Climate tipping points may be triggered very soon

Washington DC - Four tipping points for the global climate could be reached as early as 2030, according to a new report by climate researchers published in the journal Science on Friday, leading to "dangerous impacts" for our planet.

The Earth's ice sheets, like those in Greenland (pictured), may continue melting even if the planet's temperature does not increase any further, the report warns.
The Earth's ice sheets, like those in Greenland (pictured), may continue melting even if the planet's temperature does not increase any further, the report warns.  © REUTERS

As a new study says, the Earth is "getting tipsy" – and not in a fun way.

The report reviewed over 200 studies published since 2008 to create an updated climate tipping point model.

The researchers argue that when global warming reaches an average of 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels, four tipping points will be reached that mean the melting of the Greenlandic and West Antarctic ice sheets, the death of coral reefs in the tropics, and the thawing of permafrost worldwide.

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"These changes may lead to abrupt, irreversible, and dangerous impacts with serious implications for humanity," the report says. "This finding provides a compelling reason to limit additional warming as much as possible."

Scientists have long warned of the impacts of a 1.5 Celsius rise in the Earth's temperature. Based on recent trends, the study's researchers predict the threshold could be reached as early as 2030.

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Reaching the tipping points could lead to a dynamic that causes the Earth's ice sheets to continue melting even if the planet's temperature does not increase any further, the report warns.

If all the measures currently planned by politicians were implemented, the global temperature could be limited to an increase of 1.95 degrees by 2100. However, measures introduced so far would only limit warming to 2.6 degrees.

"This sets Earth on course to cross multiple dangerous tipping points that will be disastrous for people across the world," according to Johan Rockström of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, one of the report's co-authors.

"Our new work provides compelling evidence that the world must radically accelerate decarbonizing the economy to limit the risk of crossing climate tipping points," Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter, another co-author of the report, said in a statement.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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