Climate Tipping Points

Nature Magazine

‘Climate Emergency Now’


EMERGENCY MATH

“We define emergency (E) as the product of risk and urgency. Risk (R) is defined by insurers as probability (p) multiplied by damage (D). Urgency (U) is defined in emergency situations as reaction time to an alert (τ) divided by the intervention time left to avoid a bad outcome (T). Thus:

E = R × U = p × D × τ / T

“The situation is an emergency if both risk and urgency are high. If reaction time is longer than the intervention time left (τ/T> 1), we have lost control.


“Politicians, economists and even some natural scientists have tended to assume that tipping points1 in the Earth system — such as the loss of the Amazon rainforest or the West Antarctic ice sheet — are of low probability and little understood.  Yet evidence is mounting that these events could be more likely than was thought, have high impacts and are interconnected across different biophysical systems, potentially committing the world to long-term irreversible changesN.

“Here we summarize evidence on the threat of exceeding tipping points, identify knowledge gaps and suggest how these should be plugged. We explore the effects of such large-scale changes, how quickly they might unfold and whether we still have any control over them.

“In our view, the consideration of tipping points helps to define that we are in a CLIMATE EMERGENCY and strengthens this year’s chorus of calls for urgent climate action — from schoolchildren to scientists, cities and countries.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) introduced the idea of tipping points two decades ago. At that time, these ‘large-scale discontinuities’ in the climate system were considered likely only if global warming exceeded 5 °C above pre-industrial levels. Information summarized in the two most recent IPCC Special Reports (published in 2018 and in September this year)2,3 suggests that tipping points could be exceeded even between 1 and 2 °C of warming (see ‘Too close for comfort’).”


We provide the PDF Link to the Article in Nature, but do not try to make the whole article ours.  It own mind if you like and want to support the award-winning journalism behind it, like we do. Of course, we do not or could support all the points made in any article we highlight, but that is part of living in a democracy.  We believe the material is relevant to all and is necessary for their personal judgments.


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