What I see happening is definite warming, roughly 2 climate zones here over 30 years, the further north you go the more pronounced it seems to be. For example, yesterday it was raining, here we never see rain in January and February, almost never in December and March. Until last year. We have just set a record for the warmest period in January in 140 years of records, nearly 3 days above zero C. The only similar case was in 2002.
What we are rivaling is the precursor conditions to the Permian die off. The atmospheric CO2 levels we have created over a couple of centuries of fossil fuel burning have put us well beyond any normal safe level. We may be on the threshold of liberating methane hydrates in a relentless feedback loop, and certainly are embarking on the release of immense permafrost stored carbon, which is potentially more than double present atmospheric CO2. Let alone that our culture is dipping into looking at coal to liquid fuel and tar sands upgrading schemes on threatening scales.
I had heard somewhere that absent our alteration of atmospheric CO2, we should be gradually entering into a new ice age now, permanent snow fields would be developing in Labrador and northern Canada, mountain glaciers would be expanding. The one link above states an official ice age onset in 2,000 years. But obviously our influence on the global environment overshadow such subtle effects for now.
Easter Island. Probably the most perfect example of how environmental catastrophe is achieved. As Jared Diamond described in his book. We shouldn't be deceived that this was a catastrophe of primitive people, their situation was probably more evident than ours, although we have science, proof of geological precedents, global historic weather data, precise satellite surface temperature readings and ocean temperature data. They could look around and appreciate the catastrophic implications.
But short term economic and social needs always trump greater planning. And there's always a class of leaders, priests, politicians, whoever the society admires, rewards, to tell people that whatever they are doing is righteous and without consequences. Tribes didn't make songs and legends about the man who got by adequately. Their heroes were men who could kill whales and mammoth beyond anyone's realistic needs. Plains indians believed that for every buffalo killed, the Creator caused another to spring out of the ground far away. So running 1,000 over a buffalo jump to just eat the tongues was inconsequential, good practice. Restraint and caution are never popular advice when people want more of a good thing.
Today, though we have greater proof and warning than any population has ever had, I fear we are executing a global disaster.