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The Tipping Point and its Effects - a Global Climate Change Warming Point of No Return

Arguments about Climate Change Take Away from the Seriousness

While arguments continue to rage about the why's, who's and how's of climate change and global warming, there is something far more sinister happening to our climate that has been stuck on the back burner for the most part : It's called the Tipping Point. The Tipping Point is a place that our climate can get to that is well - basically irreversible. It's a point that is pretty much described by it's name - a point where the scale "tips" in a direction and points us in a different direction.

Definition of "The Tipping Point" From Wikipedia:

Tipping points are "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable." Gladwell defines a tipping point as a sociological term, "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point."

This "tipping point" in our climate is a point that can cause what's called "abrupt climate change".

Arctic Sea ice may be GONE in 3 years

Recent Satellite photos of the Arctic from 2012 with a comparison

Recent Satellite photos of the Arctic from 2012 with a comparison

 Arctic sea-ice in September 1979 and 2007, showing the biggest reduction since satellite surveillance began.  Photo: Fugro NPA Ltd

Arctic sea-ice in September 1979 and 2007, showing the biggest reduction since satellite surveillance began. Photo: Fugro NPA Ltd

The Definition of "Abrupt Climate Change"

Abrupt climate change from Wikipedia:

Abrupt climate change refers to an event where large and widespread shift in climate occurs within a short period, perhaps a decade. The phrase was coined because of worldwide, centuries-long events seen in ice cores of past climate. There are also abrupt climate changes with sudden onset and gradual recovery, such as the 8.2 kiloyear event associated with a meltwater pulse into the Labrador Sea.

The best current theory for the cause of abrupt climate change is the slowing of the ocean's thermohaline circulation (THC).

Other, comparatively small events, such as the Little Ice Age, might also be placed in a category of rapid climate change.

Abrupt Climate Change

Abrupt climate change can happen when the tipping point occurs - our climate can change radically and swiftly by Earth's standards and well....pretty much wreak havoc (remember the dinosaur extinction? There is a theory that their extinction was caused by an abrupt and devastating climate change)

Now for us, I'm not saying we are going the way of the dinosaurs, but recent studies are indicating that global warming is happening at an accelerated rate - a rate so fast that in fact last years report on climate change is being considered "outdated". This is pretty scary stuff folks, because if all the Arctic ice melts in 5 years it will cause untold changes to our earth, and life as we know it will change drastically.

Can it be reversed? Well the bright side of the story is that we are not dinosaurs and we recognize this coming, so yes perhaps there is something we can do to at least SLOW down the process, or maybe come up with new unthought of process to change the direction the warming will go (there are scientists working on various scenarios and projects to do with abrupt climate change and the tipping point and its effects)

The First Tipping Point Reached?


The first 'tipping point' may have already been reached in the Arctic, where sea ice is disappearing up to 30 years ahead of predictions and may be gone completely within five years - something that HASN'T OCCURRED FOR A MILLION YEARS. It could result in rapid and abrupt climate change rather than the gradual changes forecast by the IPCC. Natural carbon sinks, such as forests and oceans, are losing their ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere faster than expected. Rising temperatures have already led to a major reduction in food crops resulting in losses of 40m tonnes of grain per year. Marine ecosystems in the North and Baltic Sea are being exposed to THE WARMEST TEMPERATURES MEASURED SINCE RECORDS BEGAN. "It is clear that climate change is already having a greater impact than most scientists had anticipated, so it's vital that international mitigation and adaptation responses become swifter and more ambitious."

What Does Global Warming Really Mean?

A great chart outlining what Global Warming and Climate Change really means

A great chart outlining what Global Warming and Climate Change really means

How I Learned About the Tipping Point

I came to know about the tipping point several years ago when researching climate change, before global warming was even a mainstream phrase. At the time I was warning my family and friends about climate change, its impact on earth, us and civilization in general - I was met with sometimes blank stares and nonchalant attitudes (this was before Al gore even came out with the wildly successful movie " An Inconvenient Truth") I even wrote an article for a newspaper column about this and how we would be having major hurricanes to come because of the effects of climate change and global warming on Earth (Hurricane Katrina came a few months after and we all know what's happened since then - Hurricane Ike and many others)

My point being here is not to say "I told you so" but rather to say - "Hey, let's quit arguing about climate change once and for all and let's do something about it!!" Most people don't know about things like tipping points and abrupt climate change, so they have NO IDEA of the seriousness of what continued unchecked global warming will mean.

So in conclusion, it looks like we may have reached a tipping point (how exactly one would measure that I do not know) and it's possible that left unchecked we may go into a new era of "Abrupt Climate Change", which could start runaway climate change - a far worse situation.

