Earth is a dangerous place. Of all the species that have ever lived, over 95% have already been extinguished by natural disasters. Ice, not global warming, is the big killer and this recurring calamity often strikes quickly. Thousands of mammoths and other animals were killed by ice storms and their snap-frozen bodies are still entombed in ice around the Arctic. Just 15,000 years ago great ice sheets smothered the northern hemisphere as far south as Chicago, Moscow and London and all life had migrated towards the equator. This deadly ice had gripped Earth for about 50,000 years.
Ice ages are also times of dry winds and drought as cold oceans and cold dry atmospheres produce little evaporation or precipitation. Great deserts like the Sahara and the Gobi expand, and wind-blown dust fills the skies and rivers. Adding to Ice Age woes, cold oceans suck the gas of life (carbon dioxide) out of the atmosphere, thus making surviving plants less able to cope with cold and drought. One of the great serendipities of modern life is that man’s use of carbon-rich fuels like oil and coal not only provides energy but also adds carbon dioxide plant food to the severely depleted carbon stocks of the atmosphere. Satellites have detected the resultant greening of the Earth.