Climate tipping points of no return

These days, we increasingly hear news stories on say a drought in California, or that the cost of olive oil is set to rise by £ 2 a bottle after a disastrous harvest in Italy. We hear the coral reef has bleached for nearly 30 %, 40 % of the Arctic sea ice has melted and villagers in the Pacific Islands are starting to relocate because of rising sea levels.

They are generally snippets of news here and there as opposed to front page headlines or the main news bulletins. Considering the magnitude of the consequences of global warming on each and every one of us, this is somewhat surprising! Our daily lifestyles continue with little impact from global warming, so why indeed should we change anything? Supermarkets are full and unlimited travel locally and globally is still freely available to each and every one of us. Climate change is happening, but is yet to have a real impact on us. Humans have evolved to assess and respond to risk through immediate feelings rather than cognitive processing. We will only act as a population when confronted with a crisis, happening before our very own eyes.

Drought, crop failure, acidification of oceans, rising sea level – these are what scientists call ‘positive feedback mechanisms’. How is it that these disasters are all directly related to climate change?

This work is an investigation into precisely what feedback mechanisms are, how they got here and how they are related.

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