Leading scientists agree that if we don’t reduce the carbon in the atmosphere, the Earth’s climate will pass at least one of several “tipping points” which would mean the planet continues to grow warmer and warmer, even if human contributions to global warming cease. There are multiple ways we could pass such a tipping point. One of the most commonly cited is that if too much polar ice melts due to global warming, it would reduce the area of the globe covered by highly reflective white, increasing the planet’s tendency to absorb heat. As the Earth absorbed more heat, even more ice would melt, spiraling into a continuous feedback loop. No one knows how long it would take global temperatures to stabilize, or exactly how hot the world would get. What’s certain though is that if that tipping point is reached, we will lose our chance to stop global warming, and the planet will become considerably less hospitable to human civilization. Melting polar ice is only one of many feedback cycles that could be unleashed. This is why it’s so essential to cut the carbon content of the atmosphere before we make it to one of those tipping points.
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