A study published in Science this week draws some alarming conclusions about where we are in our battle with the climate crisis. The scientists say that they have defined “tipping points” for certain environmental conditions.
These “tipping points” once reached, will trigger an irreversible change for the planet and those who inhabit it.
There are 16 of these tipping points which have been defined and each of them is thought to be triggered by a specific rise in global temperature.
1.5 Degrees Is The Magic Number?
The report in Science was entitled, “Exceeding 1.5 degrees C of global warming could trigger multiple climate tipping points.”
In the report, they assert that some tipping points may already have been reached, this is in concurrence with an analysis which was released in 2021. This noted that some ice sheets have begun to collapse and will, no matter what we do now, eventually contribute to rising sea levels.
The western Antarctic sheet alone is expected to cause rising sea levels of 4 meters! However, it’s worth noting that scientists proclaimed this sheet past its tipping point 8 years ago, and until now, the sheet remains and sea levels have not risen by any dramatic level.
The new report also indicates that Greenland’s ice cap will collapse and again, raise the sea level. It notes that permafrost in carbon-rich regions is also expected to thaw and release their carbon. This will further drive climate change.
And that a key current in the North Atlantic will collapse and potentially interfere with rains that billions of people depend on to grow their food.
The authors say that these tipping points were passed at around 1.2 degrees C temperature rise and cannot be undone.
They say that of the remaining 11, another 5 would be reached at 1.5 degrees and the final 6 at 2 degrees. This might be of some comfort, except one of the study’s leaders, Professor Johan Rockstrom says; “The world is heading towards global warming of 2-3 degrees!”
He insists that if humanity wants to continue to live on this planet, that we need to take immediate action to avoid triggering any further tipping points.
Some Cause For Hope?
One of the biggest drivers of climate change skepticism is the doom and gloom of the climate change industry.
There is no doubt in our minds that climate change is real and that much of this is caused by man made efforts.
However, a careful study of this report notes that the scientists have simply defined passing a tipping point as “possible” or “likely”. This isn’t quite the same thing as stating “a tipping has passed”.
In fact, the conclusion of the study published this week is to call for further research into the tipping points to make better assessment of the critical warming levels for each.
It is worth noting that, for example, in the 1950s, it was predicted that climate change would cause an ice age in the 1970s and that by the year 2000 many of the world’s capital cities were expected to drown due to rising sea levels (this has now been revised to 2050).
This doesn’t mean that we should take reports such as these lightly, but that we should remember that there is always hope and that our best knowledge and understanding of the situation today can change tomorrow.
We leave you with a final thought on the tipping points from Professor Tim Lenton at the University of Exeter who worked on the study and he asserts that all is not lost.
He believes that if we decarbonize our economies we may be able to trigger “positive tipping points” to counterbalance the negative ones.
Here at Whole People we believe that this is the best way forward for the planet and the people on it.