The dangers associated with climate change can sound like a science fiction dystopia: melting Himalayan glaciers and a shrinking Greenland ice sheet; sea-level rise inundating coastal populations from Florida to Bangladesh and submerging sovereign island nations; rainforests succumbing and species migrating en masse; droughts leading to colossal forest fires; and more frequent, more powerful storms that show up in unusual places (like Sandy in New York).

The potential for warming to accelerate...

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