Code Red: The world is on the verge of crossing six catastrophic climate tipping points

Code Red: The world is on the verge of crossing six catastrophic climate tipping points

Current rates of warming will put Earth at risk of crossing six climate-dangerous tipping points, according to a new study published in Science.

Exceeding these thresholds will disrupt the functioning of Earth’s systems and lead to the collapse of ice sheets and the loss of coral reefs.

Scientific commentators have previously said that reaching such a point would be a “climate emergency”.

The researchers analyzed evidence of tipping points from 200 recent publications, at what temperature the tipping points will be reached, what impacts there will be on Earth, over what time frame the impacts will be felt.

The scientists are establishedthat these risks increase with each tenth of a degree of warming.

According to the calculations of Climate Action Tracker even in an optimistic scenario, if current global climate targets are met, the world will warm by 1.8 C on average.

Climate tipping points

The idea of ​​”climate tipping points” was first introduced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to the United Nations two decades ago.

If passed, they could cause a significant change in the way Earth’s systems work, affecting the oceans, weather and chemical processes, which the UN says could be “irreversible”.

Once the tipping point is crossed, the breakdown of the system will be self-sustaining, so scientists say it will continue even if there is no further warming.

An irreversible cascade of consequences

According to a BBC report, until recently it was thought that the tipping point would only be passed if average global temperatures rose by more than 5C. But in recent years, increasing evidence has emerged that these thresholds may be crossed much earlier.

What are the six critical points?

  • Collapse of the Greenland ice sheet.
  • Destruction of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
  • Breakdown of ocean circulation in the polar region of the North Atlantic.
  • Destruction of coral reefs in low latitudes.
  • Precipitous loss of sea ice in the Barents Sea.
  • Sudden thawing of permafrost (ie a thick subsoil layer that remains below freezing throughout the year and occurs mainly in the polar regions) in the northern regions of the planet.

According to the United Nations, Greenland and Antarctica are currently losing ice six times faster than 30 years ago, and Greenland’s ice sheet has been shrinking steadily for the past 25 years due to climate change.

Scientists warn that these six tipping points are just the beginning of a domino of environmental problems the Earth could face if we don’t tackle climate change.