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Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet [Paperback]

Mark Lynas
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Feb 2008

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 title, ‘Six Degrees’, refers 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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Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet + Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity + The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (4 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007209053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007209057
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘Scientists predict that global temperatures will rise by between one and six degrees over the course of this century and Mark Lynas paints a chilling, degree-by-degree picture of the devastation likely to ensue unless we act now…“Six Degrees” is a rousing and vivid plea to choose a different future.’ Daily Mail

‘The saga of how, in the world as imagined by thousands of computer-modelling studies, global warming kicks in degree by degree. “Six Degrees”, I tell you now, is terrifying.’ Sunday Times

‘Brilliant and higly readable.’ Sunday Times

From the Publisher

WINNER OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE PRIZE 2008

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and gripping read 16 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback
I was given this by a friend who accidently purchased two copies with her Amazon 'one click'! I took it on holiday to Brasil with me (!) and loved it. I thought it was a well written book that presented some otherwise impossible to understand data in an entertaining and enjoyable way (if reading about how the end of the human race might look like can be called enjoyable). It is meant to be an emotive book as the author does want you to get off your behind and do something about it - and to do it NOW. So I guess he has picked and chosen research to back up his beliefs. I don't have a problem with this and thought the author was honest about the fact that no one really knows what is going to happen and the models aren't predictions but are just possible scenarios. The information I found most interesting was about when/how oil was formed (and how this cooled the earth all those years ago) and how by burning it we are basically reheating the planet. If anything this book made me feel less guilty about forgetting to recyle every scrap of cardboard or taking a long haul flight for a holiday, and made me more aware that if governments through-out the world keep putting economic growth first on their agenda then quite frankly it's not looking good.
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67 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Six steps to some surprises 19 Aug 2007
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
It's hard to understand how there could be any climate change "sceptics" remaining. Perhaps they have failed to comprehend the long view of what the circumstances are. What does an increase in global temperatures really mean? Mark Lynas has culled the massive number of reports on the topic and here woven them into a comprehensive picture of likely futures for this planet. In this effective work, he lines out what the changes in our biosphere are likely to be over the next decades. It's a chilling account and one that should be in the hands of every industrialist, policy-maker and tax-paying consumer.

Using the data supplied by his extensive resources, Lynas depicts global and regional changes in environment due to increase over time. His temperature range selection is driven by the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC's reports indicate a six degree Celsius increase over the next century. Integrating the scientific research on the biosphere, IPCC is able to review existing and past conditions and those likely to ensue in the future. Lynas synthesizes the reports to present a picture of conditions likely with each degree of heat will lead to over time. The first degree is typified by examples of drought. The Great Plains of the US trans-Mississippi is already showing signs of that dry-out. The author explains that drought in one place may be off-set by rainstorms elsewhere. Heat over land desiccates, but heat over water increases evaporation leading to greater precipitation. Even with but a single step up in temperature, the rains may be intense in some locales. This seems to be occurring already, with ravaging storms displacing many refugees. Katrina is almost certainly an example of the new environment.
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking! 16 April 2007
Format:Paperback
The premise for the book is immediately appealing- the amount of current research out there to grasp can be daunting (in number and complexity) to say the least but Lynas has done all the hard work and compiled a sort of global overview of what we can expect in the near future- degree by frightening degree. There are a few things that make this book 5 stars to me- firstly, it's written the way science literature should be- every statement backed up with a source. So just when you think he's laying on the rhetoric a little heavy, i.e. global methane fireballs, it's backed up in the substantial (to say the VERY least) list of references. Secondly, his style is never dreamily optimistic, nor is it tiringly depressing- it's written with kind of a straightforward urgency that is very inspiring. Lastly, while being a palaeoclimate student, i get bogged down in relentless detailed science, which he managed to tactfully sidestep here while pointing in the right direction for further detailed reading. Also, maybe it's just me, but the 6th chapter seems like a tactful stab at the IPCC's prediction of a possible 6 degree increase in ave temp as the chapter is nothing short of apocalyptic hell on earth. Sort of like them saying: "mmm, climate is changing- we can expect anything from higher sea levels and economic strain to a fiery hellish mass extinction." Best book i've read in a long time, and probably one i'll revisit many times in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative 7 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am neither a green hippie or a climate change denier so I read this with an open mind.

This book is well written, each chapter covers the possibilities based on each 1 degree rise in temperature. By the end it does become a little tedious but I enjoyed the book and found its arguments compelling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading 26 Feb 2011
By NickyD
Format:Paperback
This book should be read by everyone who cares what happens to humanity and our planet. Utterly terrifying, but presented in a reasoned and scientific way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary stuff 15 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read many climate change books and this is up there with the best. I initially distrusted the book because it was written by a journalist and not a scientist but it soon becomes clear that this is far more a science book than a ranting journo. The author skilfully draws together his research into a terrifying format of a world affected by first one, then two, then three degrees warming. By the time you get to what would happen at six degrees of warming you are pretty much desensitised to the horror.

One of the good things about the book is the author's honesty. Where the science is sketchy he makes it clear. At five and six degrees how the world will react is impossible to say at the moment but Lynas makes this absolutely clear to the reader, explaining that this is almost uncharted territory and that his ideas are more speculative. At this level of warming he delves into past climates to find analogues in earth's history for what might happen.

Another good thing that I particularly liked is the final chapter. Most climate change books cop out by saying that there's still time to change things. Lynas does try to offer hope but also points out how unlikely it is that anything will stop the mess that man has caused, and continues to cause. He talks about the nature of man here, how he can deny or justify anything and this is fascinating. It's also the crux of the climate change problem.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Climate change
Climate change is an issue we all need to consider - it is the biggest threat to life on this planet and we are all responsible and need to act now.
Published 1 day ago by H M RUSHFORTH
5.0 out of 5 stars good
Great book, I am a massive bookworm so I love all books but I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and family.
Published 1 month ago by becccci
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary stuff but should be compulsory reading for politicians
I've just finished reading the book and think it should be required reading for all politicians worldwide (some hope! Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, eye opening and captivating
I really enjoyed this book; it seemed well researched, had a fabulous writing style and presented a complex set of issues very clearly without diluting them. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr Christopher J Packham
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely reminder
This book is a timely reminder that climate change is not "going away". Indeed, according to increasingly well-grounded scientific evidence it remains the greatest threat that... Read more
Published 17 months ago by E. P. Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars A different approach with some merit.
The book attempts to show how different rises in temperature for the century will affect us.

It is readable and informative, and thought-provoking. Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2012 by Acts5v29
4.0 out of 5 stars More than a degree of understanding
As Lynas says, most people have no idea what the rises in the temperature might mean. And nor did I till I read his book. Read more
Published on 21 Feb 2011 by Jacques Dutronc
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wake up call that has come too late
The first few chapters will keep me away at night for sometime (A rise of 1-2). Given that the author's option noting can be done to avoid these. Read more
Published on 6 Jan 2011 by Brace, Brace, Brace
5.0 out of 5 stars Six Degrees or how to take care of our planet
Six degrees very clearly shows life on earth in the near future if we keep boosting global warming.
Time to read it and then act accordingly.
Published on 5 Dec 2010 by TDP
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful guide to what a degree of warming really means
Although the book is two years old as I write this review, it is still current and worth reading. Most books on climate change describe the dangers of warming in a more general... Read more
Published on 3 Oct 2010 by J. Lawrence
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