In the Hollywood disaster thriller The Day after Tomorrow, a climate catastrophe of ice age proportions catches the world unprepared. Millions of North Americans flee to sunny Mexico as wolves stalk the last few people huddled in freeze-dried New York City. Tornadoes ravage California. Giant hailstones pound Tokyo.
Are overwhelmingly abrupt climate changes likely to happen anytime soon, or did Fox Studios exaggerate wildly? The answer to both questions appears to be yes. Most climate experts agree that we need not fear a full-fledged ice age in the coming decades. But sudden, dramatic climate changes have struck many times in the past, and they could happen again. In fact, they are probably inevitable.
This article was originally published with the title Abrupt Climate Change.