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Flames rise as a fire front approaches the Lake Casitas area on December 8, 2017 near Ojai, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

In 2017, Mother Nature taught us a lesson.

For years, climate scientists have predicted a future marked by hell and high water, and 2017 will be remembered as the year that Mother Nature provided us with textbook examples. Last year was the second hottest on record, and it reached that rarified status without the presence of the heat-boosting El Niño Oscillation in the Pacific. Our atmosphere now has a sustained 403 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, jumping past 410 ppm line last April for a short time. The last time that CO2 broached this level was several million years ago, when sea level was dozens of feet higher.

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