Earth is on the verge of five catastrophic climate tipping points

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Earth is on the verge of five catastrophic climate tipping points

The world is about to suffer five “tipping points” very serious because of the current level of warming. Moreover, if the objective of the Paris agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C fails, other tipping points will occur. However, according to the authors of this new study published in Science, it’s not too late to change direction.

Climate change

These tipping points are thresholds that, once exceeded, cause a rapid, uncontrollable, and often irreversible transformation in the state of a climate system. These changes are self-sustaining, i.e. even if the warming stops, the resulting change will continue to evolve.

Early assessments predicted that these thresholds will be reached within a range of 3 to 5°C of warming. However, according to other climatic observations, these thresholds would be much lower.

5 major tipping points close

The new document is a synthesis of more than 200 studies identifying the appearance of new tipping points. It highlighted nine tipping elements “fundamentals” global, influencing the functioning of the planetary system. It also recognizes seven other regional tipping points, contributing to human well-being.

Current temperatures could cause five tipping points among these 16. These are the collapse of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, the violent and widespread thawing of permafrost, the collapse of convection in the Labrador Sea and the mass disappearance of tropical coral reefs.

With the current level of warming, there is a good chance that five of these points will occur. And a warming of 1.5°C would likely trigger four more events.

It’s not too late to avoid this tragedy

According to David Armstrong McKay, first author of the study, it is not certain that the planet undergoes disastrous consequences with a warming of 1.5°C. The most serious effects would only occur if this temperature level were maintained for about half a century. Therefore, these 1.5°C tipping points would not increase global warming as much as a feedback.

It is therefore not yet too late for man to control global warming. For this he should reduce its carbon dioxide emissions as quickly as possible. According to lead author Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter, what gave him hope was the idea that human society could have its own tipping points “positive”. Years of incremental change will be followed by urgent and widespread action.


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