Scientists Warn Of Multiple Tipping Points In Climate Change

A new scientific report has warned that the continued warming of the planet could trigger not only the collapse of the Greenland ice sheet, the single largest contributor to global sea levels rising, but also multiple environmental “tipping points” that will be irreversible.

Embed from Getty Images

In a new scientific report by Global Tipping Points from more than 200 researchers, planet Earth has experienced multiple environmental tipping points of irreversible damage due to climate change and humanity’s lack of action to reverse global warming.

One of the biggest tipping points finds that the continued warming of the planet could trigger the collapse of the Greenland ice sheet. The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet is the single largest contributor to global sea-levels rising. Once these “tipping points” are crossed, it could lead to irreversible and unstoppable environmental consequences. 

Humanities actions have never been more important when it comes to improving the planet and reversing the already extreme damage that’s been done to the Earth. The biggest recommendation from the report is to phase out greenhouse gas emissions and the burning of fossil fuels. According to Politico, “countries have agreed to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, or as close to that target as possible — a goal that requires global emissions to reach net zero by 2050.”

“This report is the most comprehensive review to date on tipping points in the Earth System,” said Sina Loriani, one of the report’s lead authors, in a statement. 

“Crossing these thresholds may trigger fundamental and sometimes abrupt changes that could irreversibly determine the fate of essential parts of our Earth system for the coming hundreds or thousands of years.”

Greenland is a major concern. Its melting ice sheet is the largest contributor to global sea levels rising, and scientists claim it could take as little as 1.5 degrees of global warming above pre industrial levels to push the ice sheet over the edge. Temperatures have already risen between 1.1 and 1.3 degrees. 

The report also stated that 1.5 degrees of warming would lead to unstoppable ice loss in West Antarctica, “rampant thawing of permafrost; widespread coral die-offs; and the collapse of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, a circular ocean current that helps distribute heat through parts of the Northern Hemisphere.”

While these widespread effects would take hundreds or even thousands of years to fully occur, passing the tipping points would guarantee a future of environmental collapse. Manjana Milkoreit, one of the report’s lead authors stated that we could reverse some of the damage, but it has to be a main priority for the world’s powers. 

Embed from Getty Images

“Averting this crisis — and doing so equitably — must be the core goal of COP28 [the U.N. climate conference] and ongoing global cooperation. Good global governance can make this happen, especially by triggering positive tipping points.”

Embed from Getty Images

The report itself has analyzed 26 tipping points across the planet involving ice sheets, glaciers, forests, grasslands, ocean currents, monsoons, and tropical clouds. Most of these tipping points will have dire consequences for humanity if they’re activated.

Politico reported that “for most of the 26 tipping points, it’s uncertain exactly how much warming it would take to trigger them. Several could be imminent once the planet warms by 1.5 degrees, while others are likely more distant possibilities. 

If one tipping point is triggered, the report warns, others could follow. Many of these Earth systems are closely linked, capable of destabilizing one another as they crumble.”

The world’s powers need to eliminate emissions from fossil fuels, and strengthen global infrastructure to adapt to the damages that have already been caused by climate change. 

The report also recommends that “world leaders coordinate policy efforts that trigger positive tipping points in society — or low-carbon transitions that become unstoppable once given a big enough nudge. That could include, for example, widespread transitions to renewable energy sources and electric vehicles.”

“Nations should also invest more resources into the scientific research on the Earth’s tipping points, and world leaders should organize a global summit devoted to the subject to share knowledge and manage the risks,” the report added.