Guardian Scratching for Climate Tipping Points

Raising a block of buildings on Lake Street, Chicago. Public domain image, Edward Mendel – Chicago Historical Society

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to The Guardian, the melting of Greenland, which could take centuries, could trigger several meters sea level rise and a cascade of other urgent tipping points. But rising sea level is no threat to the world’s cities. Much of Chicago and Seattle is many feet above the original street level, because people in the 1800s wanted to save their districts from flooding.

The tipping points at the heart of the climate crisis

Michael Marshall

Sun 20 Sep 2020 02.00 AEST

Many parts of the Earth’s climate system have been destabilised by warming, from ice sheets and ocean currents to the Amazon rainforest – and scientists believe that if one collapses others could follow

The warning signs are flashing red. The California wildfires were surely made worse by the impacts of global heating. A study published in July warned that the Arctic is undergoing “an abrupt climate change event” that will probably lead to dramatic changes. As if to underline the point, on 14 September it was reported that a huge ice shelf in northeast Greenland had torn itself apart, worn away by warm waters lapping in from beneath.

Tipping points

We have known for years that many parts of the climate have so-called tipping points. That means a gentle push, like a slow and steady warming, can cause them to change in a big way that is wholly disproportionate to the trigger. If we hit one of these tipping points, we may not have any practical way to stop the unfolding consequences.

The Greenland ice sheet is one example of a tipping point. It contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by seven metres, if it were all to melt. And it is prone to runaway melting.

The collapse would take centuries, which is some comfort, but such collapses are difficult to turn off. Perhaps we could swiftly cool the planet to below the 1.6C threshold, but that would not suffice, as Greenland would be melting uncontrollably. Instead, says Winkelmann, we would have to cool things down much more – it’s not clear by how much. Tipping points that behave like this are sometimes described as “irreversible”, which is confusing; in reality they can be reversed, but it takes a much bigger push than the one that set them off in the first place.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/sep/19/the-tipping-points-at-the-heart-of-the-climate-crisis

Is that it? Is a “tipping point” which takes centuries to manifest really the best they can muster?

A Greenland melting event which took centuries is just not a situation most people would recognise as a crisis. A metre per century of sea level rise would just barely be noticeable on human timescales, because people who redevelop houses, buildings or streets at risk of flooding would simply use land fill to raise the level of the land, as they have always done.

Trying to solve the urban planning problems of the distant future makes as little sense as our ancestors in 1894 trying to figure out how cities in the 1940s would deal with the growing urban horse manure crisis.

Even if after many centuries we did end up with a hothouse Earth, the hothouse ages of the distant past were not a world in crisis; much of the land during past hothouses was covered in lush tropical forests.

The only period in relatively recent times when life on Earth may truly have been at risk of a mass extinction was the depths of the last ice age; CO2 levels dropped so low all the world’s plants almost died. Raising CO2 levels to get as far as possible from a repeat of that crisis is a good thing.

92 thoughts on “Guardian Scratching for Climate Tipping Points

      • The word flooding does not necessarily refer to rising sea levels 😉

        tipping points. That means a gentle push, like a slow and steady warming, can cause them to change in a big way that is wholly disproportionate to the trigger.

        More LIES from the Guardians of the truth.

        A tipping point is a dumbed down term for a positive feedback. The analogy referred to being tipping a tall vase. At some point it starts to fall and falls faster and faster to a catastrophic state where is smashes on the floor. That is the point where the inevitable presence of a negative feedback regains control of the system.

        Once past the “tipping point” there is no slow down, it is irrecoverable fall and the catastrophic result. They key point not that it is “disproportionate”, it is the irrecoverable acceleration caused by a positive feedback. That is why the Arctic sea ice has NOT reached a tipping point, since it stopped accelerating, stopped declining and recovered to 2007 levels by 2018. The much claimed “run away” melting hypothesis is falsified.

        Having failed to find any real tipping points in the climate they now need to redefine what a tipping point even is. That way they can still speculate that they may find one at some unspecified time in the future. This may, or may not, then also trigger some other non tipping, tipping points they tell us.

        That article also claims that a normal calving event is a glacier “ripping itself apart”. More deliberate redirection.

