Introduction Basics of Climate Change Dangers of Linear Thinking Human • Policy • Economy Outlook Appendix • Publisher's Corner
Growth Curves
Water Lily Pond
Pond Curves
Expection Curve
Tough Luck!
Limits of Growth
Positive Feedback
Club of Rome
Amazon Region
Chain Reaction

Positive Feedback

Positive feedback refers to a concept from cybernetics. Positive feedback occurs when systems in connection with each other reciprocally amplify their effects[38].

Dangerous Limitations to the Possibilities for Human Intervention

The prior pages represent how dangerous linear thinking is with regard to the evaluation of the consequences of climate change.

Global warming does not describe a separate nonlinear process, but rather a complex structure of nonlinear processes and effects, which reciprocally intensify through positive feedback. The more the temperature level of the atmosphere increases, the more processes supply positive feedback to each other and to global warming.

At a particular, critical temperature level, the nonlinear processes exceed a limit beyond which human intervention to stop the associated consequences is no longer physically possible. Thereafter, the nonlinear processes amplify through positive feedback, until they may possibly be brought to a halt by natural negative feedback.

Such negative feedback[39] could possibly be triggered by the standstill of the Gulf Stream as a result of climate change, thus causing a sudden cooling. Whether global warming would then come to a standstill, however, cannot be clearly foreseen.

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