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Without discounting the very real impact of climate change, de Villiers (Windswept) steps back from global warming brinkmanship to suggest that, in fact, "we've been living in a little bubble of stability in a great sea of chaotic change" and that cataclysm is the universe's normal condition. He casts back billions of years to report that mass extinctions have at times wiped out 96% of all species living in the seas, the world has cycled through several monumental ice ages, collisions with comets and asteroids have altered life on Earth (in 1996 a three-quarter-mile-long asteroid passed within four hours of our planet) and land-shattering earthquakes have a transformed continents. More recently in known history, massive volcanic explosions have dramatically influenced global temperatures and human life half a dozen times, most recently Krakatoa in 1883 and Pinatobu in 1991, and notes that noxious gases, mammoth tsunamis, great floods, "vile winds, tropical cyclones and tornadoes," plagues and pandemics continue to threaten human survival. De Villiers's conclusion, contrarian and more controversial than calming, is that despite the fight against global warming, "the planet is always changing, and so must we." (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.