        Here a fun clip of a liberal hearing of RGB’s demise. Don’t forget to demute the sound for full enjoyment.

        Trigger warning: this video contains some strong language which may offend some viewers !
        https://twitter.com/frentanyI/status/1307187156696391680

        • Another example of a “tipping point”:
          When you’re so distracted by political faux outrage you drive your mini-van off a bridge.

      • Exactly, if there were tipping points in the real world, they would have already happened, as there has been warmer times in the past that did not tip even a cow.

        Classic bogeyman in the closet to scare the uninformed and particularly the young.

        Looking at the peak temps of the last five Warm Periods, the Holocene Optimum, Minoan, Roman, Medieval, and Modern, each succeeding peak temp was cooler than the last, forming an almost linear line downward. We just do not know when we will drop into the next Glacial Period, which is part of the current Ice Age that has been ongoing for 2 million years. We have perhaps 10 million years to go to the end of this ice age.

        The tipping point is at the solar system and astronomical level, not our use of fossil fuels.

        • “… there has been warmer times in the past that did not tip even a cow.”

          — but what about a cow tipping a lantern?

    • The point is that Chicago was raised to get it sufficiently above the lake level so the sewers would work. link

      Seattle, on the other hand, raised street level so the first floor of buildings became a basement and the second floor became the street floor. You can take a tour of the tunnels that resulted and walk along sidewalks at the old ground level.

      And then there’s the Netherlands solution where you build dykes and much of the land is below sea level.

      So, for centuries, people have found it practical to live in a situation that would otherwise be waterlogged. ie. adaptation is practical and there’s more than one way to skin that particular cat.

    • It’s on the shore of Lake Michigan, and it had to deal with flooding, of the real kind, from a big melt in the spring or downpour, not from the Climate Emergency hysteria due to a supposed 2-3 mm/yr.

    • There are quite a few folks that refer to the land-to-water transition at the Great Lakes as the USA’s North Coast.
      As mentioned below, Chicago, as a young city, was in a muddy, wet, and crappy mess.

      Eric left out Galveston, by the way.

    • It is, the coast of Lake Michigan. In the late 1800’s the city raised the street level about 15 ft. Some buildings were jacked up, some the first floor was turned into a basement.

  1. Once again Eric Worrall sets out the truth behind the Alarmists’ tipping poiunts, climate catastrophe and imminent flooding event and yet again the Alarmists and Doomsayers will ignore all of it and recite again their catechism of Faith in on-coming Global Warming Disaster. Not even the arrival of endless failed past predictions of climate catastrophe will penetrate or shake the Alarmists’ World View.

  2. Is there a known reason why the Great Lakes should not expand with warmth, like the oceans are said to do, like a liquid thermometer does?
    If for example the warmth affects mostly the top 100m of each, they should rise the same number of mm. If they do not, why not? Geoff S

  3. Make huge dam in Greenland and Greenland can export it’s freshwater melt water to other countries. And get some hydropower.
    Going to need a lot freshwater to turn the Sahara Desert green

    • I doubt that’s the least bit practical. The nearest significant population center is New England or Montreal. You’d need to cross 600 km of the Davis Strait to Labrador with an undersea cable and then overland all the way to southern New England. The Greens won’t even allow sufficient transmission capacity for Quebec Hydro to supply Boston.

      In theory, refilling the ancient aquifers of the Sahara would be a way to sequester water, and mitigate sea level rise. But it seems likely that it costs more to transport water in tankers to Africa than to desalinate seawater on site. Both approaches seem prohibitively expensive.

      To the extent that the meltwater is used for irrigation and ends up transpiring from crops, that water will end up mostly in the oceans via rainfall, contributing to SLR. It would only be water used to recharge the aquifers that would avoid sea level rise. But there’s no immediate economic benefit from that. So you’d be spending insane amounts of money in a likely vain attempt the hold back the tides.

      • “I doubt that’s the least bit practical. The nearest significant population center is New England or Montreal. You’d need to cross 600 km of the Davis Strait to Labrador with an undersea cable and then overland all the way to southern New England. ”
        Greenland could use the electrical power- burn less fossil fuels or have less nuclear power plants and/or get into business of making Aluminum or modern steel making. Why can’t people of Greenland be richest people in the world- put I think the make more export money from the water, though infrastructure costs could more expensive than making aluminum or something. Or if have electrical power, it’s sort zero costs to Greenland getting the industry there, whereas doing something will all the water, could involve significant investment and/or partnership involving Greenland and other countries. Or doing something with water, requires a more competent government.

