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Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet

Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
Mark Lynas
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society, 2008
QC981.8 .G56 L983 2008

By the end of the century, the planet will heat up between 1.4° and 5.8° Celsius, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Six degrees may not sound like much, but as this sobering, engrossing, up-to-the-minute book warns, a six-degree rise in Earth's average temperature would be enough to reshape our world almost beyond recognition. Global warming is already a fact - the fabled snows of Kilimanjaro are melting away; the massive boulders of the Matterhorn, ice-bound for centuries, have begun to plunge in dramatic and dangerous rockfalls; and the atoll nations of the Pacific are disappearing inch by inch under the waves.

Degree by degree, chapter by chapter, Mark Lynas, the author of High Tide, explains the processes and examines the effects of this unprecedented phenomenon, drawing on the full range of state-of-the-art research and sophisticated computer models that show conclusively that today's climate change is a new and different challenge, not a routine swing of a slow climatic pendulum.

At once frightening and fascinating, Six Degrees portrays a living world in crisis, from coral reefs that are already dying to polar creatures that will vanish along with the ice floes that are their home. Some species may survive by migrating, but countless others are doomed to extinction unless decisive action is taken right now. With a three-degree increase, the American Midwest and the Amazon basin - today the source of 20 percent of Earth's fresh water - will begin to decay into arid, uninhabitable waste. Whether by drowning or desertification, whole countries will disappear as their people become refugees. By the year 2100, great swaths of New York, London, Bombay, and Shanghai may be flooded.

To avoid catastrophe is still possible, but time is very short: Lynas estimates that we have less than a decade to design and implement an effective strategy for managing climate change. And as he builds his clear, compelling, carefully argued case, he shows exactly how and why what's at stake is quite literally the future of our world and everything in it.

Quoted from dustjacket.