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Six Degrees

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  925 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
Possibly the most graphic treatment of global warming that has yet been published, Six Degrees is what readers of Al Gore's best-selling An Inconvenient Truth or Ross Gelbspan's Boiling Point will turn to next. Written by the acclaimed author of High Tide, this highly relevant and compelling book uses accessible journalistic prose to distill what environmental scientists p ...more
Paperback, 358 pages
Published by Fourth Estate (GB) (first published January 1st 2007)
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Silent Spring by Rachel CarsonA Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo LeopoldThe Lorax by Dr. SeussThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Best Environmental Books
56th out of 578 books — 767 voters
Reclaim by Carl GripThe Ecological Rift by John Bellamy FosterThis Changes Everything by Naomi KleinThe Systems View of Life by Fritjof CapraSix Degrees by Mark Lynas
Consequences of Climate Change
5th out of 23 books — 19 voters

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(showing 1-30 of 2,602)
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Sep 11, 2009 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every member of an industrialized nation, especially politicians and the captains of industry
Recommended to Jessica by: caitlin
Reading this book was like meeting someone, falling madly in love, and finding out she's got a terminal illness, all in the space of twenty minutes. It's been a decade since I've thought about Science, and not being much of a nature girl I forgot how mindblowingly amazing and complex the Earth is. The best parts of this book really reminded me of that.

Did I say terminal illness? That's a bad metaphor, since disease seems sort of just to passively happen; also, we tend to think of illness as some
Paul Bryant
Jul 21, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
Shelves: science
The subject of this book is the fast approaching Global Fry-Up. Oh, I hear you cry, spare me another jeremiad about this boring topic! Yes – I’m with you. It is horribly tiresome. Okay, every time you turn on the news you get death, financial crisis, war, ghastliness. The news is always bad except for the last little bit of amusing oddness they throw in to stop you hanging yourself from your wardrobe door. Let's add to that the general feeling that many people have as they get older that everyth ...more
Aug 25, 2016 Antonomasia added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Ted
Why is climate change not the biggest issue for the loudest group of protestors in the West these days? I'm starting to wonder. Why do student firebrands (who are usually middle class and comfortable, often protesting about things that don't directly affect them) mostly treat it as a secondary issue, some way further down the list than their main concerns? Why are SJWs SJWs and not CJWs? What if we'd had as much progress in legislation and in attitude change among the media in the last five year ...more
Read this on my step-father's request. I think he might have been trying to get me to shit my pants.

This is, roughly, one part robust scientific journalism and one part ecological-apocalypse-torture-porn. Working from several decades worth of scientific inquiry into both our current climate situation and periods of vast geologic/climactic upheaval, Lynas gives us a best guess global picture of what happens as the temperature rises, degree by degree, from one (sucky) to six (extinction of most pl
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
This text should be required reading for participation in the planetary exchange of resources; i.e. breathing, drinking, eating, excreting.

What Lynas has provided here is a comprehensive summary of international research on climate change and carbon emissions from a variety of perspectives and methodologies. The result is a harrowing projection of the kinds of shifts in ecosystems around the world - water tables, weather patterns, food production, biodiversity, ocean acidity - that are likely t
Oct 27, 2013 Margie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margie by: David Archer via Coursera
While finishing this up I started reading Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. It made me appreciate the extent to which Mark Lynas does not take a particular side or cause in his exploration of global warming.

Lynas poured over journal articles and research papers, and then decided to organize the information according to degrees of warming. So there's a chapter dedicated to causes and effects of the warming of one degree Celsius, and then a chapter a
Dec 12, 2008 Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is an superb book for anyone interested in global warming, which should include all who inhabit this planet. It paints a picture of what happens to the Earth at each step as it warms up by one additional degree Celsius, all the way up to six degrees above today's temperature. Needless to say, things get very ugly by the time we get to three degrees, let alone six. The latter translates to another mass extinction. Which, come to think of it, we're already going through.

This is not the cheeri
D.J. Cockburn
Dec 14, 2015 D.J. Cockburn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most frightening book I've ever read. I mean that as a resounding endorsement.

Six Degrees summarises the likely consequences of global warming into a form that an interested layman like me can digest without being overwhelmed. The evidence that global warming is being driven by carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is straightforward and incontrovertible. I haven't doubted that since I first saw the famous 'hockey stick' graph, showing how global temperatures have been shooting up since t
25th book for 2016.

I am in awe at the amount of studies Lynas must have read to come up with this very detailed and accessible summary of the climate change literature (up to 2007) detailing step by step the changes to the Earth as it slowly heats up degree by degree.

