February 23, 2024

Science: Climate report: Researchers warn of tipping points

Sciences Climate report: Researchers warn of tipping points

Going beyond tipping points could have catastrophic consequences for the climate. picture

© Liu Shipping/Xinhua/Dpa

The climate crisis is already taking dramatic proportions. Researchers warn of the possibility of triggering self-reinforcing processes. But there is also reason for hope.

According to experts, current global warming threatens five major natural systems with irreversible disruptions. This is what appears from the “Global Turning Points Report”.

In climate research, tipping points occur when small changes trigger a domino effect, the consequences of which may not be reversible. The concept of tipping points and the uncertainties associated with them are sometimes discussed intensely in the scientific community.

The report was prepared by an international team of more than 200 researchers. It was coordinated by the British University of Exeter and the Bezos Land Fund.

Researchers paint a bleak picture

“Five major transition systems are already at risk of exceeding their tipping points given current global warming,” said the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), which participated in the report. This includes the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets, the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, warm-water coral reefs and some areas of permafrost. “If global warming rises to 1.5°C, three more systems, including boreal forests, mangroves and seagrass meadows, could be at risk of capsizing in the 2030s,” PIK says.

The report’s authors warn that if multiple tipping points are crossed, there is also a risk of a catastrophic loss in the ability to grow staple crops. A statement from the University of Exeter said: “Without urgent action to stop the climate and environmental catastrophe, societies will collapse as nature spirals out of control.”

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Positive turning points could ‘save millions of lives’

Since the previous response from governments around the world is not enough, the researchers offer six recommendations to avoid negative turning points and even initiate positive turning points.

The six recommendations include stopping fossil fuel emissions and land use well before mid-century. In addition, negative consequences for the most affected groups and countries in particular should be mitigated. Concerted efforts are also needed to stimulate positive turning points and raise awareness of turning points.

The expansion of the use of renewable energies and the shift to electric mobility are examples of positive turning points. “A series of positive turning points would save millions of lives, save billions of people from suffering, prevent trillions of dollars in damage, and mark the beginning of restoring the nature on which we all depend,” the university statement said.