Dear visitor,

Seesaw Built With Toy Bricks
Fig. 1: Seesaw Built With Toy Bricks

welcome to this website on tipping points!

The “Tipping Points” project is a contribution to the supporting programme of the ZKM exhibition “Critical Zones” via the “Artists4Future Karlsruhe” network initiative. It aims at depicting and clarifying one of the most essential aspects of climate change, namely demonstrating why returning back to previous state after passing a critical point is extremely hard. Using an extra primed seesaw as illustrative example, it demonstrates the effect of so-called “hysteresis”: After having passed the point when the seesaw tips over onto the other side, the effort for restoring the original state is multiple times hight than the effort that was carried out to get into the changed state. Technically, the hysteresis effect is achieved with a free rolling ball integrated into the inner parts of the seesaw, thus serving as additional, feeding back mass.

Screenshot of TippingPoints App v0.1
Fig. 2: Screenshot of TippingPoints App v0.1

Translated to climate change, the hysteresis means that after having emitted some specific amount of carbon dioxid (CO₂) into our environment, it will not at all be sufficient to revert the effect by removing the overshoot amount of CO₂. Instead, a multiple of that amount would have to be removed from the air, which is an obviously non-feasible scenario, given the way, our current economic system works, as illustrated by the fact that we fail to fulfill even the weakest climate goals.

Following and evaluating incountable discssions in social media, I have come to the conclusion that obviously only few people, mostly technical experts, have an idea about the hysteresis effect and its impact on how to deal with climate change, thus resulting in invalid assumptions in most discussions. Even most decision-makers in politics and economy do not at all seem to grasp what a hysteresis is and what impacts it has, thus leading to invalid assumptions for decision memos and finally resulting in fatal decisions that will entail irreversible destruction of our environment referring to the era of our human civilzation and culture.

This is where the “Tipping Points” project comes in with illustrative elucidation on technical aspects, in order to counteract the threatening irreversible destruction.