The second edition of this book has been completely updated. It studies the history and gives an analysis of extreme climate change on Earth. In order to provide a long-term perspective, the first chapter briefly reviews some of the wild gyrations that occurred in the Earth’s climate hundreds of millions of years ago: snowball Earth and hothouse Earth. Coming closer to modern times, the effects of continental drift, particularly the closing of the Isthmus of Panama are believed to have contributed to the advent of ice ages in the past three million years. This first chapter sets the stage for a discussion of ices ages in the geological recent past (i.e. within the last three million years, with an emphasis on the last few hundred thousand years).