A school bus goes up a hill, then down. The hilltop is the tipping point. Earth is the bus, but with no driver, just quarreling teenagers, called governments. And no brakes.
The climate system is like a rowboat. It has two stable states. "You can tip and then you’ll just go back. You tip it and just go back. And then you tip it and you get to the other stable state, which is upsihttp://www.climatebites.org/climate-communication-metaphors-and-soundbites/the-consequences-are-bad/abrupt-change/addde down."—Donald Perovich, Army Corps of Engineers.
"Global warming will very probably unleash unstoppable planetary forces. And they will not be gradual. The history of our planet’s climate shows that it does not do gradual change. Under pressure, whether from sunspots or orbital wobbles or the depredations of humans, it lurches – virtually overnight." — Fred Pearce
Positive feedback increases change in whatever direction that change is heading—so it's self-reinforcing. While riding a motorbike, what starts as a slight wobble can quickly escalate into a total loss of control; a crash.
‘Weather is what you see outside your window, climate is what you see from a satellite.’ – Scott Mandia, Professor of Physical Sciences at Suffolk County Community College, New York.
The longer global warming continues, the greater the risk of "waking the sleeping giants"—major feedbacks such as ice sheet collapse, methane "burps," or ecosystem collapse—that could ignite abrupt or runaway warming beyond our control.
Our very elaborate infrastructure won't work because it was designed for the climate we had, not the one we are going to have. — Dr. Richard Somerville, Distinguished Professor, Climate Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
‘The danger is not to the planet but to our civilization on the planet. This is the real challenge of climate change.’ – Adam Frank, writer for National Public Radio.
Want your kids skiing down the bunny slope or the triple black diamond expert slope? This is our choice for reducing our global carbon emissions.
'If you dismiss all climate science as a hoax, I can’t help you. That’s between you & your beach house — and your kids, whose future you’re imperiling.' —Thomas Friedman, NY Times columnist.
‘Ocean barnacles don’t know science. They don’t read science. They don’t watch Fox News… What they do is they respond to the actual position of the ocean and they are moving up.” – Peter Harlem at Florida International University
The faster Arctic ice melts and the more open sea is revealed, the more heat that becomes available to melt the remaining ice and heat up the sea. It's a tipping point of sorts. That's why your glass of Cinzano and lemonade stays cool until the last slivers of ice melt and then the temperature rises rapidly.
“We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don’t know it...It is absolutely critical that we understand Earth’s environment because this is the only place we have to live.” – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
Climate change increases the odds for extreme weather. Like playing Russian Roulette, while adding more and more bullets to a revolver. You'll never know whether the bullet that fired was the original "natural" bullet, or one of the new ones you added. But you'll be just as dead.