Earth Day 2021: Climate change ‘tipping points’ might not be the end of the world after all, report says

Gradual pace of environmental decline could give us more time to avert disaster in rare glimmer of hope amid state of emergency, reports Joe Sommerlad

Wednesday 21 April 2021 23:48
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The southern face of the disappearing Schneeferner glacier near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
The southern face of the disappearing Schneeferner glacier near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
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atastrophic events considered climate change “tipping points” like the melting of the polar ice caps or the dieback of the Amazon rainforest can still be averted if world governments act quickly enough to stop global warming, new research indicates.

A study published in the academic journal Nature concludes that these thresholds, long regarded as points of no return, could in fact only be “temporarily exceeded” without prompting permanent shifts as more gradual declines grant us more time to arrest their progress.

Researchers from the University of Exeter and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) argue the time available to act against such disasters depends on the extent of global heating and the timescale involved in each individual tipping point event, a rare glimmer of hope amid the doomsaying, pessimism and resignation that surrounds the climate emergency.

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