20 March 12:30-14:00 CET

Communicating Tipping Points

Harmful tipping points in the natural world pose some of the gravest threats faced by humanity. Triggering them risks severely damaging our planet’s life-support systems and the long-term stability of societies. Locking in these changes can happen sooner than we think.

Despite this urgency, tipping points remain relatively invisible in public consciousness or risk management or global governance plans.

How can the severity of tipping points science be communicated to societal stakeholders in ways that address urgency and heighten audience engagement?

What experience, guidance and insights can communicators outside of academia offer to help meet this challenge?

These questions and more will be discussed in a roundtable with expert creatives and scientists exploring how science can learn from creative communicators - and vice versa - to build a more resilient and sustainable world.

Speakers include: Colin Butfield (Studio Silverback), Johanna Hoffmann (Harvard University), Anab Jain (Superflux), Tim Kelly (Earth HQ), David Armstrong McKay (Exeter University/Earth Commission), Félix Pharand-Deschênes (Globaia).

Moderated by Maya Rebermark(Earth Commission/Future Earth)

Join AIMES, the Earth Commission, Future Earth, and the WCRP Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity for a webinar on Communicating Tipping Points as part of a series that aims to advance the knowledge about tipping points, irreversibility, and abrupt changes in the Earth system.

    The recording is available below:

    Back to series overview.

    Further readings


    David Armstrong McKay
    Exeter University/Earth Commission

    David is a Climate-Biosphere Scientist, Communicator, & Advocate, working to understand and enhance Earth system & socio-ecological resilience for an age of Climate and Ecological crisis.

    He is based in Brighton, England, and is working as a Research Impact Fellow at the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute helping to lead the Global Tipping Points Report and working with the Earth Commission to set safe and just Earth system boundaries. David is also an associated researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre, and does a bit of freelance research consulting and science communication via Georesilience Analytics.

    He is fascinated by the co-evolution of the Earth, life, and human societies as complex and dynamic systems, and what this means for our future. Particular topics of focus include climate tipping points and feedbacks, drivers and indicators of ecological resilience, and the sustainability of local to global food systems.

    Read more

    Colin Butfield
    Studio Silverback

    Colin is a former executive director, specialising in communications, at the international conservation charity WWF (the Worldwide Fund for Nature). He worked with Silverback to conceive and produce the ground-breaking series Our Planet for Netflix, its accompanying digital Halo project and David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.

    Read more

    Johanna Hofman
    Harvard University

    Johanna Hoffman is an urbanist working in the space between design, planning, fiction, and futures. She specializes in using speculative futures tools to enhance collaborative capacities in urban planning and policy development. A founder of the research and action institute Design for Adaptation, she uses strategic planning and speculative practice to help communities, cities, and organizations survey the impacts of potential futures and spur proactive adaptation. 

    She holds an MLA in landscape architecture and environmental planning from UC Berkeley and has been a fellow at institutions including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the European Futures Observatory, the Berggruen Institute, and USC. Her book, Speculative Futures: Design Approaches to Navigate Change, Foster Resilience, and Co-Create the Cities We Need, was published in the fall of 2022. Her current research explores spatial visualization tactics to support collaborative, complex decision-making about adaptive urban futures.

    Read more

    Anab Jain

    Anab Jain is a designer, futurist and educator. She is the co-founder of Superflux, a pioneering speculative design and experiential futures company in London, UK, working for clients and commissioners such as V&A, Google, Red Cross, UNDP, IKEA, Deepmind and many more. Anab has delivered prolific talks at TED, Skoll, NEXT, House of Lords and House of Commons UK, and shown work at MoMA New York, V&A London, National Museum of China and Museum of the Future Dubai. Profiles on Anab and Superflux can be found in BBC Radio 4, Wall Street Journal, Business Insider and Financial Times. 

    Anab and Jon, co-founders of Superflux have recently been awarded Royal Designers for Industry in speculative design, UK’s highest accolade for design, and has received an honorary doctorate from University of Arts London for her contributions to the field. 

    For the last eight years, Anab has served as Professor for Design Investigations at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Her hope is to instill a culture of radical enquiry in her students, so they can become active designers-translators-catalysts for a complex and uncertain world. 

    Anab's work can be found at

    Read more

    Tim Kelly
    Earth HQ

    Tim Kelly is Executive Director of Earth HQ, the media arm of the Global Commons Alliance, an unprecedented partnership of more than 50 of the world’s most forward-looking organizations in philanthropy, science, business and advocacy. Their goal is to create the most powerful network to scale science-based action to protect people and planet. 