I knew that a 2-3 degree C increase was bad, but I really had no idea how terrible it really was before reading this book. No more Amazon rainforest, no more coral reefs, mass flooding of cities, starvation of millions, loss of mu
Lily Wangler
May 23, 2015 Lily Wangler rated it it was ok
"Six Degrees" isn't anything special. If you are a climate change denier, it is doubtful that the book will cause you to see the truth (people are too set in their beliefs for a single book to change them drastically). If you acknowledge the reality of climate change, you probably already know what's coming. It may inspire those who are unaware of the effects of climate change or those who acknowledge climate change to do more to combat it, but that is its maximum potential impact.

The six chapt
John Gordon
Oct 13, 2013 John Gordon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Six degrees: Our future on a Hotter Planet is a challenging and confronting read. The author [Mark Lynas] has researched current scientific peer reviewed literature and presented it in a popular science format looking at the future of our planet at various temperature levels above pre-industrial. The style is quite readable, tending to move from one case study to another, the reason I say it is challenging is because of what it contains. Climate scientists have been telling governments about cli ...more
Rhys Thomas
Oct 16, 2010 Rhys Thomas rated it it was amazing
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 th ...more
Jun 08, 2009 Temaris rated it really liked it
I read Six Degrees won the Royal Society popular science book of the year thingy in 2008 -- you know, solid science, but actually readable! Let me tell you, I'm only up to four degrees, and I'm *freaked*. I was having a conversation the other day about how global warming isn't about long hot summers, but a couple of degeres increase on average, across a whole year. Which is true, as it turns out but didn't go Nearly Far Enough. This guy is going through what happens at each of one through six de ...more
Nov 30, 2010 Steve rated it it was amazing
This is the scariest book I've read in a long, long time.

It lays out in detail what each degree of global warming will entail (the current expected range of warming is somewhere between 1.5 and now possibly up to 8 degrees Celsius), and how that will affect life on Earth. We are already locked into experiencing the first chapter, which is the likely return of the American Great Plains to desert. Each successive chapter just gets worse, and describes positive feedback systems which will make thin
Sep 09, 2008 Annie rated it it was ok
Disturbing. But what else can you expect from a book on the real life consequences of global warming? This one truly is a bit of a horror story, however well-researched or written, it takes a bit of determination to read through as the scenarios are fairly glum, particulary the likely extinction of so many species. Hard to absorb all of that.
One point the author makes is that we simply don't know what to expect from all of this melting and heating up, things could rock and roll right away, a lo
Jul 16, 2014 Whitaker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first non-fiction book I've read in one go. It's edge-of-the-seat gripping. I'm not going to do a review because I don't think I have the time and energy to defend this against the anti-climate-change crowd. To them, all I say is that I hope you fall on the right side of the demographic line: above 40 and no kids. For a proper review, check out The Guardian (plus a summary by the author).
Tim Ellis
Oct 17, 2015 Tim Ellis rated it it was amazing
At one degree the western plains
of the US will be starved of rain,
Bankrupted farmers will pack up and flee
as desert restakes its claim.
There'll be no ice cap on the Arctic,
we'll lose the rivers of Kilimanjaro,
and frost that keeps the Alps secure
won't do it any more.
The Barrier Reef will bleach and die,
mountain animals will reach the sky
chasing the cool, and those that can't fly
will join the dinosaurs.
Tropical storms expand their domain
to bludgeon new regions - Brazil, Spain -
and hope is lost f
Elliott Bignell
Apr 12, 2015 Elliott Bignell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot can be hidden behind a simple symbol. That little circle that denotes the degree in the popular Celsius scale, for instance. Lynas draws his circles to illustrate our own Paradise Lost, with a descent in six easy stages into a world we will no longer know as our own.

Lynas is not himself a climatologist, although he clearly knows the high places of the world and has had to struggle down off the Andes on the point of expiry after seeing for himself what is going on up there. As such, he has
Nicole R
Jun 25, 2014 Nicole R rated it really liked it
This was an extremely interesting and relatively quick read. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world-wide authority on what is in store for the future of our planet in terms of global warming. Based on the best available scientific data from world-renouned scientists, the 2007 edition predicts a maximum of 5.8 degree Celcius increase by 2100 with an average prediction of 3 degrees.

Lynas dedicates a chapter of his book to each of these degrees, describing the consequenc
Brick ONeil
Feb 02, 2015 Brick ONeil rated it it was amazing
Sobering outlook on the future of planet Earth if something isn’t done about Global Warming.

