A series of three powerful presentations on the past, present and future of climate and change, and humanities reaction to it, have been presented at the EGU General Assembly 2011. Examining factors such as ice melting rates in Greenland and Antarctica, as well as looking at the pre-historic records for large scale atmospheric change millions of years ago, the data presented showed large fluctuations in climatic conditions, but not on the rapidity of change that currently exists. Although individual measurements show the expected statistical variations associated with such a complex system, what is clear is the systematic trend and the stress that it will put on human systems: social and economic, as well as aspects of resource management.
As the subject develops, the scientific community is diversifying from just measuring and understanding the changes, but also to the strategy for coping with it. A major conference will be held on this next year. Details can be found at their website: http://www.planetunderpressure2012.net/
See also: http://egutoday.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/science-under-fire-5/