Not long ago, scientists discovered that the Earth's climate is capable of changing abruptly, as if a switch were flipped, instead of slowly over hundreds or thousands of years. In the past, this type of abrupt change may have caused droughts, floods, and even regional cooling. For example, one archeologist says a long deep drought 4,200 years ago caused the collapse of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Could global warming, which is gradually heating the planet, could bring Earth to another such "tipping point"? To find the answer, geologists are poring over evidence of past climate shifts by drilling for ice cores in Greenland's ice cap for evidence of past climate shifts and climate modelers are using computers to discover whether today's breadbaskets could become tomorrow's deserts.
Producers: Daniel Grossman and John Rudolph
Editors: Loretta Williams and Deborah George
Host: Ira Flatow
Coordinating Producer: Sasha Aslanian
Project Coordinator: Misha Quill
Production Assistance: Ellen Guettler, Samantha Kennedy, and Neil Tassoni
Mixing: Craig Thorson and D.B. Cooper
Executive Editor: Stephen Smith
Executive Producer: Bill Buzenberg
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©2004 American Public Media