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Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet [Format Kindle]

Mark Lynas

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An eye-opening and vital account of the future of our earth and our civilisation if current rates of global warming persist, by the highly acclaimed author of ‘High Tide’.

Picture yourself a few decades from now, in a world in which average temperatures are three degrees higher than they are now. On the edge of Greenland, rivers ten times the size of the Amazon are gushing off the ice sheet into the north Atlantic. Displaced victims of North Africa's drought establish a new colony on Greenland's southern tip, one of the few inhabitable areas not already crowded with environmental refugees. Vast pumping systems keep the water out of most of Holland, but the residents of Bangladesh and the Nile Delta enjoy no such protection. Meanwhile, in New York, a Category 5-plus superstorm pushes through the narrows between Staten Island and Brooklyn, devastating waterside areas from Long Island to Manhattan. Pakistan, crippled by drought brought on by disappearing Himalayan glaciers, sees 27 million farmers flee to refugee camps in neighbouring India. Its desperate government prepares a last-ditch attempt to increase the flow of the Indus river by bombing half-constructed Indian dams in Kashmir. The Pakistani president authorises the use of nuclear weapons in the case of an Indian military counter-strike. But the biggest story of all comes from South America, where a conflagration of truly epic proportions has begun to consume the Amazon…

Alien as it all sounds, Mark Lynas's incredible new book is not science-fiction; nor is it sensationalist. The six degrees of the title refer to the terrifying possibility that average temperatures will rise by up to six degrees within the next hundred years. This is the first time we have had a reliable picture of how the collapse of our civilisation will unfold unless urgent action is taken.

Most vitally, Lynas's book serves to highlight the fact that the world of 2100 doesn't have to be one of horror and chaos. With a little foresight, some intelligent strategic planning, and a reasonable dose of good luck, we can at least halt the catastrophic trend into which we have fallen. But the time to act is now.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5  13 commentaires
20 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Disturbing and provocative 24 novembre 2007
Par Paul Vitols - Publié sur
Using a solid, conservative methodology, the author paints a frightening picture of the climatic changes that lie before us as Earth grows hotter from greenhouse-gas emissions.

I was torn between assigning this book four stars or five. While there's nothing about this book I don't like, I didn't want to be influenced by my own conviction of the overriding importance of this topic for all of us, and have tried to grade the book purely on the basis of my reaction to it as a book.

But the topic is urgent and important, and Mark Lynas has treated it effectively and with authority. His approach was to review all the published scientific literature he could find on climate modeling and paleoclimatology. His sources therefore consist exclusively of peer-reviewed scientific papers: no pop-science books, interviews, or mass-market magazine articles. He created a database of articles and organized them into categories according to the amount of warming they discussed: 1 degree Celsius, 2 degrees Celsius, and so on up to 6 degrees.

The book builds up a picture of the heating Earth, each chapter notching the average temperature one degree higher. At 1 degree, for example, Lynas discusses the likely desertification of the American West. The great plains ranging east of the Rockies north to Saskatchewan are actually an ancient dune-field covered with a thin layer of soil held in place by plants. Climate models show its likely reversion to a more drought-stricken regime that has also existed in the ancient past. The result will be the death of the plants, and blowing away of the topsoil--just as happened with the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma in the 1930s. This new Dust Bowl will be much larger and more enduring--and where will all the people go?

That's only one heading in the 1-degree chapter; there are nine more, including the slowing or stopping of the Gulf Stream, the melting of the Arctic icecap, and the die-off of coral reefs. Then it's on to chapter 2, with 11 headings of its own. The effects he looks at are diverse, sometimes smaller, such as the extinctions of individual species, but mostly much larger, such as the severe droughts and mass migrations we can expect when the world's mountain glaciers--source of much of our drinking-water--finally disappear, as they are rapidly doing right now.

By the time we get to 6 degrees, the point is abundantly clear: we must not let this happen. At that point our planet will be ice-free, largely desert, and whipped by "hypercanes" vastly more powerful than today's strongest storms. In Lynas's personal opinion, the human species will likely survive, but it will be a small remnant, and one of only a few survivors of this great extinction event.

