The Evolving Climate

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Hot, dry, wet, cold, the weather affects our mood. Just ask the fractious Europeans, or the G-I’s and Iraqis roasting in Baghdad. So consider the impact of violent change, drought and flood, ice ages and yes, global warming.

The prehistoric climatic flip flops shaped our evolution, a dramatic heating of the Earth was the prelude to each Ice Age. Our forebears thrived and multiplied in the hot times, and then were all but wiped out in the freeze. Only the wiliest survived, adaptable, better models, bigger brains. Now the planet’s heating again, thanks to us. Which means the next Ice Age is looming, give or take a few thousand years. We’re at the controls of evolutionary forces, but maybe not smart enough to drive them the right way.


William Calvin, author of “A Brain for All Seasons: Human Evolution and Abrupt Climate Change.”