The Earth is presently in an interglacial period—a period between ice ages. Since the end of the last ice age, Earth’s surface temperatures have been above the temperature needed to maintain ice sheets and glaciers, which covered much of the land masses at mid-to-high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. As a result, those ice sheets and glaciers have been melting for tens of thousands of years and sea levels have risen…and will continue to rise until the start of the next ice age.
Many of us are old enough to remember the scare stories from the 1970s, a time when climate scientists were warning that Earth was returning to an ice age.
For fun, imagine the multidecadal uptick in global surface temperatures didn’t happen from the 1970s to present—that global surfaces actually cooled a comparable amount, that sea levels were dropping, that glaciers and ice sheets were gaining mass.
Would mankind still be blamed? What would be different?