Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Tipping Points

Miriam Huitric illustrates the meaning of the concept "tipping point".
8.8
I’m whipping some cream for a cake. But what I want to talk about now is tipping points, and how these matter. As we change the system, slowly, as we disturb it, as I was drawing in the complex adaptive system- -we see that we can actually tip it beyond a tipping point, so it changes its character- -and changes to a new system. In fact… I haven’t been paying attention. I have turned my cream into butter. I’ve passed the tipping point, because my butter will not be able to backtrack into being cream. I will not be able to serve whipped cream with my cake. And that is the seriousness of tipping points. They are irreversible.
71.4
They are either impossible or too expensive to turn back- -or will only be able to turn back over long periods of time. That means that for humans, it’s too long to wait. And with them, we often lose things that we need and rely on. In fact, let’s go and see what this looks like out in nature.

In this video, whipping cream is used to demonstrate a few aspects about tipping points: that the different states of the “system” – in this case the cream – are very different, that crossing the tipping point can happen quickly and that the change is irreversible.

This video was filmed on location in a kitchen in Stockholm, Sweden.

This article is from the free online

Taking on the Climate Crisis with Social Change

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now