New evidence from ice buried deep in Antarctica shows that today’s greenhouse gas levels are higher than anything the Earth has seen in 650,000 years. A team of scientists collected ice cores from a depth of two miles in a remote area of Antarctica, allowing them a glimpse far back in time.

They found that levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – three gases that trap heat in our atmosphere – have been rising, since the industrial age began, to levels unmatched anywhere in the ice record that now goes back 650,000 years.

James White, a geologist and climate change expert at the University of Colorado, told the New York Times that the findings, published in the journal Science, mean we are likely in for significant global warming. “CO2 and climate are like two people handcuffed to each other,” he said. “Where one goes, the other must follow … Our current CO2 levels appear to be far out of balance with climate when viewed through these results, reinforcing the idea that we have significant modern warming to go.”

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