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There is something rather ludicrous about a learned paper on the political and social implications of the end of the world. Obviously, since we do not have much reliable historical information about this sort of event, the author can only offer some speculations which, however well-informed, are of debatable quality. And the reader, insofar as he or she actually believes in impending disaster, will doubtless be disappointed by the absence of any specific recommendations about how to survive. Yet while this exercise may seem foolish, it is undertaken because of the conviction that it would be even more foolish for our society to continue as if drastic climatic change were an impossibility.