A great anecdote (and cover) from the Independent in Britain:
In April 1989 Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister, gave her Cabinet a seminar on global warming at No 10 and one of the speakers was the scientist and green guru James Lovelock. A reporter asked him afterwards what would be the first signs of global warming. He replied:"Surprises." Asked to explain, he said: "The hurricane of October 1987 was a surprise, wasn’t it? There’ll be more."
The floods of 2007 were a surprise as well, and if Dr Lovelock is right, there’ll be more of them too. Welcome to the weather of the 21st century.
What’s scary is that Lovelock has been right in the past, and in his most recent book cogently and scientifically argued that we are facing not just gradual warming, but an abrupt temperature leap that will threaten, yes, civilization as we know it.
From The Revenge of Gaia, in the chapter "Forecasts for the 21st Century:"
Although we have much to learn, it does appear probable that in a few years, when the carbon dioxide abundance passes 500 ppm, we will enter the zone where temperatures will rise to a new steady state, perhaps six to eight degrees hotter than now. We do not know if this new regime will be stable in the long term, and if we are foolish enough to continue trying to farm and pollute the air on the remaining habitable parts of the Earth, a final collapse might happen. Nothing in science is certain, but Gaia theory is now robustly supported by evidence from the Earth and it suggests that we have little time left if we are to avoid the unpleasant changes it forecasts.