This chapter will survey a few of the major questions raised by observed features of present and past Earth and planetary climate. Some of these questions have been answered to one extent or another, but many remain largely unresolved. This will not be a comprehensive synopsis of Earth and planetary climate evolution; we will be content to point out a few striking facts about climate that demand a physical explanation. Then, in subsequent chapters, we'll develop the physics necessary to think about these problems. Although we hope not to be too Earth-centric in this book, in the present chapter we will perforce talk at greater length about Earth's climate than about those of other planets, because so much more is known about Earth's past climate than is known about the past climates of other planets. A careful study of Earth history suggests generalities that may apply to other planets, and also raises interesting questions about how things might have happened differently elsewhere, and it is with this goal in mind that we begin our journey.

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