  4. ”Perhaps we could swiftly cool the planet to below the 1.6C threshold, but that would not suffice, as Greenland would be melting uncontrollably. Instead, says Winkelmann, we would have to cool things down much more – it’s not clear by how much.”

    Oh sweet jezuz! How many things wrong in one sentence? Who the hell are these people.

    • “Who the hell are these people.” They are EXPERTS Mike. Aren’t you impressed ?

      Whether Greenland ice sheet is melting uncontrollably or freezing uncontrollably the main thing to realise is that it is uncontrollable. We are not going to change nature on that scale by changing a few light bulbs and cycling to work !!

  5. Great lakes water levels history here: http://lre-wm.usace.army.mil/ForecastData/GLBasinConditions/LTA-GLWL-Graph.pdf
    and monthly for 2019 and 2020 here: http://lre-wm.usace.army.mil/ForecastData/GLBasinConditions/daily-GLWL-Graph.pdf

    Levels for Superior and Michigan/Huron low for most of the 2000s and variable going back to 1918.

    Looks like a few mm due to purely thermal expansion might not be noticed. Drainage basin snowpack and runoff, or even occasional seiche probably more interesting.

  6. ‘the melting of Greenland, which could take centuries..’

    but it won’t, not now. Take a look at the temperatures in the last 10 years across the arctic/Siberia/N Canada, Alaska, Svalbard.

    2nd lowest arctic sea ice in the record in 2020… 3rd lowest 2019, 4th lowest 2016…

    • Those Ice measurements are only since the very high 1975-80 period.
      You need to read about previous low ice periods.
      The fact that temperatures in the arctic are only just edging out 50 or 100 year old records should tell you something.

      • Yep. And 25 US states still having all-time high temperature records set prior to 1941, and before UHI effect was significant, tells you something as well.

      • Well obviously, Fred. The griffter acknowledges data back to 1979. That’s 41 years. Surely 41 is higher than his IQ. He might make it above the idiot category (0-25) but I don’t think that a reasonable case can be made that he’s a high-functioning imbecile (26-50). He certainly doesn’t rise to the level of a moron (51-70).

    • So far this freeze season Greenland has already added 25 Gigatons of ice and it is just getting started. Water sucked out of the oceans and deposited on the ice sheets. It happens every year.

    • Remind me Griff, when was the biggest climate shift at Svalbard etc. Oh yer, the annual mean temperature went up 4C from -9C to -5C between 1915 and 1935, before climate change was invented.

    • It will without doubt have come to your Lordship’s knowledge that a considerable change of climate, inexplicable at present to us, must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years, greatly abated.

      (This) affords ample proof that new sources of warmth have been opened and give us leave to hope that the Arctic Seas may at this time be more accessible than they have been for centuries past, and that discoveries may now be made in them not only interesting to the advancement of science but also to the future intercourse of mankind and the commerce of distant nations.
      President of the Royal Society, London, to the Admiralty, 20th November, 1817 [13]

      *13 President of the Royal Society, Minutes of Council,
      Volume 8. pp.149-153, Royal Society, London.
      20th November, 1817.

      • …. and then there was this too. Not the first time I’ve posted this here:

        WARNING: If you have a congenital inability to enjoy nature and life in general, this may upset you.

      • The scene from 0:50 thru 1:08 is very strange and I genuinely cannot believe that it is real. In all likelihood this is a computer-generated image cgi using a swash zone movement of water on a beach as a mask for simulating this effect on the action of the clouds. The image of a pulse at 1:04 is very suggestive of this being water motion and not clouds.

    • OMG…. how embarrassing, but Bragg always was a twat, and now he’s putting on a fake American accent LOL!

    • Oh? So sing-a-longs now count as scientific discussion?

      Well then, how about a bit of Dead Kennedys?

