In the just published PAGES issue of Past Global Changes there is a science highlight on Tipping points or “Lessons from the Past for the Future” as the editorial suggests. In ten short 2-page contributions the most up-to-date ideas about past climatic transitions are highlighted together with examples from ecological and socio-ecological abrupt shifts. We have contributed in this issue a short piece on how the shift of the Sahara has been shaping our thinking about abrupt change.
In a short conceptual paper that appeared this month in TREE, we play around with the idea that depending on the scale and the rate of change of ecological systems, responses to crossing tipping points may differ widely. Ecosystems without tipping points may appear hysteretic, whereas hysteretic systems may offer a window of opportunity for averting a regime shift even after having passed their tipping point. Such insights may change the way ecosystem managers and policy makers view common practices in a changing world.