A tipping point is a critical threshold at which a small change can significantly alter the state of a whole system. According to the UN Environmental Program Year Book 2009, and a World Bank report, our planet is quickly approaching tipping points which will cause drastic climate changes within the next few years.
In a study published by NASA and Columbia University Earth Institute in 2007, lead author and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director, Dr. James Hansen, urges the need to reduce emissions to avoid “disastrous effects” of global warming which could push Earth past tipping points. The catastrophic consequences of this would be complete disruption to infrastructures, water and food shortages, changes in weather patterns, destabilization of main ice sheets and millions of climate refugees.
Many of the irreversible effects on plants, animals, farming and the weather are already visible, but one of the greatest dangers is lie in the collapse of the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets. These hold 20% of the world’s fresh water. If either collapses, sea levels would rise by 20 feet, causing unimaginable damage and loss of life. Once tipping points are passed there is no way to reverse the situation.