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Climate change: the tipping point debate

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Professor John Naughton.

This session is a moderated conversation between two leading environment correspondents who are currently Wolfson Press Fellows: Paul Brown (formerly Guardian Environment Correspondent) and Frank McDonald (Environment Editor, the Irish Times). The moderator is Joe Smith of the Open University and Clare Hall.


Now that there’s a consensus that human activity is causing global warming, the debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that humanity may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend. This concern is exacerbated by the thought that the planet may reach a ‘tipping point’ – i.e. a point where various aspects of warming begin to reinforce one another making the situation irreversible.

The “tipping point” scenario has begun to concern many prominent researchers in the field. While scientists remain uncertain about when such a point might occur, many claim it is urgent that governments must cut global carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent over the next 50 years or risk the triggering of irreversible changes.

Paul Brown and Frank McDonald have covered the climate change debate for many years, and are thoroughly familiar with the science, the issues and the policymakers involved. In this public conversation, they focus on the question of whether there is a danger that we will indeed reach a tipping point – or even whether humanity might already (as James Lovelock has argued) have passed it.

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This talk is part of the Wolfson Press Fellowship series.

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