Climate change tipping points may be too simple a concept, say researchers

Posted: October 9, 2021 by oldbrew in Analysis, climate, research
Tags:

Earth and climate – an ongoing controversy

Many of Earth’s complex systems ‘may be more resilient than currently thought’, in the words of the study. Makes a change from claims that various climate nasties lurk just round the corner if this or that is allowed to happen.
– – –
We regularly hear warnings that climate change may lead to ‘tipping points’: irreversible situations where savanna can quickly change into desert, or the warm gulf stream current can simply stop flowing, says Phys.org.

These cautions often refer to spatial patterns as early-warning signals of tipping points. An international team of ecologists and mathematicians has studied these patterns and come to a surprising conclusion.

“Yes, we need to do everything we can to stop climate change,” the authors said in full agreement with the recent IPCC report. “But the Earth is much more resilient than previously thought. The concept of tipping points is too simple.”

The scientists have recently published their work in the journal Science.

The article builds on years of collaboration between a variety of research institutes in the Netherlands and abroad, especially between Utrecht University and Leiden University.

The researchers approached the idea of a tipping point within a spatial context. “The formation of spatial patterns in ecosystems, like the spontaneous formation of complex vegetation patterns, is often explained as an early-warning signal for a critical transition,” explains lead author Max Rietkerk, ecologist affiliated with Utrecht University.

“But these patterns actually appear to allow ecosystems to evade such tipping points.”

These findings are based on mathematical analyses of spatial models and new observations from real-world ecosystems.

Continued here.
– – –
Study: Evasion of tipping in complex systems through spatial pattern formation

Comments
  1. What? You mean focusing on a distant tertiary cause while ignoring the two primary causes to the extent that they are completely omitted and trying to place a bandaid over a complex and systemic issue is not going to magically resolve everything?

    Say it ain’t so Gracie! Say it ain’t so!

  2. Bloke down the pub says:

    The IPCC’s assumption that feedbacks were positive was only ever based on a precautionary principle and was not supported by any evidence. Of course without that assumption, they would’ve put themselves out of a job , so that was never going to happen.

  3. ilma630 says:

    So, they’re beginning to understand reality is not what they believe it to be, but still stick to the same old solutions which assume their misunderstood belief is reality. And they call themselves ‘scientists’! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  4. Ron Clutz says:

    It is heartening that the authors refer to the resilience of ecosystems and say that observed ecological disturbances are in fact evidence of natural stability, not fragility. Yet readers should note their paper begins with:
    “In the Anthropocene, there is a need to better understand the catastrophic effects that climate and land-use change may have on ecosystems, Earth system components, and the whole Earth system.”

    They go on to describe a theory of “tipping points” that pertains to sociology not natural science, assuming of course the environmental mythological Garden of Eden that would be eternal except for human evil activity.

    The whole paradigm is a corruption of hard physical science by soft sociological fuzzy thinking, a specialty of environmentalism.

    For a more realistic view of nature and biological processes see writings by Daniel Botkin, who led the shift in paradigm to Dynamic Ecology, especially in his influential book: Discordant Harmonies: a New Ecology for the Twenty-first Century. 1990 Oxford University Press, New York. In 2014 he shared his view of the climate change issue in Testimony to the House Subcommittee on Science,Space and Technology. The whole document is enlightening, and included point-by-point critique of IPCC statements. Transcript is:

    Click to access HHRG-113-SY-WState-DBotkin-20140529.pdf

    My synopsis is included in this post:

    Critical Climate Intelligence for Jurists (and others)

    For some serious pushback against importing “tipping points” into earth sciences see

    Tipping Points Confuse Social and Earth Science

  5. JB says:

    To be politically correct, one must engage in Orwell’s Double Think and Double Speak. That’s how they believe they can retain professional respectability and political acceptability. This article strikes me more as scientism than actual scientific inquiry.

    When I was a child, I thought and acted as a child, innocent and lacking the skill of mendacity. By adulthood, I realized that phase of life was a career of subterfuge, propaganda, conspiracy, and evasion of accountability. I’ve never been good at such practice, and effectively isolated when not bashed over the head for trying to expose it for what it is.

