Our Finite Planet

  • There Is No Planet B

    Some 10-12 billion years ago, quantum fluctuations in energy density interacted with interstellar dust particles about the size of particles of cigarette smoke. Thus began the formation of our galaxy and our planet Earth.

  • A Short History of the Climate and Extinction

    In the history of the Earth, stretching back billions of years, has there ever been a time when the climate was changing as it is today, and can such a time show us exactly what will happen next? The short answer is no.

  • The Climate at the Birth of Homo Sapiens

    Modern Humans, Homo sapiens, have existed for perhaps 300,000 years, and maybe longer. But agriculture and civilization only started about 10,000 years ago. What took so long?

  • The Climate on the Eve of Civilization

    Between twenty and ten thousand years ago the Earth’s orbit changed, increasing the solar energy reaching the planet by more than 10%. This set into motion a series of feedbacks that caused the Earth to warm, enabling the birth of agriculture—and civilization.

  • The Human Footprint: The Causes and History of Climate Change

    Like other animals, on some level humans have always understood our dependence on the weather and the changing seasons. Modern climate science, a combination of many disciplines, has given us knowledge of how the weather and the seasons now depend on us, and about our own outsized impact on our finite planet.

  • The Rocky Road to a Sustainable Future

    As Nathanial Rich points out in his book Losing Earth, “There can be no understanding of our current and future predicament without an understanding of why we failed to solve this problem when we had the chance.”