Climate Change Driving Entire Planet to Dangerous Tipping Point

Shaney Guadalupe

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Scientists “don’t think people realize how little time we have left,” to stop irreversible and disastrous changes to Earth climate system. But there is hope. Evidence that irreversible changes in Earth’s climate system are underway means we are in a state of planetary emergency, leading climate scientist warn. A cascade of tipping point could amount to a global tipping point, where multiple earths system march past the point of no return, they say. That possibility is “an existential threat to civilization,” write Tim Lenton and colleagues in this week’s Nature. Such a collapse of Earth systems could lead to “hothouse earth” conditions with global temperatures rise of 5 degrees C, sea levels rising 6 to nine meters, the complete loss of the Worlds coral reefs and the Amazon forest, and with the large parts of the planet inhabitable. A global emergency response is required response required to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, they warn. “The stability and resilience of our planet is in peril,” they say. “It’s a nasty shock that tipping points we thought might happen well into the future are already underway,” says Lenton in an interview. For example, the slow collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet appears to be in progress. The latest data show that the same thing might be happening to part of the East Antarctic  ice sheet, says Lenton, a climate scientist at University of Exeter in Southwest England. If those both melted, they could raise sea levels 7 meters over the next few hundreds years. “Exeter, where I am, was founded by the Romans 1,900 years ago. It will probably be under water 1,500 years from now,” he says. “We shouldn’t be discounting the legacy we’re leaving to future generations, no matter how far they are in the future.” The West and East Antarctic ice sheets are just two of nine tipping points- or giants of the climate system- that show clear signs they are reaching a point of no return.Declaring a planetary climate emergency its important to know that global temperatures aren’t driven by human emission of carbon alone, says the report’s co-author Katherine Richardson, a professor of biological oceanography at the University of Copenhagen. The Earth’s natural systems such as forests, polar regions, and oceans also play major roles . We have to pay attention to them. It’s already too late to prevent some tipping point from happening, since there is evidence that at least nine have already been breached” she said. The risk of this cascading into an irreversible global tipping point with tremendous impacts on human civilization warrants a declaration of planetary climate emergency. Minimizing the risk requires keeping global warming as close tp 1.5 degrees C as possible reducing carbon emission to zero. It will take at least 30 years to achieve carbon neutrality, Richardson says.