glacial state in the Oligocene—serve as only a minor modulator of high-latitude climate variability because climate change will be muted under such elevated atmospheric pCO2 levels. The Greenland ice cap could disappear in the first few coming millennia, and if CO2 levels rise more than two to four times present levels, the West Antarctic ice cap could collapse (Naish et al., 2009), although this conclusion is highly sensitive to orbital configuration and model parameterizations (Pollard and DeConto, 2005). By any measure, exploitation of much of the fossil fuel reservoir over only 300 years will clearly leave a far longer lasting legacy.

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