GENERICO.ruScienceFive catastrophic climate crises threatening the Earth have been named

Five catastrophic climate crises threatening the Earth have been named

“Humanity has never faced threats of this magnitude.”

Scientists warn that the Earth is on the verge of five catastrophic climate crises. Many of humanity's greatest threats are predicted to approach as carbon dioxide pollution heats the planet to increasingly dangerous levels, researchers say.

According to a report by Global Tipping Points, five important natural thresholds are already at risk of being crossed, and three more could be reached in the 2030s if global temperatures rise 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, writes The Guardian.

The triggering of these planetary shifts will not cause temperatures to spiral out of control in the coming centuries, but they will cause dangerous and widespread damage to people and nature that cannot be reversed.

“Tipping points in the Earth system are creating threats on a scale that humanity has never faced before,” says Tim Lenton of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter. “They can cause a devastating domino effect, including the loss of entire ecosystems and the ability to grow staple crops, with consequences for society including mass population displacement, political instability and financial collapse.”

Tipping points at risk include the destruction of large ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica, widespread thawing of permafrost, the death of coral reefs in warm waters and disruption of atmospheric circulation in the North Atlantic.

Unlike other climate changes, such as hotter periods and heavier rainfall, these systems do not change slowly in response to greenhouse gas emissions, but can instead shift from one state to another entirely. When the climate system fails – sometimes with a sudden shock – it can change the way the planet functions forever, explains The Guardian.

Scientists warn there is great uncertainty about when such systems will change, but the report says three more factors could soon join the list. These include mangroves and seagrass meadows, which are expected to die out in some regions if temperatures rise between 1.5°C and 2°C, and boreal forests, where temperatures could drop as much as 1.4°C. °C or even 5°C later.

The warning came as world leaders gathered for the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai. On Tuesday, Climate Action Tracker estimated that their 2030 emissions targets would see the planet warming by 2.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, despite pledges by countries at a previous summit to try to limit them to 1.5 degrees Celsius .

The Tipping Point report, written by an international team of 200 researchers and funded by the Bezos Earth Foundation, is the latest in a series of warnings about the most extreme impacts of climate change.

Scientists warn that some of the shifts could create feedback loops that further warm the planet or change weather patterns in ways that trigger other tipping points.

The researchers said the systems were so tightly coupled that they could not rule out “tipping cascades.” For example, if the Greenland Ice Sheet were to break up, it could cause a dramatic change in the meridional circulation of the Atlantic Ocean, an important current that delivers much of its heat to the Gulf Stream. This, in turn, could strengthen the El Niño Southern Oscillation, one of the most powerful weather phenomena on the planet.

Co-author Sina Loriani, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said tipping point risks could be catastrophic and should be taken very seriously despite remaining uncertainty: “Beating these thresholds could trigger fundamental and sometimes abrupt changes that could be irreversible.” determine the fate of critical parts of our Earth system over the next hundreds or thousands of years.”

In its latest review of the science of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the thresholds are unclear, but the likelihood of hazards will increase as the planet warms.

The review said: “Risks associated with large-scale single events or tipping points, such as ice instability or tropical forest ecosystem loss, move to high risk between 1.5°C and 2.5°C and to very high risk between 2.5°C and 4°C.”

The report also looked at so-called “positive inflection points,” such as the sharp drop in renewable energy prices and rising sales of electric vehicles. It found that such shifts do not happen on their own, but must be achieved through stimulating innovation, shaping markets, regulating business, and educating and mobilizing the public.

Research conducted by report co-author Manjana Milkorate last year , warned against overusing the label of social tipping points by promising solutions that do not exist at scale or are beyond control. “While scholarships benefit from hope, we must be cautious in promoting social tipping points as potential solutions to temporary challenges posed by climate change,” she wrote.


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