Still relatively buried in the scientific literature are discussions of positive-feedback loops that may--indeed likely will--lie ahead: mechanisms that will accelerate warming beyond our ability to stop or control it. One such is the melting of tundra permafrost, which will likely release methane in large quantities, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2. Another is the awesome storehouse of methane as hydrates on the continental shelves, which may be released as the oceans warm.

Based on his survey, Lynas finds that our window of opportunity to head off the worst of it is very small indeed. We have almost certainly already crossed the threshold of 2 degrees of global warming, so the first two chapters are a snapshot of how our world will look just a few years from now. Indeed, the current droughts in Atlanta, California, Portugal, Australia, and elsewhere are themselves the manifestation of the process unfolding.

Lynas sums up with a discussion of what's stopping us from acting more vigorously, as well a look at the magnitude of the task. It makes for mighty sobering reading.

His prose is vigorous, vivid, and confident. Lynas has studied the climate for years, and visited remote spots of the globe. To be sure, I found the message depressing. It's all the scarier because it's not hysterical--it's lifted right out of peer-reviewed papers. But it has woken me from my own torpor of denial. Whatever decisions we each make, we should be informed. And this book provides an especially crucial kind of information.
11 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 On the need for radical urgent action 5 décembre 2007
Par Brian Delaney - Publié sur
He certainly did his homework for this book. It was a given a very positive review on realclimatedotorg which convinced me it was worth reading. I consider myself fairly well informed on this topic but I learned a lot of useful information here. He particularly explains all the possible positive feedback mechanisms very well. Perhaps the most interesting single fact I learned was that the global temperature in the depths of the last ice-age was just 6 degrees colder than today, which makes me appreciate what a significant change we could be facing if we don't soon adopt a radically different way of life.

My quibble with this work was that he skims over the 'positive' aspects of climate change, if he mentions them at all. He briefly refers to longer growing seasons and improved productivity in the higher latitudes, and doesn't at all refer to reduced mortality from warmer winters, of which Lomborg makes much of in 'Cool It' (unscientific and not recommended), and even the IPCC mentions in its 4th review. While not in any way a climate skeptic, I was left with the feeling of not being given an opportunity to make my own evaluations, and his tone seemed a little evangelical for me at times.

In the long run, if society needs convincing of the need for radical action, I don't think this is the correct approach. Everyone's intelligence and discernment should be respected.

But I don't want to dwell on a small error in a really well-researched and engaging work. This is a fine book, a gripping read, and I recommend it.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Need more proof of climate change? Me neither, but this is good 30 octobre 2013
Par Doc jojo - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Books on climate change and global warming can be a little dry. Not this book. It's easy to read...more of a conversational style. You'll turn off your lights and monitor, unplug your chargers, and drive less from now on after reading this book.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A great overview 25 juillet 2012
Par Jeff Fecke - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
A quick, straightforward read about what different levels of warming mean for the planet. Lynas writes clearly, boils the science down into a clear narrative, and illustrates just what our current use of CO2 could mean for our children. Can't recommend enough.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Scary but important to any one with a pulse. 9 novembre 2014
Par Holden - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This is a critical read for anybody planning to survive the 21st century. Mr. Lynas has exhaustively collected the research data and scientific reports on global climate change and pre historical events we know have actually happened, and fashioned this examination of the most probable results to our climate as we sustain each of six degrees celsius global temperature rise. While our planetary policies seem to accept the inevitable 2 degree celsius rise by 2050 because of the environmental damage we have already caused, he demonstrates this seemingly small change is only the best possible scenario and it includes some very worrisome changes. Because very little action has been taken to limit temperature and CO2 rise so far, it is clear that this goal will almost certainly be overshot in the coming century, leading to some rather catastrophic climate changes for humans to try and survive. While many good people continue to work on this knotty problem, It would seem that until our policy makers abruptly change their focus from research and rhetoric to more forceful global action against further environmental destruction, our future looks bleak indeed.
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