  6. […] Talkshop helpfully posted on a new study Climate change tipping points may be too simple a concept, say researchers.  This is welcome to hear, but as I will discuss below, the authors do not go nearly far enough to […]

  7. ilma630 says:

    Personally, I favour the biblical principle of “Let your yes be yes”.

  8. Phoenix44 says:

    There’s zero actual evidence of tipping points anywhere outside of models that assume tipping points exist. They exist in order to persuade gullible politicians that they must act now rather than waiting and seeing what happens.

    Tipping points are purely political.

  9. oldbrew says:

    Rietkerk refers to the transition from savanna to desert. “There you can observe all sorts of complex spatial forms. It’s a spatial reorganization, but not necessarily a tipping point. On the contrary: those Turing patterns are actually a sign of resilience.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_pattern

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patterns_in_nature

  10. Gamecock says:

    “On the contrary: those Turning patterns are actually a sign of resilience.”

    Curious, oldbrew. The article says ‘Turning patterns,’ not Turing patterns. You quote what isn’t there.

    It is refreshing to see climate scientists recognize resiliency in nature. They have reached a 14 year old’s view of biology.

    ‘An international team of ecologists and mathematicians has studied these patterns and come to a surprising conclusion. “Yes, we need to do everything we can to stop climate change,” the authors said in full agreement with the recent IPCC report.’

    A declaration of orthodoxy. It does not flow from anything they learned. Frozen evaluation dogma.

    ‘These findings are based on mathematical analyses of spatial models and new observations from real-world ecosystems.’

    They could have just asked Gamecock 30 years ago. One should wonder what is different now as opposed to 30 years ago. What revelation could they not have seen 30 years ago?

  11. stpaulchuck says:

    I might give some credence to tipping points if they could couple the concept with the ice age cycle. Something(s) cause the cooling to go past a certain point and ‘ice age’ happens. I’ve not read any credible papers explaining that or what pushes intra ice age warming periods to keep on going and give us interglacial periods of warmth and melting.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Gamecock says: ‘Curious, oldbrew. The article says ‘Turning patterns,’ not Turing patterns. You quote what isn’t there.’

    They misprinted, see paragraph headline.

    Alan Turing

    Spontaneously emerging patterns in nature are often referred to as “Turing patterns,” named after the renowned British mathematician Alan Turing. In 1952, he described how patterns in nature, such as the stripes on animals’ coats, can develop from a homogeneous starting position. “In ecological science, the Turing patterns are often explained as early-warning signals, because they indicate disturbance “, clarifies Leiden University mathematician and co-author Arjen Doelman. “Turing’s mechanism of pattern formation is still undisputed. But the fact that a pattern is forming somewhere does not necessarily mean that an equilibrium is disrupted beyond a tipping point.”

  13. Chaswarnertoo says:

    A system that has been stable for billions of years is stable? Never.

  14. oldmanK says:

    Quote from article ” “But the Earth is much more resilient than previously thought. The concept of tipping points is too simple.”

    To my mind that is ‘missing the trees for the woods’. First: Earth id very resilient; no question. Great changes are natural. But the matter is where does humanity stand there. Earth resilience is not homo sapience resilience.

    Re the second part, see https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/36123463.pdf

  15. Paul Vaughan says:

    Circulatory Topology – basic review


    (classic Bill Illis graph)

  16. tom0mason says:

    oldmanK @ October 10, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Thank-you oldmanK,
    You have reiterated what I’ve said for years — from the first time I became aware of these fictional ‘tipping points’. “Tipping points” are just an imaginative and emotional semantic wrapper trying to disguise their sophistry and blatant lies.

    Nature (on this spherical planet) controls the climate, NOT HUMANS!
    Climate Models are just a method of misusing science & mathematics to convince so many people that the nonsense called ‘climate change’ has merit. NO! IT’S JUST NONSENSE!

  17. Gamecock says:

    Signs say we are rapidly approaching the “tipping point” where enough people realize there is nothing we can do about Climate Change™. We’ll just have to get over it.

    Rapidly escalating energy prices and energy shortages and draconian laws – even DECADES before Net Zero – will show that the path laid out for them by government is impossible.

    CoP26 could be the fulcrum.

  18. tallbloke says:

    I hope you’re right. We need big political change at the next general election, and the covid-climate cockups could be the catalyst.

