A study of Earth’s climate history suggests the inevitability of “tipping points”— thresholds beyond which major and rapid changes occur when crossed—that lead to abrupt changes in the climate system.
The history of climate on the planet—as read in archives such as tree rings, ocean sediments, and ice cores—is punctuated with large changes that occurred rapidly, over the course of decades to as little as a few years.
There are many potential tipping points in nature, as described in this report, and many more that we humans create in our own systems. The current rate of carbon emissions is changing the climate system at an accelerating pace, making the chances of crossing tipping points all the more likely.
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