The climate change tipping point

“Do you remember the ‘tipping point’ (i.e. the temperature rise that would cause irreversible effects on Earth)?” asks guest blogger Ioannis Zabetakis of the University of Athens. Scientists had suggested few years ago that this tipping point would be a rise of 2 oC on the average temperature of our planet. Since then, a lot of research has been carried out along with some “sexing up” of data (Sexing up climate data). The questions though about the strength of the data that have been used in order to define this tipping point are still in place. And practically, what do we need to do (governments, NGOs and all of us, as citizens) in our every day life in order to avoid irreversible changes?

Public consultation without solid data?

Despite the lack of scientific data on the impact of global warming on climate and on food security, few days ago (on the 22nd of March) Dr Shaw (with this post (, presented a rather interesting approach to the tipping point discussion. He has suggested that it is time to ask the public about the “2 degrees” presenting the case as “denying the ostens­ibly free cit­izens of demo­cratic soci­eties the oppor­tunity to engage in the most important and basic ques­tion about cli­mate change”.

Science first

I would think that in order to have a fruitful public debate on this issue (as in any issue that science and politics could have a huge impact on everyday life and practices), we need to follow some different steps. We need to make sure that the best scientific data would have been produced in expert studies and then these data could be made publicly available to ignite a fruitful discussion and consultation. Without solid scientific data (reliable, independent, accurate, free of political and other “influences”), how could we ask the people to engage to a discussion?

Climate change and food security

The problem, today, we need to face when we are asked to suggest solutions towards the sustainable production of food is this: how can me make “safe” predictions and future projections on availability resources (water, land, fertilizers etc), when we do not know the rate of climate change and its impact on water and land? Thus, before initiating a public discussion, further studies on the impact of global warming and climate change on food production are most probably needed. Good decision making should be based on solid information (scientific data in this case); lacking the data, how can we take (good) decisions?

Further reading

  1. What does it mean to be a scientific skeptic?
  2. Testing Public (Un)Certainty of Science, Media Representations of Global Warming
  3. Sexing up climate data
  4. Time to ask the public: Why 2 degrees?
  5. Predictions of climate impacts on fisheries can be a mirage