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The (tipping) point of no return

Earth is defined by systems. The sun rises and sets. The tide goes out and comes back in. Currents carry warm water north and cold water south. Ecosystems stay constant and provide home and sustenance for creatures across the globe. Many of these natural systems are known as tipping points because of the risk climate change poses to them. While typically tipping points remain stable, as temperatures rise, they risk losing their balance and falling into disarray. This disarray is self-perpetuating as well, meaning that once a system becomes unstable, it will continue to worsen even if temperatures lower. Not only that, but if one system ‘tips’ the chances of other systems following increases. If that happens, many essential systems and ecosystems that Earth relies on, like the ice sheets, coral reefs, ocean currents, the Amazon Rainforest, and more may be destroyed.

Melting ice

Does this change matter, though? While it’s normal for change to occur within our environment, the destruction of tipping points can be disastrous for people and animals alike. If a system ‘tips,’ it can cause a dangerous increase in temperature, destruction of habitat, decrease in biodiversity, a loss of livelihood, and, as said earlier, a risk of further changes to other tipping points. Right now, there is not much we can do to stop these systems from tipping. We’re already seeing multiple systems at risk, like the Atlantic currents and the Amazon Rainforest. There is, however, one thing we can do. We must enact sudden and dramatic climate change combating measures like decreasing fossil fuels, ending the destruction of important ecosystems, and fighting against large-scale pollution. It’s the only thing we have left to do.

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