Beyond the Tipping Point

Positive Feedback and the Acceleration of Climate Change


We stand at a moment of choice on a journey through space and time. It is a momentary still point between time past and time to come, between historical certainty and future potentiality. Today, the whole planet is teetering on the cusp of a catastrophe, the tipping point of a bifurcation between attractor basins of global climate.

Analysis of the feedback dynamics in climate change alerts us to the existence of a bifurcation in the whole earth system. Topological presentation offers a landscape with two complex equilibrium zones. One is the stability of the Holocene epoch, its dynamics grounded in the Pleistocene, with oscillations between cold glacial and warmer inter-glacial periods controlled by variation in received solar energy. The other zone, entered via a slope of runaway climate change, is the high-temperature solution of the Anthropocene Extinction Event.

The natural tipping point between the basins has already been passed, and acceleration towards the second solution is underway. Contemporary civilisation faces the choice between continuing the current path towards catastrophe or introducing powerful negative feedback processes able to halt the runaway climate change and return the planet to its former equilibrium.