antarctica over the past 2 years. This finding “gives us a road map to the way big climate changes occur,” he said.
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