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Courtney Lindwall


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, English Language Arts

Resource Type

  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus


Climate Tipping Points are Closer Than Once Thought

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  • This article details some of the climate tipping points that could be crossed in the near future and the effects they could have on the planet. 
  • Students will learn about the risks of climate tipping points to ocean circulation patterns, ice sheets, forests, and coral reefs. 
Teaching Tips


  • The images and graphics in the article may support and improve comprehension.
  • Students will be able to explore additional information from the IPCC or journal articles that are linked in the article.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students would benefit from a general understanding of what climate tipping points are and the positive feedback loops that may contribute to them. 


  • Cross-curricular connections can be made in health classes that are learning about how human health may be affected by climate change or in social studies classes discussing the location and local effects of the different tipping points around the globe. 
  • After reading, have students work individually or in groups to research one of the tipping points from the article.
  • As an extension, curate a list of tipping points and encourage students to "adopt" one and advocate for increased knowledge in their social circles.
  • Earth science classes can use this to support lessons about global wind circulation patterns, ocean circulation patterns and drivers of the ocean conveyor belt, and sea level rise.
  • Biology classes can use this article to connect to lessons about methane, the carbon cycle, positive feedback loops, arctic ecosystems, forest ecology, and marine ecosystems.
Scientist Notes
This article, provided by the Natural Resource Defense Council, discusses what an increase in temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius could mean for the Earth. A thorough discussion on global warming is included and covers the effects global warming has on the Earth. The "tipping points" are defined and discussed along with the relationship to more than a dozen natural systems that can be impacted. Scenarios are detailed for permafrost, ice sheets, the Gulf Stream, boreal forests, the Amazon rainforest and coral reefs. This article would be a great addition to a classroom discussion about the effects of climate change and what can happen if action is not taken. The resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.CR.11–12.1 Accurately cite a range of thorough textual evidence and make relevant connections to strongly support a comprehensive analysis of multiple aspects of what an informational text says explicitly and inferentially, as well as interpretations of the text.
      • RI.CI.11–12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of an informational text and analyze how they are developed and refined over the course of a text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex account or analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
      • RI.IT.11–12.3 Analyze the impact of an author's choices as they develop ideas throughout the text regarding a complex set of ideas or sequence of events, and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop.
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