The Tipping Point

Scientists use the term tipping point in to describe the process by which we change from one type of climate to another. The comparison is to a boat – if you push it too much, and how much is too much depends on variables like waves and such – the boat tips over. If a system has large hysteresis, it will not readily switch back when should conditions revert to an earlier state, just like a rowboat needs a very large push to return to its original upright state.

An article in the Independent claims that we have already reached another tipping point in climate change, that four years of data show Arctic warming is moving Arctic climate to another state, one with much less freezing, that this will lead to inevitable melting of Greenland ice and the raising of sea level by several meters.

This particular report may or may not be true. I haven’t yet seen it in Science magazine or other formats scientists use to communicate what they are seeing, the Independent is not one of these formats. But even if this particular report is not true, it is how we will hear the information eventually: that several years of data show a change that became inevitable years or even decades or even many decades before. We will be hearing very old news, environmental harm that we are years too late to prevent.

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