      “Jane Fonda on the screen today
      Convinced the liberals it’s okay
      So let’s get dressed to dance away the night”

      or

      “I am Governor Jerry Brown
      My aura smiles and never frowns
      Soon, I will be president
      Carter power will soon go away
      I will be Führer one day
      I will command all of you
      Your kids will meditate in school
      Your kids will meditate in school”

      There you go, Griff. Musical proof that you are WRONG on everything. QED.

  7. Not another Michael surely?
    It would have been funny reading his ideas on cooling the planet by over 1.6 deg C, to remelt the ice sheets he is so concerned about. That is double the increase generally accepted to have taken place since 1850. All of that increase, being natural variation with a great benefit to plants and life on earth not to mention the beneficial uptick in CO2 that will stand us in good stead, should a global cooling event result in reductions of growing seasons.
    Where does the Guardian find these nobodies? More importantly, why do they keep finding them because each and every time, the Guardian loses yet more credibility (I know that is hard to believe, as it is already zero, but we never thought we would see negative interest rates either).
    Maybe he hasn’t yet realised the flaw in his tipping point mind. If CO2 was the climate change driver and had caused 0.8 deg C by moving from 280 PPM to 412 PPM an increase of 132 PPM over the period in mind. Then using his logic/idea of introducing cooling by 1.6 deg C would involve dropping CO2 down by 132 PPM to get back to the start point then another 132 PPM to achieve the 1.6 deg C correction he seeks. Unfortunately at 148 PPM CO2 in the atmosphere that is past the point where all eco systems on Earth die.
    Perhaps the Greens, have a hidden message in their belief system?

  8. ALL cities impacted by sea level rise have ample time to adjust.
    Melbourne Australia is one of the top 100 cities impacted by sea level rise.
    However, Melbourne’s coast has already been mapped.
    Planning rules have already been put in place.
    https://planning-schemes.delwp.vic.gov.au/schemes/vpps/13_01-2S.pdf
    Melbourne should have no issue dealing with the sea level rise

    Cities such as Mumbai and Dhaka have also been mapped. If they don’t creat new planning laws, that’s their fault.

  9. There’s only one Tipping Point that’s of any real concern – that is= The Creation of Desert

    Really do think about this little chicken/egg – which comes first (what creates what) in A Rainforest?
    (Or a lush jungle as referred to above)

    Another chicken/egg: does hotness & dryness *create* The Desert or does something about The Desert create the hotness & dryness?
    Tied into those 2 questions is: Why do deserts exist at similar latitudes to lush rainforests?
    Also, where did all the sand come from?

    Thus and from recent history, what happened to create The Sahara? A place of ‘lushness’ barely 6,000 years ago
    Likewise why is The fertile Crescent now a vast expanse of sand?

    The answer is *very* simple.
    You burn the ‘lush’ forest. And you keep on repeatedly burning it whenever it grows back. Then you put cows, sheep, goats, horses onto the hapless ‘lushness’ to eat bare the grasses that grow *and* any trees that dare peek put of the ground.
    Any and all current and ex livestock keepers *know* that grazing animals have an instinct telling them NOT to let the trees grow back

    And so we see the process In Real Time occurring in California & Oregon right now. Indigenous/native people DID NOT ‘manage’ the forest by burning – they set in train a process we all see happening now. The forest has been burned too many times and cannot recover and EVEN WORSE, the imagined cure is to use ‘controlled’ burns to stop it burning. The World has gone mad

    What’s left of California forest is now that vase falling over – and its full of gasoline too.

    A way has GOT to be found to keep all that organic material within the forest (soil) – material that is now burning and carrying away what little plant nutrition is left there.

    Considering that US farmers presently own/use some pretty big ’tillage’ machinery, on *just* 90 million acres of land *just* to grow corn (most of which is burned – sigh) – why not employ them during quieter agricultural moments to do something in Cali and Oregon.
    THAT is the only way to stop the fires and keep them from restarting= re-create the ‘lush’ forest, with its high organic-matter soils

    BTW. Its quite obvious, to me at least, that a lot of that burning is caused by disgruntled childish (chronically depressed) muppets who imagine they have a grudge against Mr Trump. Maybe even The Russians. Eating cooked starch creates creatures not dissimilar to drunks, belligerent, argumentative and just plain stoopid.

