A new study finds that rising temperatures fueled by continuous human emissions are causing major Earth systems from the Amazon rainforest to the Arctic ice sheet to collapse ever more.
The Paper published in Science on Thursday He found that increasing temperatures make it more likely than ever that Earth will pass more than a dozen major “tipping points”, thresholds beyond which Earth’s systems break down or become unrecognizable.
“The world is heading towards 2-3°C of global warming,” co-author Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said in a statement.
He added that such heating would set “the Earth on course to cross multiple dangerous tipping points that would be disastrous for people around the world.”
Burning fossil fuels accounts for about 92 percent of human-caused emissions in the United States, according to Energy Information Management. Biden administration have a commitment To put the United States on the road To cut greenhouse gas emissions 50 per cent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.
The risk to the climate landscape worsens dramatically above 1.5°C of warming – the limit agreed by the world’s governments in the 2015 Paris Agreements. Scientists stressed that even 1.5°C is not necessarily enough to avoid these climate tipping points.
Every piece of the emissions-cutting puzzle matters, Rockstrom said.
We must do everything we can to prevent tipping points being crossed. “Every tenth of a degree counts,” said Rockstrom.
In today’s temperatures, five of the 16 serious hazards on their list are already possible, including the collapse of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets; the collapse of the oxygen-giving oceanic circulation in the Labrador Sea; The massive death of coral reefs and the sudden thawing of methane-containing permafrost.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that has a heating power tens of times greater than carbon dioxide Makes Melting permafrost is a particular concern That can lead to overheating, the Smithsonian reported.
Permafrost peatlands in Europe and Siberia On track to collapse by 2040found Nature Climate Change – making it just one of the tipping point scenarios already underway.
Other research published this week raises the alarming possibility that other tipping points explained by the Potsdam team may loom.
For example, the Thwaites Glacier – a core piece of the West Antarctic ice shelf – is on the verge of collapse, According to a study published in the journal Nature on Monday.
Last weekend, Greenland saw melting across 35 percent of its surface — for the first time in September, according to the National Snow and Snow Data Center.
About 10 inches of sea level rise has been “baked” by melting Greenland Regardless of emissions cutsaccording to Nature Climate Change.
The Potsdam team found that further warming would shift these tipping points from possible to “potential” — and open the door to worse perturbations, such as the collapse of the monsoons in West Africa or the Amazon rainforest.
Amazon He is also in the midst of a “tipping point crisis,” According to a report released this week by Amazon Watch, a team of Amazon and global scientists. The group found that more than a quarter of the region is already in the process of transition.
Climate pressure on tropical landscapes like the Amazon is getting worse due to rampant deforestation for agriculture. which accounts for up to 99 percent of forest lossAccording to a study in the journal Science published Thursday.
“Many shift elements in the Earth system are interconnected, making successive tipping points a serious additional concern,” said Ricarda Winkelmann of Potsdam, one of the authors of the critical points study, in a statement.
“Indeed, the interactions can lower critical temperature thresholds beyond which individual inversion components begin to destabilize over the long term,” Winkelmann added.
This makes governance and law enforcement in the Amazon and other tropical countries – as well as in polluting countries that are beginning to adopt climate measures – an issue of global concern.
“Strengthening forest management and land use in producing countries should be the ultimate goal of any policy response,” said Toby Gardner of the Stockholm Environment Institute, a co-author on the Tropical Deforestation paper.
“Supply chain and demand-side actions must be designed in a way that also addresses the primary and indirect ways in which agriculture is linked to deforestation,” Gardner added.