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Earth nearing ‘tipping point,’ study warns

06 Jun

Read the full story at MSNBC.

Earth is rapidly headed toward a catastrophic breakdown if humans don’t get their act together, according to an international group of scientists.

Writing Wednesday (June 6) in the journal Nature, the researchers warn that the world is headed toward a tipping point marked by extinctions and unpredictable changes on a scale not seen since the glaciers retreated 12,000 years ago.

Citation for the research article: Anthony D. Barnosky, Elizabeth A. Hadly, Jordi Bascompte, et al  (2012). “Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere.” Nature 486, 52–58. doi:10.1038/nature11018.

Abstract: Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence. The plausibility of a planetary-scale ‘tipping point’ highlights the need to improve biological forecasting by detecting early warning signs of critical transitions on global as well as local scales, and by detecting feedbacks that promote such transitions. It is also necessary to address root causes of how humans are forcing biological changes.

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