‘Tipping Point’ — A non-technical Hansen piece

The nation’s top climate scientists, James Hansen, has just published a general-audience article, “Tipping Point,” in “2008-2009 State of the Wild,” from Island Press. It is well worth sending to folks who don’t like all the math. His key points:

We are at the tipping point because the climate state includes large, ready positive feedbacks provided by the Arctic sea ice, the West Antarctic ice sheet, and much of Greenland’s ice….

Prior major warmings in Earth’s history, the most recent occurring 55 million years ago . . . resulted in the extinction of half or more of the species then on the planet….

In my view, special interests have undue sway with our governments and have effectively promoted minimalist actions and growth in fossil fuels, rather than making the scale of investments necessary.

You might also like this figure on “cumulative fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions by different countries as a percent of global total”:


China has a long way to go to catch up to this country — let alone the entire industrialized world — on cumulative emissions (though they are obviously trying as hard as they can).


4 Responses to ‘Tipping Point’ — A non-technical Hansen piece

  1. MAGB says:

    “Arctic sea ice, the West Antarctic ice sheet, and much of Greenland’s ice…”

    Why doesn’t he mention the fact that total southern hemisphere ice has been increasing for decades. with a recent sudden spurt upwards? This would seem to tip things the other way. See

  2. steve shoap says:

    I have invented two things that will help fight climate change.

    One is a way to make small cars safer in collisions. It will encourage American car buyers to consider a small, fuel efficient car.

    The second is a new way to move water. It can be used to fight wildfires or bring water to villages that have lost their water supply to climate change.

    Everybody is talking about reducing CO2 emissions, but the “establishment” will not even talk to me.

    Please see my website-

  3. David B. Benson says:

    MAGB — Using a different measure, global temperature, it seems we have a few more decades before reaching the highest temperature during the Holocene.

    But oly a few…

  4. David Jasper says:

    The human impact on global warming will be short lived. We are rapidly approaching the end of fossil fuel supplies: natural gas in 10-15 years, Petroleum in 15-20 and coal in 40-50. all these assume current rates of consumption. With industrialization of China and India we will reach the end much sooner. Of course wars also consume huge amounts and as supplies become more scarce there will be more wars. There may be offsetting actions but really the fossil fuel party of the past 100 years is winding down and the world is in for a BIG CHANGE not just weather.