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Once carbon dioxide concentrations became low enough (around 300 parts per million) between two and three million years ago, the current ice age cycle began. sodar99 / Getty Images

By James Renwick

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.

If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz

Earth had several periods of high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and high temperatures over the last several million years. Can you explain what caused these periods, given that there was no burning of fossil fuels or other sources of human created carbon dioxide release during those times?

Burning fossil fuels or vegetation is one way to put carbon dioxide into the air – and it is something we have become very good at. Humans are generating nearly 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year, mostly by burning fossil fuels.

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A view of the Piton de la Fournaise crater. Malavika Vyawahare

By Malavika Vyawahare

Giant tortoises and flying foxes once roamed La Réunion, a volcanic island off the eastern coast of Africa. Then humans arrived and decided to stay. Within 150 years of their appearance, large fruit-eating animals like the giant tortoises (Cylindraspis indica) and flying foxes (Pteropus niger), a type of bat, were wiped off the face of La Réunion.

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By Jason Bittel

Since Hawaii's Kilauea volcano began erupting in early May, we've been mesmerized, month after month, by videos depicting what can happen when molten rock dances through the air, forms gigantic rivers or crashes into a Ford Mustang.

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Mount Agung eruption on Nov. 28, 2017. I Gusti Bagus Sudiantara / Flickr

On Wednesday the Indonesian government opened an airport on Bali as wind blew away ash spewing out of a volcano, clearing the air for planes and giving residents and tourists a chance to escape.

In the past several days, the volcano has disrupted operations at Bali's airport, the second-busiest in Indonesia, while tens of thousands of residents living within a 10-kilometer radius of Mount Agung have been told to leave. Around 43,000 people had fled, but an estimated 90,000 to 100,000 people were still living in the eruption zone.

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