Item Link: Access the Resource
Media Type: News / Op - Ed
Publication Info: Nature
Date of Publication: 27 November, 2019
Author(s): Timothy M. Lenton, Johan Rockström, Owen Gaffney, Stefan Rahmstorf, Katherine Richardson, Will Steffen, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions.
Politicians, economists and even some natural scientists have tended to assume that tipping points 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 changes.
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.