Climate emergency: world 'may have crossed tipping points’ - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15051258
Climate emergency: world 'may have crossed tipping points’

The world may already have crossed a series of climate tipping points, according to a stark warning from scientists. This risk is “an existential threat to civilisation”, they say, meaning “we are in a state of planetary emergency”.

Tipping points are reached when particular impacts of global heating become unstoppable, such as the runaway loss of ice sheets or forests. In the past, extreme heating of 5C was thought necessary to pass tipping points, but the latest evidence suggests this could happen between 1C and 2C.

The planet has already heated by 1C and the temperature is certain to rise further, due to past emissions and because greenhouse gas levels are still rising. The scientists further warn that one tipping point, such as the release of methane from thawing permafrost, may fuel others, leading to a cascade.

The researchers, writing in a commentary article in the journal Nature, acknowledge that the complex science of tipping points means great uncertainty remains. But they say the potential damage from the tipping points is so big and the time to act so short, that “to err on the side of danger is not a responsible option”. They call for urgent international action.

“A saving grace is that the rate at which damage accumulates from tipping could still be under our control to some extent,” they write. “The stability and resilience of our planet is in peril. International action – not just words – must reflect this.”

Prof Tim Lenton at the University of Exeter, the lead author of the article, said: “We might already have crossed the threshold for a cascade of interrelated tipping points. The simple version is the schoolkids [striking for climate action] are right: we are seeing potentially irreversible changes in the climate system under way, or very close.

As a scientist, I just want to tell it how it is,” he said. “It is not trying to be alarmist, but trying to treat the whole climate change problem as a risk management problem. It is what I consider the common sense way.

Phil Williamson at the University of East Anglia, who did not contribute to the article, said: “The prognosis by Tim Lenton and colleagues is, unfortunately, fully plausible: that we might have already lost control of the Earth’s climate.

The new article comes as the UN warns action is very far from stopping global temperature rise, with the world currently on track for 3C-4C. The commentary lists nine tipping points that may have been activated.

“We have this alarming evidence that part of the west Antarctic ice sheet may be in irreversible retreat,” said Lenton. “All the signals are that it is.” A similar situation appears to be occurring at the Wilkes basin in east Antarctica. The collapse of these ice sheets would eventually raise sea level by many metres.

The massive Greenland ice sheet was melting at an accelerating rate, the scientists said, while Arctic sea ice is shrinking fast. “Permafrost across the Arctic is beginning to irreversibly thaw and release carbon dioxide and methane,” they said.

The Gulf Stream current in the Atlantic, which warms Europe, has also slowed by 15% since the mid-20th century. “That is just about in the range of natural variability, but it is also hard to rule out that it is part of a longer downturn,” Lenton said.

The scientists report that 17% of the Amazon rainforest has been lost since 1970. The tipping point, where loss of forest leads to it drying out, could lie in the range 20%-40%, they said. In temperate forests, especially in North America, heating has triggered more fires and pest outbreaks, potentially turning some regions from a sink for carbon to a source. In the tropics, corals are predicted to be wiped out by 2C of heating.

A cascade of tipping points could occur because, for example, the melting of Arctic sea ice amplifies heating by exposing dark ocean that absorbs more sunlight. That may increase the melting of Greenland ice and permafrost areas. “Multiple risks can interact, with one change reinforcing another, and with warming of just a degree or two sufficient to result in dramatic cascading effects,” said Williamson.

Prof Martin Siegert, at Imperial College London, said: “The new work is valuable. They are being a little speculative, but maybe you need to be.” He pointed out that the extremely rapid rate at which CO2 was being pumped into the atmosphere was unlikely to have ever occurred on Earth before. “It may mean that tipping points can occur in unexpected ways as there is no geological precedent for this rate of CO2 change.”

The article reports that preliminary results from the latest climate models suggest global heating will be greater than expected, increasing the risk of tipping points. Prof Piers Forster, at the University of Leeds, disagreed on that point. However, he added: “I completely endorse their call for action. Although possibly low probability, the risks they identify are real.”

