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Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet Hardcover – January 22, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Lynas has gathered global-warming information from an array of authoritative scientists: geologists, glaciologists, oceanographers, climate scientists, and paleoclimatologists, as well as "major scientific projections" from computer modelers. He divides his findings into six main chapters representing the consequences of a one- to six-degree shift in temperature rise. More factual than hysterical and using accessible language, the author portrays a sobering, but broad and fascinating, view of the problem. He discusses not only the environmental consequences of melting icecaps, ocean warming, coral reef bleaching, CO2 emissions, deforestation, and severe weather, but also cultural and economic reverberations-the result of population shifts, animal migrations, and societal collapse. Through computer-modeling simulations he looks back into the past (the Pliocene, the Mayan civilization) and projects into the future for CO2 comparisons. His premise: the problem is now at global scale and will not just impact the disappearance of one group alone as it did the Maya. Claiming that solutions must be political, and that it is too late for quick fixes using renewable energy sources or technology, he concludes with some cautionary possible solutions: relocalization of goods and services, less consumption, global-scale carbon rationing, and a "2 degree increase target." Anyone studying climate change will find this a helpful reference as much current research has been precompiled and interpreted within one resource.—Jodi Mitchell, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Mark Lynas, a journalist, campaigner, and broadcast commentator on environmental issues, is the author of High Tide: News from a Warming World. He is a contributor to periodicals including New Statesman, Ecologist, Granta, and Geographical, and to the Guardian and Observer newspapers in the United Kingdom.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142620213X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426202131
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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218 of 242 people found the following review helpful By Carl Flygare on January 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
By 2100 earth will warm between 1.4° and 5.8° C (2.52° to 10.44° F) according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Although this sounds like a sunny and pleasant upside to vacation weather forecasts, as "Six Degrees Our Future on a Hotter Planet" by Mark Lynas soberly notes, the consequences range from the inconvenient to the inconceivable as massive rockslides reshape the Alps, atoll nations across the Pacific are inundated, species extinction accelerates, and entire ecosystems collapse. The web of life - humanity's safety net - will disappear, stranding us on an essentially alien planet.

Denialism invites devastation on a scale last seen during the Permian-Triassic (P-Tr) extinction event, and business or politics as usual will impose surrogate suicide on our children and grandchildren. Degree by degree "Six Degrees" explains the mechanisms behind global warming and the direct consequences of our actions (or inactions). From sophisticated and increasingly refined computer models, to the latest geological and paleontological evidence, Lynas compellingly argues that anthropomorphic climate change is a new and unprecedented challenge verging on calamity, not a routine and recurrent phenomenon due to cyclical natural causes.

From bleached and dying tropical coral reefs to polar bears that will melt into history along with the glaciers and ice flows they called home, the future is dire unless immediate, but achievable steps are taken. Some species may survive by migrating, but most will have nowhere to migrate to. Small changes result in sizeable impacts - a mere 3° C increase will turn the American Midwest, the world's breadbasket, and the Amazon Basin which supplies 20% of earth's fresh water, into arid wasteland.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By John C. Wiegard VINE VOICE on February 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
British journalist Mark Lynas approaches climate change here through the method of describing the negative effects on our planet of six degrees of temperature rise. Each new chapter is a rise of one degree. By the time you reach six degrees, well, it makes Al Gore look like a crazy optimist.
The disappearance of arctic summer ice, the eventual flooding of coastal communities from sea level rise, the prospects of widespread droughts including the western USA, are all exptremely disturbing ideas held by a majority of climatologists.
This is a good summary of where we are with climate science right now, as Lynas bases his book on up to date searching of the science literature. The only outdated thing I could find was his failure to mention the political defeat of the Howard government in Australia partly due to public concern there about drought caused by climate change. Climate science has advanced greatly in the past few years, so do not base your views on something five years old!

My only criticism of this book is that the structure Lynas imposes is barely able to handle the massive amount of material. But I still rate it a firm four stars because of the timeliness and breadth of coverage. Too many of us are ill informed on this topic in an election year that may determine our approach to the problem for the next eight years. Too many of us fail to accept the basic concept explored by Lynas- that climate change is cumulative. Too many of us murmur smugly that we are not going to devote any energy or money to a problem that will kick in mostly after we die of old age.
Do you plan to have grandkids? I do. Read this.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Balbach on February 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
[This is a review of the English edition (June 2007). The American edition (2008) was edited by Lynas to be a bit more optimistic.]

The IPCC says that in the 21st century global warming could bring temperatures anywhere from 1 to 6 degrees hotter. Lynas uses peer-reviewed scientific literature to show what these temperature rises could mean. In 6 chapters he outlines 6 degrees. Once temps get past 2 or 3 degrees, like a wild fire burning out of control, the planet could continue to heat up no matter we do because nature starts releasing massive stores of CO2 from burning forests, melting tundra, warming oceans etc..

This is the first comprehensive attempt I have seen that outlines what a warmer world could be like, relying entirely on the most recent peer reviewed scientific literature. No one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, these are not things that will happen exactly as describes, but they have already happened in the past when temperatures reached this high, therefore there is a percentage-possibility of them happening again in similar ways - not something to be discounted - in the same way we buy fire insurance or flood insurance, even if the chance of a fire or flood is very small, we know from history they do happen.

Lynas' book is one part in the learning curve of global warming, it could be read in conjunction with a couple other books out of England recently, such as George Monbiot's Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, which offers practical solutions to keep temps below 2 or 3 degrees, and
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