  19. ilma630 says:

    Problem is, when the next election comes, who do you vote for? All the parties are up to their necks in the climate scam.

  20. oldmanK says:

    tom0mason You seem to have got the reverse of what I had in mind.

    Don’t look at the models, the computer generated ones, look at the models of the ‘human catwalk’ along the march of history. See bottom graph here https://melitamegalithic.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/searching-evidence-update-2/
    The earth has always been resilient. But one cannot say that of humanity. It has been to the brink and back several times.

    Now the news is full of “the great concern about energy”. Yet there is profound lack of understanding of energy’s source; its fundamental unreliability; and our today’s dependence on it. As I see it its not nonsense, its dangerous madness.

    A century + a score years ago Britain tested its first AC alternators here and in Burma. No one relied on electricity before that. Now its very different, the brink quite real.

  21. Paul Vaughan says:

    tom0mason, look at the graph. Tipping points are observed.
    Of course the observational record can be disputed, but I haven’t seen any (convincing or otherwise) challenges to Bill Illis’ classic graph of climatic tipping points with geological change.
    …but hear we may agree Mann-made CO2 is not threatening to shut off Drake Passage.

    Politics: Presently no political party is acceptable. None are even close to acceptable. I suggest a liberal party against lockdowns, inequality, and natural-climate lies.

  22. Paul Vaughan says:

    oldmanK wrote “Now the news is full of “the great concern about energy”. […] its dangerous madness.”

    The terrorizing focus on energy (& virus) doom and gloom has been wickedly devilish since very early in 2020. It’s toxic.

    In contrast:
    Exploration of natural climate variation (where free of abusive debate) is and has always been fascinating, clean, and refreshing.

    A delightful prospect would be separate streams.

  23. tom0mason says:

    Paul Vaughan,

    I’m sorry but I see very few rapid tipping points as IPCC advocates have described.
    There are many events that take a ‘short’ time given the historical scale of the graph you show but this is not to the same quick time these dumb advocates have conjured-up. These advocate attempts are for many tipping points happening in rapid succession, within one or two human generations time.
    All this from a pifflingly small increase in CO2.
    Just three examples of academics and their beliefs (there are so many more) —
    https://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/resources/sustainability-horizons/january-2020/climate-tipping-points
    https://www.exeter.ac.uk/research/tippingpoints/
    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03595-0 with it’s firm belief the humans are in charge of the climate — “The situation is an emergency if both risk and urgency are high. If reaction time is longer than the intervention time left (τ / T > 1), we have lost control.”

    and oldmanK,
    I believe we are both on the same page with this, however now I am more interested in what politics says based on the deranged ‘science’ the IPCC numpties can pull next.

  24. oldmanK says:

    tom0mason: I note your reply (tks). That, and recent events, make irresistible a comment or two, which may not be out of place.

    Re “– events that take a ‘short’ time given the historical scale of the graph you show –“. What triggers a tipping point is still, IMO, an open question, but the evidence says clearly it is abrupt, far less than one generation. A sharp line in a ‘sediment’ proxy is already ‘unfocussed’. The event that does it is much shorter. That fact is very evident in geology, but difficult to discern in most cases/proxies.

    In that perspective picking only on CO2 (as a scape-goat) and taking the present attitude, I see as a great folly. (Consider for instance a major failure in the russian gas pipe-line. Is there a backup? How fast is social collapse, set against repair time?).
    Related point: yesterday news say UK people were prepared (mentally) for covid lockdown. Same was said by IMechE yrs ago of preparedness for WW2; to accept and adapt to a much change life-style.
    The first link proposes the opposite; to do something ‘useless’ to avoid it.
    The second link says effectively we are there with renewables. Is that so?
    Third link says “–, identify knowledge gaps and suggest how these should be plugged. We explore the effects of such large-scale changes, how quickly they might unfold and whether we still have any control over them.”. Mentions many effects but not the prime mover; the trigger. Is it realised there may be an extraneous(?) trigger to it all? The regularity of historic events as in my link above point to such.

    I wish to hear how the extremely mechanised agrarian industry that keeps us alive is to be kept fully functional and more productive (a need, to make up for failure elsewhere); ie re motive power and its fuel. Electrification does not work there. An eye-opener; agriculture was the first victim of covid.

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