Lenton said action would still have real benefits, by slowing the impacts and giving more time for people to adapt. He said: “This article is not meant to be a counsel of despair. If we want to avoid the worst of these bad climate tipping points, we need to activate some positive social and economic tipping points [such as renewable energy] towards what should ultimately be a happier, flourishing, sustainable future for the generations to come.”


When Saigon fell (or was liberated) in April of 1975, I didn't understand why Tran Van Huang volunteered to become president after Thieu had resigned only days before the city fell to the Vietcong. When the Berlin Wall was about to come down, I didn't understand why Egon Krenz wanted to replace Erich Honecker as head of the GDR even though the regime was doomed.

People are so addicted to their lifestyles that they can't imagine it to come to an end even though reason tells them that it can't go on. The same applies to contemporary humans who know that it can't go on, yet are incapable of change. It's as if they were paralyzed like somebody who is facing a cobra can't move. Science and common sense both tell us that man-made climate change is real. What has to happen to wake people up from the lethargy of their denial?

Unlike in Saigon, there won't be any choppers to lift the privileged few off the planet. Long before nature gets us, humans will cause social and political upheavals that are likely to result in fascist police states. Trump is only the beginning.

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#15051269
Atlantis wrote:People are so addicted to their lifestyles that they can't imagine it to come to an end even though reason tells them that it can't go on. The same applies to contemporary humans who know that it can't go on, yet are incapable of change. It's as if they were paralyzed like somebody who is facing a cobra can't move. Science and common sense both tell us that man-made climate change is real. What has to happen to wake people up from the lethargy of their denial?


If the way we live is going to result in mankind dying off 300 years from now, it's difficult for someone to get all shaken up over that, simply because it absolutely does not affect them in any meaningful way...

Unlike in Saigon, there won't be any choppers to lift the privileged few off the planet. Long before nature gets us, humans will cause social and political upheavals that are likely to result in fascist police states. Trump is only the beginning.


You know, you had a decent post until this.

Trump's not to blame for climate change, nor is he turning the country into a fascist police state.

By invoking his name, you turned a mildly interesting post into nothing more than a whiny, unrelenting barrage of ignorance. Maybe if you didn't try to blame everything bad in the world on one man you'd be taken seriously...
#15051298
BigSteve wrote:By invoking his name, you turned a mildly interesting post into nothing more than a whiny, unrelenting barrage of ignorance. Maybe if you didn't try to blame everything bad in the world on one man you'd be taken seriously...


Indeed, I am quite astonished of how Trump is so despised in this forum when either Putin or Xi Jinping seems to be more of the pariah of the world.

Trump may be vocally admiring them but what he does so far is not as supportive. At least not to Xi.
#15051312
Patrickov wrote:Indeed, I am quite astonished of how Trump is so despised in this forum when either Putin or Xi Jinping seems to be more of the pariah of the world.

Trump may be vocally admiring them but what he does so far is not as supportive. At least not to Xi.


There are a lot of of dense non-thinking libs here, who are still butt-hurt over the fact that their would-be queen got her ass handed to her by a reality television star (watch, this is where they start whining about the popular vote).

I can't wait to see the video clips of them again wailing when Trump wins next November...
#15051379
BigSteve wrote:There are a lot of of dense non-thinking libs here, who are still butt-hurt over the fact that their would-be queen got her ass handed to her by a reality television star (watch, this is where they start whining about the popular vote).

I can't wait to see the video clips of them again wailing when Trump wins next November...


I would say nothing can be sure. As an example, just a few days ago, a pro-Beijing Hong Kong Councillor made the grave mistake of bragging himself should be able to be re-elected, and ended up losing quite decisively.

For Trump's case, to be fair, I am rather neutral on popular vote vs. electoral. I understand why the forefathers of the United States introduced this System, and Trump's victory somewhat shows how this System works, but those believing that "every vote should hold equal value in an election for the same office" have every reason to be critical of the electoral system.
#15051417
BigSteve wrote:Trump's not to blame for climate change, ...


As the representative of a wasteful lifestyle and promoter of the fossil fuel economy, he is more to blame than those of us who have chosen a sustainable lifestyle and advocate a green economy.

As the vanguard of climate change deniers, history will blame Trump for the climate change holocaust.

