Positive Tipping Points: How Professor Tim Lenton is Pioneering a New Line of Climate Research

From Climate Tipping Points to Positive Tipping Points – How Professor Tim Lenton is Leading the Charge in the Fight Against Climate Change
Professor Tim Lenton

In a world where the threat of climate change looms large, it’s easy to get bogged down in the doom and gloom of it all.

But for Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, the focus isn’t on what doom might lie ahead, but on the positive tipping points that might actually save us.

Lenton is among the original group of concerned scientists that were sounding the warning bell for climate action back in the early 2000s, and much of his work has centered around climate tipping points. But a decade ago, Lenton began to explore the idea of positive tipping points – those moments when small changes can have big impacts, and society can shift towards a more sustainable future.

Positive tipping points, like Norway’s dramatic shift towards electric vehicles, are complex phenomena that require a combination of factors to work together – affordability, accessibility, and a favorable policy environment.

Tim Lenton researcher

But according to a report by Systemiq, positive tipping points could be reached before 2030 in sectors representing 90% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Lenton’s work has inspired a community of academics and researchers from all over the globe to work toward understanding and promoting positive tipping points. And for Lenton, it’s not just about shaping research, but about convening a social movement.

So how can individuals support positive tipping points?

Lenton recommends using the power of your pension to support ethical industries that are catalyzing positive change. He also suggests eating more plant-based proteins, which can liberate land while restoring nature.

And most importantly, he urges individuals to participate in democracy and use their voices to demand action on climate change.

As Lenton puts it:

“I can’t predict how it will unfold, but I think we’re a pretty resourceful species. We have a lot of qualities as well as a lot of flaws. It could go either way – that’s why I work on both sides of the coin.”

With positive tipping points on the horizon, there is reason for hope – and for action.