Video explaining runaway climate change

I have often spent time thinking about the danger of a tipping point into runaway climate change – particularly about the ways in which the concept can be conveyed to non-experts in a comprehensible manner. This eleven minute video does a good job. The script, with peer-reviewed references and additional information is at

Here are some related prior posts:

I discovered the video linked above through this Gristmill post.

[Update: 4 February 2009] Here is a post on the danger of self-amplifying, runaway climate change: Is runaway climate change possible? Hansen’s take.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

2 thoughts on “Video explaining runaway climate change”

  1. Will natural methane emissions enhance
    man made emissions?

    Substantial quantities of methane are emitted
    naturally from wetlands, and this emission is
    expected to change as wetlands change. Changing
    rainfall patterns will cause some wetland areas to
    increase in extent, others to decrease, and increases
    in temperature will act to increase emissions from
    wetlands. One version of the Hadley Centre climate
    model includes a description of wetland methane,
    and this predicts an increase in natural wetland
    emissions by the end of the century equivalent to
    the amount of man-made emissions projected for
    that time, thus leading to a more rapid rise in
    methane concentrations, and hence warming.

    On the other hand, the chemical reactions in the
    atmosphere which destroy methane are expected to
    become more efficient in future, largely as a result
    of increased water vapour. This will act as a
    negative feedback on methane amounts.

    Methane is also stored in permafrost, and it is likely
    that some of this will be released as surface warming
    extends into the permafrost and begins to melt it.

    Finally, huge amounts of methane are locked up in
    methane hydrates (methane clathrates) in the oceans.
    They are currently at high enough pressures and
    temperatures to make them very stable. However,
    penetration of greenhouse effect heating into the
    oceans may destabilise them and allow some of the
    methane to escape into the atmosphere. The
    potential for this to happen is very poorly understood.
    There is concern that this may be another positive
    feedback not yet included in models, although there
    is little evidence for this from the behaviour of
    methane during the large temperature swings
    between ice ages and interglacials, and in particular
    over the last 50,000 years.

    Climate change and the greenhouse effect
    A briefing from the Hadley Centre
    December 2005

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *