The Mauna Loa Observatory is reporting that for the second time in world history we are on the verge of topping 400 ppm in the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide. The last time was in the Pliocene Epoch, 5 million years ago, when temperatures were two-three degrees Celsius above today’s averages and the sea level was 25 meters higher.

Although climate scientist James Hansen reported a decade ago that civilization was in danger if the atmosphere passed 350 ppm, due to “unprecedented” greenhouse emissions today we’re on the fast-track to 450 ppm. Mauna Loa says we’re currently at 399.72 ppm.

Meanwhile, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich summed up climate change and environmental downfall at the University of Vermont last week: “We’re basically sawing off the limb that we’re sitting on.”

Ehrlich cited signs, such as today’s diminishing natural resources that he noted were recognizable from studying earlier human cultures which disappeared from the planet. (See Jared Diamond’s Collapse). “I believe and all of my colleagues believe that we are on a straightforward course to a collapse of our civilization,” he said.

Environmental and population problems, noted Ehrlich, have scientists troubled, saying “The scientific community has spoken out repeatedly and in detail about this.” But, Ehrlich said, scientists have been largely ignored by the media and, hence, politicians and business.

Today, indeed fracking is being promoted in Virginia’s George Washington National Forest; tar sands are being exploited in Alberta; mountain-top removal is galloping across West Virginia; oil is being forced out of shale in North Dakota; deepwater drilling under 9,000 feet of sea water is beginning near Brazil; and the Japanese are seeking an even greater source of greenhouse emissions, methane hydrate, in the deep, deep Pacific.