This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence. It is free to read at British Academy Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations. Tipping points are zones or thresholds of profound changes in natural or social conditions with very considerable and largely unforecastable consequences. Tipping points may be dangerous for societies and economies, especially if the prevailing governing arrangements are not designed either to anticipate them or adapt to their arrival. Tipping points can also be transformational of cultures and behaviours so that societies can learn to adapt and to alter their outlooks and mores in favour of accommodating to more sustainable ways of living. This volume examines scientific, economic and social analyses of tipping points, and the spiritual and creative approaches to identifying and anticipating them. The authors focus on climate change, ice melt, tropical forest drying and alterations in oceanic and atmospheric circulations.
They also look closely at various aspects of human use of the planet, especially food production, and at the loss of biodiversity, where alterations to natural cycles may be creating convulsive couplings of tipping points. They survey the various institutional aspects of politics, economics, culture and religion to see why such dangers persist.