    We’re in A Lotta Trubble here – a *big* lot

    • Controlled burns simply replace natural burns that are now suppressed from fire prevention. This prevents tree top fires that sterilize the soil and take a century or more to recover.

      I used to live at 6,000′ elevation off the 108 near the border of the Immigrant Wilderness. We had two summer lightning strike fires within 400′ of my home in two years. Both were put out by people driving by. I sold my home because the Forrest was intensely overgrown and most if the logging had been stopped, as well as most if the controlled burns.

      And yes, the indigenous tribes did set seasonal fires.

    • The Sahara was created when climate changed at the end of the last glacial. It had nothing to do with man, ditto the fertile crescent.

      • The deserts in both cases are much younger than the end of the last glacial.
        Human activity did not create the Sahara desert but probably was important in the fertile crescent, as it has been in many other areas such as the Loess Plateau.

  10. We have had flooding problems in southeastern Virginia from time immemorial. Part of the problem is due to reclaiming land from the sea, as much of downtown Norfolk was formerly part of the Elizabeth River. Notwithstanding the Sewell’s Point Tidal Gauge tracking of the increase of sea level over time, a recent article about the expanded capabilities of our satellites ability to measure physical phenomena on earth reveals the discovery that the average degree of subsidence is 2.5mm a year. Don’t tell the alarmists who refer to our ongoing issues with the sea as due to CO2.

    https://wydaily.com/local-news/2020/09/12/new-study-provides-insight-from-space-into-sinking-land-in-hampton-roads/
    [Link fixed – mod]

  11. From the article: “Many parts of the Earth’s climate system have been destabilised by warming, from ice sheets and ocean currents to the Amazon rainforest – and scientists believe that if one collapses others could follow”

    Well, in the 1930’s, it was just as warm as it is today, and the Earth’s climate system wasn’t destabilized and nothing collapsed as a result of that level of warming, so we should not expect things to be destablized or collapse with the similar warming of today.

    The 1930’s were just as warm as the 21st century. There is more CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere today than there was in the 1930’s, yet today is no warmer than the 1930’s. CO2 seems to have a negligible effect on the Earth’s temperature.

    • Yep. 25 US states still hold all-time high temperature records set prior to 1941, and before UHI effect was significant. More than a few daily high temperature records in my city were set in the 1890s. NOAA records are easily accessible and have not yet been purged or “adjusted” thanks be to Trump.

  12. How come no one has expanded on this thought:
    “our ancestors in 1894 trying to figure out how cities in the 1940s would deal with the growing urban horse manure crisis.”
    We solved the crisis, we moved all of the horse manure generators to a single city: Washington……..

  13. Another goal post moved and definition redefined to complete the narrative that humans=bad.

    There is nothing wrong with a warmer Earth. It means a greener Earth and considering the largest biomass on the planet–that’s a good thing.

    We are not in control of the Earth, despite both narrative camps believing so (the humans are a blight vs the humans are supreme). If the Earth spun out of it’s orbit tomorrow, we have no say in it. If the Sun expelled we’d get to know about it for 8 mins. If the Moon exploded, all we can do is watch and wait. And if the ocean floor erupts and causes a worldwide tsunami there is nothing we can do except warn those that may be affected and hopefully evacuate.

    The point is simple, in the grand scheme of scale, we humans have very little impact on anything that could really wipe out populations of our own species. Unless we do it ourselves and release nukes upon the world. Short of that, what we CAN do is adapt. Instead of wringing our hands and hopping back and forth on each foot about how rising sea levels will destroy a city on a lake, we move inland, or use our big brains and adapt the rising levels with what we have learned works.

    • ‘Across the United States, some 162 million people — nearly one in two — will most likely experience a decline in the quality of their environment, namely more heat and less water. For 93 million of them, the changes could be particularly severe, and by 2070, our analysis suggests, if carbon emissions rise at extreme levels, at least four million Americans could find themselves living at the fringe, in places decidedly outside the ideal niche for human life. The cost of resisting the new climate reality is mounting. Florida officials have already acknowledged that defending some roadways against the sea will be unaffordable. And the nation’s federal flood-insurance program is for the first time requiring that some of its payouts be used to retreat from climate threats across the country. It will soon prove too expensive to maintain the status quo.’

      https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/15/magazine/climate-crisis-migration-america.html

      • …. and yet again, griff says “wibble, wibble, sausages, sausages” by the cut-and-paste method. Hey, at least people talk to him, despite the fact that he’s incapable of responding. That’s more than he gets in real life.