This is one of those books that stays with you long after you read it. Lynas bluntly tells us what happens with Earth after each degree of temperature that rises. I read the book a few years ago and still can remember how devastating the rising temperatures will affect life. Either in 2013 or 2014, Scientists have stated that the Earth’s temperature has risen by 1.something degrees already, and we’re seei
Little Miss Esoteric

Get out your wet weather gear, your fire-fighting pumps and your sunscreen. Times are changing. Also, methane plumes have just been found in the Arctic, each of them kilometers wide. Tipping points are kicking in. Damn all those stupid politicians and mining magnates like Gina Bloody Reinhart for being recalcitrant tossers, who really don't give a damn, unless they can get votes or make a quick buck.

5 stars.
Xi Chen
Jun 06, 2016 Xi Chen rated it it was amazing
Wish I read this earlier..
May 15, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
For a summary/outline of this book, go to

This is an alarming book. Eight years later, with the global temperature increase at 0.7 degree Centigrade, the first chapter's predictions seem to be happening, especially the melting of glaciers and the Arctic ice. Apparently the damage to coral reefs by bleaching and human activities continues. Atlantic hurricane activity is not yet clearly stronger and fewer. But neither is it any weaker or more frequent.

Jose lana
Apr 21, 2016 Jose lana rated it really liked it
The efects on the environement at global escale along this century of the raising in average temperaturas by burning fossil fuels until 6 centigrades degrees depending on diferent scenrios of control of the emisions of greenhouse gases
Leeroy Lindenborough
Jan 07, 2016 Leeroy Lindenborough rated it really liked it
Came to this book looking to increase the resolution of my imagination about the next decades, because of the pressure from the current environment of turboparalysis and propped-up business-as-usual. I knew that the core of industrial civilization is rotting away underneath the thinning veneer of gloss. So taking a closer look at this more significant underlying picture seemed preferable to having it burst through when I wasn't expecting.

I got what I asked for. The book accomplishes what it sets
Jul 07, 2014 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
I read this as an extra materials source in a MOOC I took. The author does a good job of explaining possible outcomes of a hotter planet due to anthropogenic climate change. However, he speaks mainly to believers and to those who are not in that camp, his prose will come across as yelling at them. Part way through reading it, I discovered that this a 2008 edition--ages old in this rapidly changing subject. Look for a more recent edition or go towards a different, more recent title.
Bottom line: i
Leslie Englehart
Aug 13, 2015 Leslie Englehart rated it it was amazing
Excellent summary of where we are headed re climate change, and it isn't pretty. Since it was written in 2007, the research is not up to date, but his predictions are eerily coming to pass earlier than the scientific consensus expected in 2007. Won't any people in power pay attention??? Of course not, since it is in their financial interest not to. Too, too sad. But some of us do what we can and march on even though as one climate scientist recently put it, "2015 will go down as the year the s__ ...more
May 12, 2015 Franz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure. While there is merit to the idea of systematically identifying the likely changes associated with progressive warming, the book felt like a collection of "loosely" connected climate change stories. On the other hand, I liked the fact that the author maintained a global focus and included climate change for regions other than North America and Europe.

The book came "alive" towards the end. The chapter on the six degree scenario was necessarily different as very few models seem to ha
Mar 14, 2015 Mitchell rated it liked it
Shelves: library, nonfiction
Interesting if uneven read. I think that the idea of average global temperature is a difficult one to get because it is not something an individual can see. This author did a pretty good job of making some of this more visible. The author also clearly put a lot of effort into trying to make understandable the runaway aka tipping effects - unfortunately these also were the more unreadable chapters. His ending summary of the six degree and mitigation chapters were actually pretty good. A lot of th ...more
May 27, 2008 Tripp rated it really liked it
Back in the high school days, a teacher probably showed you a movie with car crash victims or some horrifying images of lesion studded genitalia to warn you of the dangers of bad driving and over-frequent sexual behavior. Like those teachers, Mark Lynas with his book Six Degrees is trying to scare you and your government into shaping up.

The book describes what would happen to the Earth as the average surface temperature increases, degree by degree (Celsisus.) Each degree presents a new list of h
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“So far as we yet know, this is the only planet in the entire universe which has summoned forth life in all its brilliance and variety. To knowingly cut this flowering short is undoubtedly a crime, one more unspeakable even than the cruellest genocide or most destructive war. If each person is uniquely valuable, each species is surely more so. I can see no excuses for collaborating in such a crime. As the post-war Nuremberg trials established, ignorance is no defence; nor is merely following orders. To me the moral path lies not in passively accepting our destructive role, but in actively resisting such a horrendous fate. As” 0 likes
“Calculated globally, human society consumes the equivalent of 400 years' worth of ancient solar energy (expressed in terms of the net primary productivity of plants during previous geological eras) each year through our use of fossil fuels.” 0 likes
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