Patrickov wrote:Indeed, I am quite astonished of how Trump is so despised


That is what discredits you and your protests because you are ready to ally with the most reactionary force on the planet and fuck the climate just to further your partisan cause.

The comparison with Xi or Putin is not valid. Political leaders are the product of circumstances and not of their political will. Putin or Xi cannot simply chose to implement a liberal democracy at will. For all we know, they may privately be the most ardent supporters of liberal democracy, yet the circumstances don't allow it. They have to think about the unity of their country first.

Thus, the comparison with Trump who wants to destroy liberal democracy from inside a democratic system is wrong.
#15051418
Atlantis wrote:That is what discredits you and your protests because you are ready to ally with the most reactionary force on the planet and fuck the climate just to further your partisan cause.


While I do not deny that I am quite acceptive the more reactionary ideologies if the situation calls, the above accusation is itself more partisan than what it tries to describe me.

As for climate, three things. One, it is a process so full of momentum that it is a lost cause to me. Two, I am quite a frugal person myself that I have nothing to feel sorry for this Earth. Three, likes of Trump are not going to be exterminated just because I join forces with this Honourable Gentleman and preach for such thing to happen. Rather, if his force has a use then it might be better to as well use it. Just to be sure to curb them when they cease to be useful, and I think with a society like America's it is achievable.

Atlantis wrote:The comparison with Xi or Putin is not valid. Political leaders are the product of circumstances and not of their political will. Putin or Xi cannot simply chose to implement a liberal democracy at will. For all we know, they may privately be the most ardent supporters of liberal democracy, yet the circumstances don't allow it. They have to think about the unity of their country first.


I will agree if it is Hu Jintao in power. He even voluntarily steps down at the end of his term. Had it not been Liu Xiaobo he could be the best leader after Deng Xiaoping.

I also understand the perils faced by Xi, but what he has done so far only intensified the problem.

Putin might be democratic at home but he generally supports regimes who are not.

Finally, how unified a place should be (or several places in this case) depends on the sustainability. China is clearly too big for its situation.

Atlantis wrote:Thus, the comparison with Trump who wants to destroy liberal democracy from inside a democratic system is wrong.


I actually believe in the society and the System more than the person, it's just that a madman like him opened possibilities for more "normal" people.
#15051439
Patrickov wrote:For Trump's case, to be fair, I am rather neutral on popular vote vs. electoral. I understand why the forefathers of the United States introduced this System, and Trump's victory somewhat shows how this System works, but those believing that "every vote should hold equal value in an election for the same office" have every reason to be critical of the electoral system.


The issue is that they didn't bother to whine about it until it didn't work in their favor.

Had they bitched about it ten years ago, their complaints wouldn't be falling on deaf ears now...
#15051441
Atlantis wrote:As the representative of a wasteful lifestyle and promoter of the fossil fuel economy, he is more to blame than those of us who have chosen a sustainable lifestyle and advocate a green economy.


Perhaps, perhaps not. That's not really the issue...

As the vanguard of climate change deniers, history non-thinking liberal whiners will blame Trump for the climate change holocaust.


Fixed that for ya'...
#15051447
Atlantis wrote:People are so addicted to their lifestyles that they can't imagine it to come to an end even though reason tells them that it can't go on.

It's not that difficult to understand. Just imagine life before the internal combustion engine, the steam engine, discovering the Laws of Thermodynamics, etc. If you want to go back to that, you can do that on your own. Yet, you choose not to do that yourself.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Why do some people drive rather than take mass transit? Easy. Mass transit is disgusting. Until we get the criminals, drug addicts, homeless and people urinating and defecating on mass transit out of the system, people would prefer their clean cars to a fouled and diseased mass transit. Yet, we have a political class that thinks public urination and defecation is just a-okay.

Atlantis wrote:What has to happen to wake people up from the lethargy of their denial?

At a minimum, an absolute crushing of left wing social disorder. Oh, and ceasing trade with China. We also need zero taxation on clean energy. We need to give people the absolute right to generate their own clean energy. We need to regulate utilities to force them to buy clean energy from producers--even residential homes.

Atlantis wrote:Long before nature gets us, humans will cause social and political upheavals that are likely to result in fascist police states. Trump is only the beginning.

