6 - EARTH'S WARNING SIGNS

Bibek Roy

6 -Earth's Warning Signs: The Tipping Points That Could Change Everything!"

With global warming now hovering around 1.2°C above the pre-industrial level (1850-1900), humanity is facing some of the major changes in our Earth system:

  • The great Amazon rainforest is going through droughts.
  • Some parts of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are melting away. And this can be irreversible process.
  • Coral reef die-off events are occurring in larger way.

 One great saying is “The world is not behaving like a linear fashion, instead, our expectations of smooth, predictable and reversible changes are being confronted with a reality of abrupt, unexpected and irreversible ones”.

The pace and scale of the above events (But not limited to the events) has strong relation to the term ‘Tipping Points” – originally popularised by Malcolm Gladwell.

In recent days of climate change and global warming, the term ‘Tipping point” is getting prominence.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), tipping points are ‘critical thresholds in a system that, when exceeded, can lead to a significant change in the state of the system, often with an understanding that the change is irreversible.

In this context, we will discuss today SIX MAJOR TIPPING POINTS those are posing huge concern:

Climate change, fuelled by human activities, is pushing the Earth's systems to critical thresholds known as tipping points.

Crossing these thresholds could trigger cascading and often irreversible changes, posing huge challenges to ecosystems and humanity.

Melting Ice Sheets (1):

The polar ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland contain huge volumes of frozen water. As global temperatures rise, these ice sheets are melting at an accelerating pace.

If a critical point is crossed, it could result in the unstoppable collapse of ice sheets causing a rapid increase in sea levels, threatening flooding of coastal cities and low-lying regions worldwide.

It can be irreversible!! And 1.5 Deg C increase in global temperature from pre-industrial level, can be the threshold.

Amazon Rainforest Degradation (2):

The Amazon rainforest is known as the largest rainforest in the world. The Amazon rainforest covers an area of over 3.8 million square kilometres on the Earth.

The Amazon rainforest, often referred to as the "lungs of the Earth," is under increasing stress from deforestation and climate change.

Amazon rain forest has gone through THREE severe draughts from 2010 to 2020. This has caused a large part of the carbon sink (Forest) vanished.

Reason? DRY SEASON.

Beyond a tipping point, the rainforest may transition from a vibrant, biodiverse ecosystem to a drier, savanna-like state.

This could release vast amounts of stored carbon, aggravating global warming and jeopardizing one of the planet's vital carbon sinks.

 Thawing Permafrost (3):

Permafrost is the permanently frozen soil in the Arctic, holds immense quantities of organic matter. As temperatures rise, permafrost begins to thaw (Changing state from solid to liquid), releasing methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

This basically creates a feedback loop, as more methane accelerates warming, further thawing permafrost and releasing additional greenhouse gases. Finally, this can be IRREVERSIBLE!!

Monsoon(4):

Monsoon system is getting disrupted due to higher global warming.

Most effected sections are farmers, no doubt.

This is affecting global food supply more complicated.

Additionally, this is one of the major reasons for Amazon rain forest depletion.

 Disruption of Ocean Circulation (AMOC)-(5):

The ocean's currents play a crucial role in regulating the Earth's climate.

As polar ice melts and freshwater input increases, disruptions to ocean circulation patterns become a concern.

It is like a global conveyor belt.

Some calculations have shown that AMOC has already weakened by approx. 15% in last 50 years.

If AMOC is coming to a halt, the sea levels can rise dangerously up to 20 to 30 cm. A potential tipping point involves the weakening or collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which could have far-reaching effects on global weather patterns.

Loss of Arctic Sea Ice (6):

Arctic sea ice acts as a reflective surface that helps regulate the Earth's temperature by bouncing sunlight back into space.

 As ice melts, darker ocean water absorbs more heat, accelerating warming.

A tipping point in Arctic Sea ice loss means a rapid and irreversible changes, affecting weather patterns and the livelihoods of Arctic communities.

However, it has been already mentioned in many reports that the Arctic ice sheet melting has come close to tipping point!!

What is the solution or mitigation process?

These tipping points underscore the urgency of ambitious climate action.

Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, preserving ecosystems, and adapting to inevitable changes are imperative.

The global community must collaborate to prevent these tipping points from being crossed, understanding the fact that the consequences will extend beyond national borders.

The immediate need is a collective commitment for sustainable economic activities, resource conservation, and innovation in all spheres to reduce fossil fuel burning to ZERO.

The choices we make today will determine the fate of these critical Earth systems and our next generations to come.

I take this opportunity to invite you to comment on how can we avoid the tipping points?

Also, how can we device an early warning system, well before the tipping points are reached.

Hi, I am Bibek Roy, an Energy & Power professional since past 37 years plus and certified Emotional Intelligence coach from Dr. Daniel Goleman!!

(Source Climate at a glance)


Bibek Roy
An experienced power plant professional having more than 34 years of experience in India & abroad. Certified Lead auditor for QMS, EHSMS. Certifed Energy auditor from BEE. A trainer, coach and auditor. An evangelist for sustainability.

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3 comments on “6 - EARTH'S WARNING SIGNS”

  1. This is the threatening concern over the earth. Manufacturing, Erection and commissioning of thermal Power Plants is already stopped since 2014. But demand of elecricity always increasing on the earth. Some suggestions to minimise energy usage are as follows:
    1. Production of New Cars should be limited.
    2. Production of all luxury items should also be minimised.
    3. Dense populated countries should take action to control population. etc.

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