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Global warming is real and has been with us for at least two decades. Questions arise regarding the response of the ocean to greenhouse forcing, including expectations for changes in ocean circulation, in uptake of excess carbon dioxide, and in upwelling activity. The large climate variations of the ice ages, within the last million years, offer the opportunity to study responses of the ocean to climate change. A histogram of sealevel positions for the last 700,000 years (based on a new d/sup 18/O stratigraphy here compiled) shows that the present is near the margin of the range of fluctuations, with only 6 percent of positions indicating a warmer climate. Thus, the future will be largely outside of experience with regard to fluctuations of the recent geologic past. The same is true for greenhouse forcing. Our inability to explain sudden climate change in the past, including the rapid rise of carbon dioxide during deglaciation, and differences in ocean productivity between glacial and interglacial conditions, demonstrates a lack of understanding that makes predictions suspect. This is the lesson from ice age studies.