Right. It's going to take something like fascism, a return to removing human refuse from the streets as wards of the state rather than as prisoners, and so forth.

Patrickov wrote:Indeed, I am quite astonished of how Trump is so despised in this forum when either Putin or Xi Jinping seems to be more of the pariah of the world.

Even Putin is kind of a pussycat compared to Xi Jinping. China is easily the worst polluter.

Atlantis wrote:As the representative of a wasteful lifestyle and promoter of the fossil fuel economy, he is more to blame than those of us who have chosen a sustainable lifestyle and advocate a green economy.

Oh, I forgot to mention--climate change alarmists have to stop flying in private jets and eating expensive foods and get on to mass transit and soylent green if they want other people to take them seriously. Nobody is going to listen to Al Gore yammer on about global warming when he shows up in a private jet when he could have taken coach--and wherever he goes, it pretty much always starts snowing. :roll:

Atlantis wrote:As the vanguard of climate change deniers, history will blame Trump for the climate change holocaust.

History won't exist if humanity collapses. So that point is kind of moot.
#15051476
blackjack21 wrote:Even Putin is kind of a pussycat compared to Xi Jinping. China is easily the worst polluter.


With the world's largest or second (had India not been divided) largest size of population, most of which actually capable of pursuing American lifestyle, this statement is probably one of the most obvious.
#15051484
Actually, the USA has dumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than China. And if we look at it per capita, then I think the USA often shares the top spot with Canada and some oil rich Middle East countries.

But regardless of who is to blame, we are at the point where we know we are causing negative impacts to our habitat, and we do not know if we have made these things too bad to fix.

Any logical person would decide that the time to clean up our act is now.

But we will not.
#15051487
Pants-of-dog wrote:Actually, the USA has dumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than China. And if we look at it per capita, then I think the USA often shares the top spot with Canada and some oil rich Middle East countries.

But regardless of who is to blame, we are at the point where we know we are causing negative impacts to our habitat, and we do not know if we have made these things too bad to fix.

Any logical person would decide that the time to clean up our act is now.

But we will not.

The human race as a whole is not a "logical person"; it's not a person with a will of its own, and it's certainly not logical. Absent a dictatorial world government, it will simply not be possible to do what needs to be done to save our environment - a mass die off of the human species, followed by a sustainable population limited to only about a billion people at the most. For obvious reasons, that won't be done. Every animal species in the world would have done what we are now doing - consume as much as possible and have as many offspring as possible until we have filled the world with our kind. This is what we happen, until the whole antheap collapses around our ears. And then we will start the whole thing over again....
#15051488
@Potemkin

But the problem is not overpopulation. We are not causing tipping points by eating and breeding too much.

The majority of the problem is caused by a few companies who continue to emit greenhouse gases and have the economic clout to keep governments on their side.

We have had the technology to switch over to fossil fuel alternatives since the 1970s or so. So, we could maintain our current population and be emitting far less.
#15051490
Pants-of-dog wrote:@Potemkin

But the problem is not overpopulation. We are not causing tipping points by eating and breeding too much.

The majority of the problem is caused by a few companies who continue to emit greenhouse gases and have the economic clout to keep governments on their side.

We have had the technology to switch over to fossil fuel alternatives since the 1970s or so. So, we could maintain our current population and be emitting far less.

No, the problem is overpopulation. There are simply too many of us. Human populations have reached plague proportions. Planet Earth has a bad case of "human infestation". Lol.
#15051491
Potemkin wrote:
No, the problem is overpopulation. There are simply too many of us. Human populations have reached plague proportions. Planet Earth has a bad case of "human infestation".



The problem is carbon emissions.

And that we can do a lot about.

I have no problem with reducing the population, you just need to come up with a way to do that. Without nuclear weapons, of course.
#15051494
So far, the best way of reducing population peacefully is to improve the standard of living.

If everyone in the world had a decent standard of living, we would see birth rates drop dramatically, and probably see a drop in population after that.

So the question becomes: how do we do that without making everyone in the world a huge producer of pollution, like we currently see in the developed countries?

And of course, the answer is to invest in those technologies we already have and get them distributed, and get off fossil fuels.

Yup. And hardly news, huh...

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