My advice to anyone reading this? Become informed, do what you can do to slow down the process of warming, do your part (recycling, less gas consumption,etc.) because really that's the only thing you can do, and put pressure on your government officials to address this. This is no joke and we are under pressure now to address this growing threat.

(Dorsi Diaz reported on climate change for the San Francisco Examiner from 2008 - 2016, when the SF Examiner site was then sold to an entertainment and sports site) You can also find her articles at The Arctic News and Boomer Warrior.

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Another wonderful hub by fellow writer Sabu with great information on first hand accounts of climate change:

Poll on Abrupt Climate Change and The Tipping Point


Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on August 22, 2013:

I would like to point out that I wrote this 4 years ago in 2009. We are now further down the road and according to Paul Beckwith, we are now in abrupt climate change. Please keep reading all you can on abrupt climate change. It's going to become very relevant for our future and we need to learn to adapt to the coming changes.

Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on June 11, 2012:

@Average) Thanks for the comment. I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel the other day and they said climate change was the number one threat to our continued life on Earth. Man has unfortunately contributed to this scenario, even though natural cycles are of course at play too. Thanks for reading.

Average American from Las Vegas, Nevada on June 08, 2012:

I hate to be the one to say it, but this is not entirely true. Our planet has been far warmer that even the calculations suggest it may become, and it has been much colder as well. Between the vacuum of space the Nuclear Power plant at the center of the solar system, its a constant battle for control. Our contribution in either direction is negligible at best and most likely unmeasurable on a galactic or even planetary scale.

We are just along for the ride. It will all come back around.

Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on September 16, 2011:

@road) Great quote! Thanks for reading.

road2hell from Linden, AB on September 15, 2011:

Here is an interesting quote: "People think about it, talk about it, even pray over it. But unless people act upon it, nothing would ever get accomplished."

LLama from Tibet

Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on September 08, 2011:

@zi.ripon) Thanks for reading!

@roadtohell) Thank you and I agree. The climate tipping point is something alot of people don't know about or understand. Thanks for coming by and commenting.

road2hell from Linden, AB on September 07, 2011:

Excellent hub! Very informative. This is one hub that everyone should read and then do their own research.

zi.ripon from Dhaka,Bangladesh on August 25, 2011:

thanks for your informative site of climate change.

zi.ripon from Dhaka,Bangladesh on May 18, 2011:

Cool, not far away at all. Nice to meet you here (:-)

Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on April 12, 2011:

@Terry) Thanks for the great comment and I agree, Obama came in with overwhelming odds. There has been so much dis-info regarding climate changes that the masses are just plain confused as to what's real and what's not. The arctic melting should be a big wake-up call though... but it too gets buried behind the news of what celebrities are doing what. A sad state of affairs indeed.

Terry Phlip hirneisen from Shenandoah Valley on April 08, 2011:

Population decline might be a big help. But I do not see us doing anything other than killing funding NPR. That is the level of interest the GOP has in Climate Change. The Obama people tried but have overwhelming odds against them.

Thanks for a GREAT HUB. Hope it does some good. Voted UP and AWESOME.

ron on March 16, 2011:

This guy is a lion thire is no globleble warming only globleble cooling... anyon e how beleaves in globle warming is not only a person who bleaves in what al gore says. They are a one world globlebet two

Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on April 29, 2010:

bill yon) That does not sound promising at all. That would mean we will be going through some drastic changes during our own lifetime. Not to mention our children and grandchildren.

Thanks all for stopping by and reading about the climates tipping point.

bill yon from sourcewall on April 29, 2010:

All the big brains say if we don't make drastic changes now:we as a species (not the earth) have only 120 years left.its going to take a worldwide revolution to make a change in the right dirrection.and I really don't think everyone in this world can come together even if it is for our own good.too much hate in our hearts to let that happen.sad but its true.

Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on March 20, 2010:

Thanks Sabu for reading, and the comment. I have put your link in my hub because you wrote such a wonderful article on climate change. Al Gore is one of my heroes too and why can't people just stop arguing about climate change? It's upon us and the evidence is more than clear!!

sabu singh on March 20, 2010:

Thank you for an interesting Hub Dorsi.

I am tempted to ask MNichopolis whether he believes that an Ozone hole exists and we need to curb CFCs or is that also a figment of "Al Gore's" imagination?

MNichopolis from Massachusetts on December 09, 2009:

Please "deny" this comment, it's intended just for you Dorsi. (Of course it's your hub, but it's long and contrary - and I certainly don't want to be a troll)

I've got a couple hubs on climate change with a lot of raw data that you might find interesting related to all of this, but I'd like to actually emphasize something other than climate data, or hacked emails...

