Is the climate crisis pushing the world towards a ‘point of no return’? A new study claims we may have already reached a hypothetical ‘point of no return’, but other researchers say this is ‘at odds’ with what we know about climate science. If global greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow, how much warmer would the world get? It’s a question with no simple answer. Even if humans quit polluting the world overnight, scientists say it would take many decades for the Earth’s climate to reach a new equilibrium. This is largely linked to how heat is stored in the world’s oceans, which can, in turn, have an influence on air temperatures. Matters might be complicated further by potential “tipping points” in nature that might be triggered by global warming. For example, rising temperatures are causing permafrost, frozen ground found in high northern latitudes that stores vast amounts of carbon, to thaw out. This thawing causes more carbon to be released into the atmosphere, which, in turn, is adding to rising temperatures. There is a worry that such positive “feedback loops” could ultimately lead to rapid heating, and limiting global warming is important for avoiding such feedbacks.
Independent 12th Nov 2020 read more »