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Social tipping points and Earth systems dynamics

Bentley, R.A.; Maddison, E.J.; Ranner, P.H.; Bissell, J.J.; Caiado, C.C.C.S.; Bhatanacharoen, P.; Clark, T.; Botha, M.; Akinbami, F.; Hollow, M.; Michie, R.; Huntley, B.; Curtis, S.E.; Garnett, P.R.

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R.A. Bentley

E.J. Maddison

P.H. Ranner

J.J. Bissell

P. Bhatanacharoen

T. Clark

F. Akinbami

M. Hollow

R. Michie

B. Huntley

S.E. Curtis

P.R. Garnett



Recently, Early Warning Signals (EWS) have been developed to predict tipping points in Earth Systems. This discussion highlights the potential to apply EWS to human social and economic systems, which may also undergo similar critical transitions. Social tipping points are particularly difficult to predict, however, and the current formulation of EWS, based on a physical system analogy, may be insufficient. As an alternative set of EWS for social systems, we join with other authors encouraging a focus on heterogeneity, connectivity through social networks and individual thresholds to change.


Bentley, R., Maddison, E., Ranner, P., Bissell, J., Caiado, C., Bhatanacharoen, P., …Garnett, P. (2014). Social tipping points and Earth systems dynamics. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 2, Article 35.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Aug 19, 2014
Deposit Date Aug 5, 2014
Publicly Available Date Aug 21, 2014
Journal Frontiers in Environmental Science
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Article Number 35
Keywords Ecological breakdown, Social collapse, Paleoecology, Paleoclimatology, Research synergies.


Published Journal Article (700 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014 Bentley, Maddison, Ranner, Bissell, Caiado, Bhatanacharoen, Clark, Botha, Akinbami, Hollow, Michie, Huntley, Curtis and Garnett. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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