What drives people to make many important decisions? All too often it is fear. Soap sellers have long made their living from people fearing that they "smell bad", for instance (not that I'm against soap, but its an example - a related soap example is the dishwashing soap that preys upon your fear of looking old/wrinkled hands - palmolive, and advertise that their soap reduces wrinkles...). Up the fear scale, you've got fear of getting close to someone, or fear of losing someone, etc etc. But there is one fear that many in advertising, or politics know is a reliable button to press on us. Fear of death (or the perception of it).

And this is where the global warming alarmists come in. A climate "tipping point" is just another irrational (and unfounded) fear they're trying to instill upon us. Consider - CO2 levels in the last century are at the lowest levels in the history of the earth - in other words, the earth started with > 50% of the atmosphere as CO2. Still, the earth cooled. There was no CO2 tipping point, otherwise, it never would have cooled (how could it have gone past the tipping point this other way? The idea of a tipping point is like 'capsizing' - once it's tipped, you're screwed right?) Nonetheless, the earth not only cooled, but eliminated the CO2 (not absorbed - plants actually destroy CO2).

whew. ok, almost at my point. Now we've got greedy soap sellers (carbon credits, green energy, more taxes for politicians to spend, etc) trying to convince you that you are going to die. If not you, well, then your children will die (which many consider to be the ugliest kind of lies, exploiting children, such as the video introduced at the opening of the IPCC this week showing a young child being chased by climate change catastrophes such as tornadoes, tidal waves, and even an earthquake! ).

And this is how they're trying to exploit us. Through fear. People make all kinds of irrational decisions based on fear. The emotion clouds our judgment, it causes us to perceives facts in a distorted way - and they know it - they've used this to sell everything from soap to life insurance for decades (how about those blatant home security system tv ads lately where the guy breaks in on women, preying on their fears of rape?).

Now they're using it to sell the biggest product in history. My hubs don't say this explicitly regarding the climate alarmists, but it's the underlying truth - fear is being abused to drive this agenda. You sound like you have an open mind. Think about it. Search out more facts (without worrying about dying - keep fear out of your mind).

And finally - If we let fear make our decisions then we're not very far above the animals, which rely largely on their raw emotions.

Best Wishes,


Ian Morill on July 07, 2009:

I have been campaigning on Green issues for nearly 30 years now (people forget or it seems are not aware ) that environmental groups ie. greenpeace, friends of the Earth etc have been around for 40 years now. We've moved very little in that time in terms of taking positive action. I however have moved from being optimistic that we can change the world (for the better)to realising that we can't, it's now too late. We need to concentrate on adapting to, rather than stopping climate change. People are right to highlight the 2 major issues which seem to be overlooked 1. overpopulation, take a look at a global population graph. It is the most dramatic graph you will ever see. Going from a population of around 200 million which remained stable for 1000's of years going virtually horizontal, to a population of nearly 7 Billion now !!! and that change has happened in the last 350 years !! the graph suddenly goes virtually vertical. We are an animal out of control. We are set to reach 10 Billion by 2050 !! the second point being it's since the industrial revolution.In other words we've invented our way into this mess and our misplaced arrogance says we can invent our way out.Yet history tells us that any invention only creates more problems in it's wake, and so it will be. We believe we are superior yet we set the criteria for that definition (quite convenient)It's a bit like a room full of athletes debating who is the superior and the tall guy stands up and says " I know how we can decide , how about the one who can jump the highest" We define ourselves by our large brain, our ability to show compassion etc. But we don't really use those attributes very well do we. What if what really defines us is our egos. What a fragile , irrational thing that is. You see a Leopard can run just fast enough to catch it's prey, a Giraffe can reach just high enough to reach the leaves but what if we're just not quite clever enough eh ? Not clever enough to work out a solution to it's natural end conclusion. What if we let arrogance and ego get in the way ? We're not superior we're actually inferior and we're bringing about our own demise. Try finding a solution to feeding 10 Billion people, to reversing climate change... i'm sorry i don't think it can be done, we've pushed too far, we're a busted flush. It's pure delusion to think otherwise. Sorry, don't shoot the messenger. - Ian

Misha from DC Area on October 25, 2008:

Ah, I am scared to death :O

Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on October 25, 2008:

The theories aren't half baked! Your thinking is a perfect example of a false dualism or dichotomy which we learned about in Philosophy 101 or elementary logic. Climate change is not an either natural cycles or man-made trends. The earth's climate for thousands of years until relatively recently, resulted from natural factors unrelated to human activities.

Beginning with the industrial revolution and population growth, man-made factors, principally the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from coal fired power plants and motor vehicles, deforestation and population growth contributed to the warming of the earth. The growth and effects of greenhouse gases are well documented scientifically.

