You may ask yourself: “What is a tipping point?” There are so-called tipping elements all around our planet and each one has a certain tipping point. These tipping points are thresholds that, once crossed, push a system into an entirely new state. Sometimes only mere changes are needed. In the past decades rising CO2 levels have been persistently warming up the climate and affecting tipping elements, as well as tipping points. Tipping elements are all directly or indirectly linked to each other. Passing one of their critical values may fuel others and lead to a cascade. 1 Exceeding a tipping point could trigger a self-reinforcing process and cause irreversible damage. 2
Tipping points can be caused by natural fluctuations. But man-made greenhouse gas levels keep on rising and the climate has already heated by 1°C. So they may occur in unexpected ways, more promptly and with graver consequences. As they hold the power to alter our planet there is no doubt about the urgency of taking immediate international action and keeping global temperatures as low as possible. 3
Explore the following nine tipping points in detail and gain insight into why they hold such great significance.
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