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Global Warming: Beyond the Tipping Point

Lemonick, Michael D. “Global Warming: Beyond the Tipping Point.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. 4th custom ed. for York College. Ed. Laurence Behrens, and Leonard J. Rosen. New York: Pearson, 2011. 283-288.

Terms and Allusions

Charney Sensitivity

It refers to the standard modern estimate of climate sensitivity for how much the global mean temperature will rise if atmospheric CO2 is doubled from its preindustrial levels, before people began burning coal and oil on a grand scale. In the mid-1800s carbon dioxide concentrations stood at about 280 ppm. If it is doubled to 560 ppm, the Charney sensitivity calculation estimates that temperatures should rise about three degrees C.  Charney Sensitivity originated with a committee on anthropogenic global warming convened in 1979 by the National Academy of Sciences and chaired by Jule Charney.  However, this calculation is wrong because it assumes that the land surface, ice sheets and atmospheric composition stay the same.


monochromatic   - adj.  having only one color

variable  - adj.  capable of being changed; n. something that can change and affect the result

sedimentary  adj. – of substances that have been left by water, wind or ice and have become pressed together through time

equilibrium – n.  balance

oscillate – v. to move continuously from side to side; to continuously change feelings, opinions or decisions

lubricate – v. to put oil on the parts of machine that makes them move more smoothly; to make it easier for something to happen

catastrophic – adj.  disastrous; causing a lot of damage

amplify – v.  to make sounds louder; to make larger; to give it more emphasis

lurk -  v. to wait, sometimes hiding, in order to frighten, or attack

reservoir – n. an artificial or natural lake where water is stored

retrofit – v. to change or improve something such as a machine or a building

deforestation – n. removing trees

reforestation – n.  regrowing trees

plausibility – n. apparent validity

Vocabulary Exercise

Fill in the blanks with the words chosen from the following:

plausibility           lurk       equilibrium         catastrophic             oscillate

lubricate          reservoir        reforestation


1.  Allow yourself a transition period in which it is okay to ___________  between holding on and letting go.

2. Our ________  programs have helped increase biodiversity and improve the environment.

3. Merely promising to cut deficits lacks ___________.

4 Now it is a beautiful place on the bank of the Kiev __________  and all the metal constructions add even more charm to the place.

5. No one was hurt, but the official state report said the incident could have been ________.

6. The ________ maintained between different security agencies was designed to prevent the domination of any one of them.

7. Large community meals might have served to _______ social connections and alleviate tensions.

8. Memories of a far more primitive world _______  deeply within the human subconscious.



1. oscillate      2. reforestation    3. plausibility       4. reservoir       5. catastrophic

6. equilibrium      7. lubricate              8. lurk