Human-caused climate change is one of the biggest concerns the planet faces in the 21st Century. Renowned naturalist David Attenborough told the U.N. Security Council in February 2021 climate change is “the biggest threat to security that modern humans have ever faced,” while a World Health Organization report from October 2021 said it is the “single biggest health threat facing humanity.” (Here are cities around the world that will soon be underwater.)
Climate change affects everything from regional biodiversity to global crop yields and its effects can be witnessed in seasonal fires in boreal forests of North America, more powerful and frequent Atlantic storms, Amazon rainforest turning into savannah, and Greenland melt.
To identify the 10 climate tipping points the world needs to avoid at all costs, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the scenarios outlined in Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk, a report published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on May 22, 2022.
In 2020, scientists discovered a new source of greenhouse gas emissions off the coast of East Siberia, as warmer waters causes the seafloor to release ice-encased methane, a potent source of global warming. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the so-called Arctic hydrate destabilization is one of the most serious scenarios for abrupt climate change that has implications far beyond the melting ice of the polar north. (These are the 20 countries responsible for nearly all global emissions.)
The globe has many environmental tipping points, where prevention of a climate disaster could turn into resignation and mitigation. For example, a 2018 study published in the journal Earth System Dynamics said the world was reaching a point of no return after which it would be impossible to prevent the catastrophic effects of a 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures (from pre-industrial levels), something the Paris Agreement international treaty is aiming to prevent.