        I know the diagnosis griff, because I’ve had to endure two people with it before. Good luck.

      • Oh NO, we only have 50 years to address what may never become a problem. Better get those Congressional committees to work right away on solutions that will cost trillions and have negligible impact.

        • “Better get those Congressional committees to work right away on solutions”

          They are on vacation. They need lots of time off, even during a pandemic.

      • NY Times catastrophists making a FOOL of themselves again with their made-up fantasies. and climate BS.

        Just for griffool to swallow up and regurgitate, without one single rational thought process.

        Why does griffool always fall for such scientifically unsupportable BS !!

  14. The day these looney fools start trying to cool the earth is the day I take up arms. If you want a disaster let the woke left start actually messing with our weather and climate. Since the record of the same group in predictions is 0.00% correct I vote NO. Even IF the climate disaster prophets are right which is more than highly doubtful human ingenuity would win out.

  15. “We have known for years that many parts of the climate have so-called tipping points.”

    Since when is claiming the same as knowing?

  16. “Tipping Point” like so much other “science” is merely a metaphor intended to incite emotional response. If there were such a thing in real “science” it would be have to be demonstrated instead of being assumed.

  17. People use the term tipping point because by definition is the point of no return. It’s meant to scare people into action. The tipping is described as a point because literally there is a point in time when all action to reverse a situation has become impossible, literally irreversible. Eg monday 6pm , 8 th of June 2020 ok, Monday 6.05 pm 8th of June , too late!
    Because people are beginning to realise that the prediction of tipping points in times that come and go lead to the logical conclusion that if that has indeed occurred then any funds expensed or actions taken to reverse the situation after that time is an exercise in futility and from a policy point of view the only logical action one can take is inaction and just make the best of how life will be in the future. What man must do when a tipping point has passed is preserve resources to make whatever horrible things might be in the future as comfortable as possible.
    This new definition of a tipping point not being a point and being reversible is just the raving lunatic semantics of someone who realises that whatever message the concept of tipping point was meant to have is actually conveying the exact opposite. The absolute relief that a properly defined tipping point has of comforting the activist into knowing that now a tipping point has been reached and passed that despite all his efforts there is now officially nothing that can be done by him to alter the inevitable direction of the impending climate catastrophe. Like the acceptance everyone has of their own mortality this acceptance of inevitability is very reassuring. I think it officially means it’s time to party.

  18. GRIP – the deepest core on Greenland bottoms out at 2983 Metres TD in the first ice of some 428,000 years BP when the sea level was 110 metres below its current level. Whoops. And before that the DNA on the spores estimated that for the previous 400,000years the climate was temperate enough on Greenland to have pine forests. The CO2 levels were about 270 ppm (Vostok core). So there you have it -no ice on Greenland, sea level well below the current levels and CO2 sitting at levels onsidered pre industrial having no effect on sea level of the climate in Greenland.

  19. Where to even start.
    Chicago is about 600 feet above sea level.
    Ya wanna know why that building was being jacked up ?
    A 2 minute search gives up this:

    “After many died from cholera and typhoid outbreaks, the City made a bold decision in 1855: raise the roads four to 14 feet to make room for sewers. So sewer pipes and drains were laid across the city, allowing for wastewater to flow away instead of flooding the streets.”

    Chicago was built in a “swamp”.

    • I think that was mostly due to the fact the city let waste flow in to the lake which fed the water supply. Raising the city was just one step in the process.

  20. Last year as a tourist to Seattle I enjoyed “ Billy Speidel’s Underground Tour” of the City.
    It is an enjoyable 75 minute stroll through intriguing underground storefronts and sidewalks entombed when the City rebuilt on top of itself after the Great Fire of 1889.
    It is a time capsule view of a buried city.
    I can’t speak for Chicago but I don’t think 7 inches a Century or similar is going to present Seattle with any existential challenges.

Comments are closed.