Chuck Greene is director of the Ocean Resources and Ecosystems Program, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and a fellow of the Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University. He coordinates the University’s Sustainable Earth, Energy, and Environmental Systems Program.

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During the past 2.5 million years, Earth’s climate has demonstrated remarkable volatility, shifting in and out of glacial and interglacial conditions in synchrony with cycles in the Earth’s orbital configuration relative to the sun. This same 2.5 million-year period coincides with the time frame for the evolution of modern humans from their …

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