    Previously, Tim was a media executive, Emmy Award-winning film producer, and former President of the National Geographic Society. He also serves as Co-founder of Planet3, an game-based EdTech climate solutions platform. In addition, Tim serves on the US Board of IUCN, the Board of the African wilderness reserve Great Plains Conservation Trust, and on the Board of the environmental science journalism organization,, and on the Board of the American Prairie Reserve helping to build a 3M acre wilderness reserve in Eastern Montana. As President of the National Geographic Society, Tim transitioned the primarily print-based organization to a global multimedia force and engineered the launch of the National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Films, and a wide array of digital media products.

    Tim Kelly was appointed President of the National Geographic Society in 2010. Prior to that, he led National Geographic as President and CEO of National Geographic Ventures, and President of National Geographic Television. He became the youngest Trustee of the Society and under his lead, the highly acclaimed National Geographic Television production unit would go on to win over 135 Emmy Awards and create programming that served as the cornerstone for the launch of the National Geographic cable networks. Kelly went on to create National Geographic Films, which won an Academy Award for “March of the Penguins” and earned an all-time documentary box office record of $77 million in 2005. Kelly conceived and developed the National Geographic Channel in 2001, launching first in Europe, and then rapidly expanding distribution around the globe. Today, the Channel is seen in 165 countries, in 35 languages, by 400 million people and has contributed to National Geographic ranking consistently as one of the top five global media brands.

    Read more

    All you need to know

    This event is part of a series of online discussions aims to advance the knowledge about tipping elements, irreversibility, and abrupt changes in the Earth system. It supports efforts to increase consistency in treatment of tipping elements in the scientific community, develop a research agenda, and design joint experiments and ideas for a Tipping Element Model Intercomparison Project (TipMip).

    This discussion series is a joint activity of the Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES) global research project of Future Earth, the Earth Commission Working Group 1 Earth and Human Systems Intercomparison Modelling Project (EHSMIP) under the Global Commons Alliance and the Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity of World Climate Research Program (WCRP).


    Organized by

    Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES)

    The Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES) project is an international network of Earth system scientists and scholars that seek to develop innovative, interdisciplinary ways to understand the complexity of the natural world and its interactions with human activities. AIMES is a global research project of Future Earth.

    Earth Commission

    The Earth Commission is a major scientific assessment, hosted by Future Earth, to define a safe and just corridor for people and planet. The Commission will inform the creation of science-based targets, the “1.5-degree equivalents”, to help maintain and protect critical global commons – our shared climate, land, biodiversity, freshwater, atmosphere and oceans. The Earth Commission is an international team of leading natural and social scientists and five working groups of additional experts. It forms the scientific cornerstone of the Global Commons Alliance.

    Future Earth

    Future Earth is a global network of scientists, researchers, and innovators collaborating for a more sustainable planet. Future Earth initiates and supports international collaboration between researchers and stakeholders to identify and generate the integrated knowledge needed for successful transformations towards societies that provide good and fair lives for all within a stable and resilient Earth system. Future Earth is the host of the Earth Commission.

    International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

    International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)is an international research institute that advances systems analysis and applies its research methods to identify policy solutions to reduce human footprints, enhance the resilience of natural and socioeconomic systems, and help achieve the sustainable development goals.

    Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

    The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is advancing the frontier of integrated research for global sustainability, and for a safe and just climate future. A member of the Leibniz Association, the institute is based in Potsdam, Brandenburg and connected with the global scientific community. Drawing on excellent research, PIK provides relevant scientific advice for policy decision-making. The institute’s international staff of about 400 is led by a committed interdisciplinary team of Directors.

    University of Exeter, Global Systems Institute

    The Global Systems Institute (GSI) is thought-leading in understanding global changes, solving global challenges and helping create a flourishing future world together, through transformative research, education and impact. GSI's aim is to work with others to secure a flourishing future for humanity as an integral part of a life-sustaining Earth system. GSI's aim to be a ‘go to’ place for global change researchers from around the world, bringing them together with industry, policymakers, students and other stakeholders to tackle shared problems, and acting as a catalyst that enables translation of this research into applications that deliver tangible and sustainable social and ecological benefit.

    WCRP Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity.

    The Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity is an exploration of the routes to “safe landing” spaces for human and natural systems. It will explore future pathways that avoid dangerous climate change while at the same time contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those of climate action, zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, and healthy ecosystems above and below water. The relevant time scale is multi-decadal to millennial.

    World Climate Research Programme

    The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) leads the way in addressing frontier scientific questions related to the coupled climate system — questions that are too large and too complex to be tackled by a single nation, agency or scientific discipline. Through international science coordination and partnerships, WCRP contributes to advancing our understanding of the multi-scale dynamic interactions between natural and social systems that affect climate.