Scientists have begun researching whether the worst effects of climate change can no longer be avoided

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      The month of July 2018 was a scary one for people who care about the planet that we're leaving our children.

      "All-time hottest temperature records set all over the world this week," reads a July 6 headline in the U.K.'s Evening Standard.

      Nearly a month later, the situation hadn't changed. "Temperatures near or pass all-time records in Europe as another heat wave blasts the continent," reads a July 27 headline in the Washington Post.

      From July 20 in New York magazine: "A Global Heat Wave Has Set the Arctic Circle on Fire".

      At a local level, the stories were perhaps even scarier.

      "California’s Carr Fire may have unleashed the most intense fire tornado ever observed in the U.S.," reads an August 3 headline in the Washington Post.

      "Record-Smashing Heat Wave Kills 33 in Quebec," the New York Times reported on July 5.

      And from the Japan Times today (August 7): "Record 70,000 people rushed to hospitals since April 30 amid scorching Japan heat wave".

      The summer of 2017 was the worst year for B.C. wildfires in generations. The year before, Canada lost a large section of an entire city when a wildfire burned more than 2,400 homes in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Some 88,000 people were forced to evacuate. It was 458 days before the last of the fire was extinguished.

      In 2018, dry conditions across B.C. again have firefighters on edge. "Scorching hot weather expected to return this week in Metro Vancouver," CTV News reported on August 6.

      Vice summed it all up the way that Vice will: "Planet at Risk of Heading Towards Apocalyptic," its August 6 headline reads.

      Climate change is getting real.

      A study published August 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences warns that this global state of routine disaster has reached a high risk of becoming permanent.

      Titled "Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene," the paper explores whether there exists a line for the planet at which the worst effects of climate change can no longer be avoided, and asks if humans have already crossed it.

      It discusses "tipping elements" for climate change. The melting of once-permanent glaciers covering Greenland, for example, or the release of permafrost that for hundreds of years has trapped massive amounts of methane gas in Earth's far Northern Hemisphere.

      If such elements of the Earth's ecosystem are "tipped"—if the glaciers disappear and can no longer reflect some of the sun's rays back into space, and if permafrost melts and releases the large amounts of greenhouse gases they've kept in the ground for so many years—even human's most radical measures designed to avert runaway global warming will prove futile.

      The summer of 2018 has been a depressing time for extreme-weather and climate-change headlines.
      Travis Lupick

      "These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another," Johan Rockström​, a co-author of the paper and executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, told CBC News.

      "It may be very difficult or impossible to stop the whole row of dominoes from tumbling over. Places on Earth will become uninhabitable."