Our current and future climate will be the product of both factors--natural cycles and the man made accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As far as I know the natural factors are difficult to predict and impossible to control. It's possible that natural events beyond our control may overwhelm the greenhouse gas effects and result in another ice age or accelerated warming. Nobody knows. On the other hand, we have a pretty good handle on the effect of pumping tons of carbon into the air. The fact that we have had wide swings in the earth's climate in the past does not negate the warming effect of greenhouse gases. BOTH factors determine the climate. So,it seems to me that its only prudent to start to work on the factors that are within our control.

ipsism on October 24, 2008:

OK, you say that everything is settled.

Answer these simple questions:

What caused the glaciers?

Do they show a cyclical appearance?

What's the periodicity of their appearance?

Have you looked at the ice core sample results for the past few million years?

What do they show?

How do the recent INCREASES in Arctic glacier thickness fit with your first 'tipping point'?

Unfortunately, people take half baked theories, declare a consensus and refuse to consider any other possibility. Then, they denegrate people who ask questions because no one is allowed to challenge their consensus.

Yeah, sure.

I'll take the people who ask questions and want proof, not concensus.

C.S.Alexis from NW Indiana on October 23, 2008:


I too remember the blank stares piercing my mind as I tried to suggest to friends and whoever I could get, to act like they were listening. I got called a "TREE HUGGER" more than one time. YESSSSS, guess that would be me. Now I am sure that my home was flooded as a direct result of all of the devastation that we humans have laid on our planet with NO regard for what the long term destruction would bring.

I fear at this point that hotdorkage is probably right. Mother Nature has a way of cleaning house that many will not want to take part in.(on the lighter side) Survival might mean climbing a tree. Then we will see who the tree hugger, "want to be's" are!

Great work here, glad you shared! Regards, C.S.

Chef Jeff from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago. on October 22, 2008:

This is a topic of such great interest to me that I humbly offer up two of my many hubs on this subject to further educate us all.

A most excellent hub!


Chef Jeff

hot dorkage from Oregon, USA on October 22, 2008:

The problem will have to solve itself, geologically, and by nature -- Katrina is just the beginning. Large colonies of humanoids will shrivel up. Humans are just stupid.

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on October 22, 2008:

Dorsi, you've hit upon the most enraging aspect about Climate Change - for me anyway.  While we argue about what to do, how to do it, still try to convince those with their heads firmly planted in the sand that it's real, getting apathetic Americans to wake up, fund this technology, get that into mainstream, etc, etc, etc, we quickly approach, globally, the point of no return; the tipping point.  Then we won't have to worry about it any more!  It'll be too late...

Amanda Severn from UK on October 22, 2008:

I've read a number of articles on this subject lately, and although opinion is divided about what is causing this phenomenum (sun spots v. carbon emmissions) the fact is that it is happening, and it's happening a lot quicker than was originally predicted.

Personally, living as I do, on the coast of an island nation, I recognize that the melting of the polar ice poses a serious threat to our way of living. I've seen projections of what could potentially happen to the UK in the event of a significant rise in sea level, and basically you're ok if you live at the top of a hill, that's assuming you own a rowing boat of course!

Thanks for writing this hub Dorsi. I suspect it's actually too late to avert a great many of the 'natural' disasters which are on their way, but I don't suppose for one minute this is the last we'll hear about all this. Rather the reverse.

pgrundy on October 22, 2008:

Very scary, but you put it all together excellently.

Sadly it seems 'not believing in climate change' has become a point of dogma for many in this country. Here in Michigan we watched a televised debate this past weekend between our incumbent Senator and his Republican challenger. The Republican candidate mocked global warming by pointing out the Michigan "is about to have its coldest winter in decades," as if that proves 'global warming' doesn't exist. As anyone who takes the trouble to research this knows, extreme weather changes of any kind can happen as a result of sudden climate change--one of the scariest parts of it is that many of the effects are unpredictable.

So long as elected officials insist on being proud of their own ignorance it doesn't look good for the rest of us. Let's hope on Nov 4th we throw out the bad and bring in some people who will do something about this pronto.

I'm not holding my breath, but that's what I want.

Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on October 21, 2008:

Good job on a very serious matter. The science is pretty clear. The problem is more one of education and the political leadership to promote the international cooperation to solve the problem before it's too late. I'm not very optimistic that this will happen before we have reached the tipping point.

Carlosweb from USA on October 21, 2008:

Wau!!!!, this is serious, good job.

Bob Ewing from New Brunswick on October 21, 2008:

Good to see this hear, well maybe good is not the word, what i mean is the discussion on climate change seems to be fading, if it was being replaced by action, that would be okay but that is not happening.

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