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We No Longer Live On The Kind, Comfortable, Stable Planet We Evolved On

For the last ten thousand years that constitute human civilization, we've existed in the sweetest of sweet spots.

The temperature has barely budged; globally averaged, it's swung in the narrowest of ranges, between fifty-eight and sixty degrees Fahrenheit. That's warm enough that the ice sheets retreated from the centers of our continents so we could grow grain, but cold enough that mountain glaciers provided drinking and irrigation water to those plains and valleys year round; it was the 'correct' temperature for the marvelous diverse planet that seems right to us. And every aspect of our civilization reflects that particular world.

We built our great cities next to seas that have remained tame and level, or at altitudes high enough that disease-bearing mosquitoes could not over-winter. We refined the farming that has swelled our numbers to take full advantage of that predictable heat and rainfall; our rice and corn and wheat can't imagine another earth either. Occasionally, in one place or another, there's an abrupt departure from the norm--a hurricane, a drought, a freeze. But our very language reflects their rarity: freak storms, disturbances.

 

 

 
 
 

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