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The Collapse of Western CivilizationA View from the Future$
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Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169547

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169547.001.0001

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The Coming of the Penumbral Age

The Coming of the Penumbral Age

(p.1) 1 The Coming of the Penumbral Age
The Collapse of Western Civilization

Naomi Oreskes

Erik M. Conway

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes the coming of the Penumbral Period, and the fall of Western civilization. Historians view 1988 as the start of the Penumbral Period, when world scientific and political leaders created a new, hybrid scientific-governmental organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to communicate relevant science, and form the foundation for international governance to protect the planet and its inhabitants. But critics claimed that the scientific uncertainties were too great to justify the expense, and the inconvenience of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change denial spread widely by the end of the millennium. The year 2009 is viewed as the “last best chance” for the Western world to save itself, as leaders met in Copenhagen, Denmark, to try to agree on a binding, international law to prevent disruptive climate change. However, in 2023, the leaders still refused to accept that what lay behind the increasing destructiveness of disasters was the burning of fossil fuels.

Keywords:   Penumbral Period, Western civilization, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change denial, fossil fuels, climate change

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