For many years there has been concern about what will happen to the various ocean currents, as the earth and the oceans warm. One of the currents that has the biggest positive effect is the Gulf stream – and scientists warn that the loss of this current could have devastating effects on the world and must not be allowed to happen.
Unfortunately, we are not changing our habits very much at all, and certainly not fast enough.
The currents are already at their slowest for 1600 years a recent study has shown.
The end of this current would have huge effects. From disrupting the rains which water crops that billions of people rely on for food (in India, south America and west Africa), greatly increasing storms, temperatures in Europe could fall by as much as 8 degrees, the east of north America could flood due to increasing sea levels and both the amazon rainforest and Antarctic ice sheet could collapse.
Due to the complexity of the system, those studying it cannot tell if its collapse is centuries away or just a matter of a decade or two.
This is just one of a number of climate tipping points which are concerning scientists. With each the fear is that once these changes start, they wont be stoppable as there will be a feedback loop. Another example is the thawing permafrost; as permafrost melts vast quantities of carbon are released – this further warms the climate so even more permafrost melts.