Snow falls over the Wumen Gate of the Forbidden City at night in Beijing February 17, 2009. China took credit on Tuesday for the first snowfall of the winter in Beijing, saying it fired sticks of chemicals into the sky to seed clouds in a bid to end a persistent drought.
Jason Lee / Reuters

Each year, the effects of climate change are coming into sharper focus. Barely a month goes by without some fresh bad news: ice sheets and glaciers are melting faster than expected, sea levels are rising more rapidly than ever in recorded history, plants are blooming earlier in the spring, water supplies and habitats are in danger, birds are being forced to find new migratory patterns.

The odds that the global climate will reach a dangerous tipping point are increasing. Over the course of the twenty-first century, key ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, could shift radically, and thawing permafrost

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