Many of the used terms in climatology are extremely superficial, if not meaningless, which is a major reason for the hysteria in the current climate change debate. And science is using them recklessly. The result is obvious, when the claim is made: The world may already have crossed a series of climate tipping points, which mean an ‘existential threat to civilization’.(The Guardian, Nov.2019). Many climate scientists have warned that CO2 has pushed Earth dangerously close to a no-return threshold, beyond which lies an unlivable hothouse world. (See: Phy.Org Nov 2019). This belongs in the department: Scare monger machine.
The term ‘tipping point’ has its origin in physics and chemistry, meaning: that if an object becomes unbalanced, even a slight force can cause it to topple. Note that this explanation refers to “one object”. Currently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chang (IPCC) says:
___ IPCC, Glossary – 4/06/2018.Tipping point: A level of change in system properties beyond which a system reorganizes, often abruptly, and does not return to the initial state even if the drivers of the change are abated. For the climate system, it refers to a critical threshold when global or regional climate changes from one stable state to another stable state.
___Wikipedia cites the IPCC in this way: The IPCC AR5 defines a tipping point as an irreversible change in the climate system.
The problem starts with referring to “a climate system”. The IPCC (2018) defines it as a“highly complex system consisting of five major components: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the lithosphere and the biosphere and the interactions between them”, which has two principal flows:
It actually means nothing else as the interaction of nature, which explains nothing. All that this boils down to is ‘the interactions of the natural system’. What is the point of a term if it explains nothing? (See Letter to Nature, 1992)
Worst is the use of the word ‘climate’, which according IPCC is the statistic of average weather over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years, culminating in the fact that IPCC does not explains in the Glossary, what it regards as ‘weather’. (Discussion HERE)
The corresponding Glossary of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) is neither very helpful, merely saying that: The “present weather” table consists of 100 possible conditions, (More HERE ), thereby paving the way to a meaning that cannot be verified. There is no ‘object’, like in physics, which can become unbalanced, as mentioned above. But scientists speak about it, as if they understand the complexity of the unexplained.
T.M. Lenton et.al.paper from 2008 started with the sentence: The term “tipping point” commonly refers to a critical threshold at which a tiny perturbation can qualitatively alter the state or development of a system. The same authors: T.M. Lenton, S. Rahmstorf and HJ. Schellnhuber, et. al, published recently again an article in NATURE, 27. Nov. 2019, titled: “Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against”. They talk about ice collapse, biosphere boundaries, global cascade, offering nothing more than the believe, that by strongly forcing the system, with atmospheric CO2 concentration and global temperature increasing at rates that are an order of magnitude higher than those during the most recent deglaciation. Not one word can be found that the earth got warmer since the end of the Little Ice Age, around 1850, about 100 years before consumption of fossil fuel raised the CO2 level significantly. Not one word about the entire impact of the ocean and the impact of human activities at sea may have had since industrialization commenced. But like their paper in 2008, their tipping-points scenarios aim to raise scare, concluding with the warning: „We argue that the intervention time left to prevent tipping could already have shrunk towards zero, whereas the reaction time to achieve net zero emissions is 30 years at best. Hence we might already have lost control of whether tipping happens. A saving grace is that the rate at which damage accumulates from tipping — and hence the risk posed — could still be under our control to some extent.The stability and resilience of our planet is in peril. International action — not just words — must reflect this.”
Even the skeptical think-tank Global Warming Policy Forum (GWP), adopted the claim that “Global warming alone is insufficient to cause such a tipping point”, and that a better “insights into the role of water vapor may help researchers predict how the planet will respond to warming”. They cite an analysis by the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in September 2018.The mere reference to atmospheric water vapor is very naive, because to a very high degree the oceans control it (see Fig. below). In a world were annually averaged sea surface temperature is about 16°C, but the overall ocean mean temperature are merely +4°C , even mentioning a tipping point, would indicate incompetence in climatic matters. That applies also to the above cited authors, T.M. Lenton, S. Rahmstorf and H.J. Schellnhuber, when they refer in their 2019 paper, inter alia, to parts of the oceans, in the Arctic, Antarctic and North-Atlantic. Discussing the general term tipping point without having a thorough insight into the interior of the oceans is a hopeless undertaking, if at all possible.
Every attempt to identify a tipping point in the natural system shows that users of the term understand little about the matter, and nothing about the oceans.