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Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,686 ratings  ·  216 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

Paperback, 358 pages
Published by Fourth Estate (GB) (first published January 1st 2007)
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David Schaafsma
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
I saw this book when it first came out in 2008 and deliberately did not pick it up. But’s it’s not exactly as if I have been in denial. I’m a long-term environmental activist. As a young man in the sixties I read Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. I was there for the first Earth Day, when it appeared we all began to realize we were killing the planet. I’ve long been a reader and (sometimes) supporter of various ecoterrorist/environmental acts and movements. I k ...more
Expanded review

From the weeping ground there sprang a wind,
Flaming with vermillion light,
Which overmastered all my senses,
And I dropped like a man pulled down by sleep.

Dante, Inferno, Canto III:
Dante enters the First Circle of Hell

Gustave Doré's illustration of Canto III: Arrival of Charon.

Well the first circle of hell wasn’t all that bad, comparatively – Purgatory.

“Climate change is the canvas on which the history of the 21st century will be painted.”
Mark Lynas

A friend who recommended this book
Aug 26, 2009 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
Clif Hostetler
This is a 2007 (2008 in USA) book about global warming. It summarizes the results from scientific papers on climate change, and it uses successive chapters to describe the world's climate at 1°C, 2°C, on up to 6°C rise of average temperatures. The effects are compared to paleoclimatic studies, with six degrees of warming compared back to the Cretaceous geologic period.

Since this book is already ten years old it's interesting to compare its predictions to what has actually happened since it was p
Paul Bryant
Oct 04, 2007 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 13, 2016 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
** My review is a call to action for anyone in healthcare in particular, as well as the general public.**
I finished Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet several days ago, but wanted to let the book's subject matter sit with me a few days before I wrote a review. Plus, I've been freakin busy! There are many insightful reviews on the subject matter itself, so I'm going to focus more on what the book meant to me as a human, and as a nurse. Bottom line: our earth is warming up. What is *cau
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
Clare O'Beara
I read this book summarised in the Sunday Times when it was published in 2007 and have now read the full horror story. Lynas is a journalist who has lived on a few different continents and now lives in UK, so he is better at communicating the science than many pure scientists. He collected the papers and charts about what would progress if the world warmed as it was set to do, and presented the evidence of the effects per each degree upwards. He largely succeeds in being unbiased, except to add ...more
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
Dec 12, 2008 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
Tim Ellis
Oct 17, 2015 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
Oct 21, 2013 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
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Myth or reality????
Next: Global Warming or Global Cooling???

I think I need to read this book and re-examine the whole question of Global Warming. After the fine review by my friend Ted*, and yet following my viewing of the movies “Snowpiercer” and “Ice 2020” some doubts still surfaced. Plus, there’s a lot on climate-change protection being dismantled by the ongoing American administration. One wonders.



(Snowpiercer: (view spoiler)
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
“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 ord
D.J. Cockburn
Dec 14, 2015 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
Aug 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It will be interesting when we turn the COVID corner just what effect this last year has had on CO2 concentrations. I suspect it will prove we *can* contribute to improving our situation, and may convince people and governments to make further improvements. If they don't, we are screwed.

Not the planet, it will survive. It won't be a fun place to live, of course. The majority of species will be wiped out in a mass die-off that rivals the Permian extinction. The planet also won't sustain a populat
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
If we don't listen, if we don't stop destroying our beautiful planet, if we don't make the necessary changes, then we have no one to blame but ourselves when it is lost to us. Time to wake up I think.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eco
Six Degrees (2008) provides an overview of climate science, organized around what's expected to happen to Earth (Eaarth?) after each degree celsius increase in the planet's average temperature. What are climate models -- and where does the data that supports them come from? If these are questions you've asked, then Lynas provides a pretty readable answer that I'm not sure can be topped beyond getting into academic discourse.

I don't think I understood until reading this book why policy so often a
John Gordon
Aug 15, 2013 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
Mark Denega
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not the *best* book I've read, but the most *important*, bar none. The text is dense, both because Lynas packs so much research into each chapter and because his writing style is somewhat superfluous, but read this book, nonetheless.

Six Degrees is an amalgamation of modern climate research--culled from scientific journals such as 'Science' and 'Nature'--and our understanding of past global heat events based on the fossil record, brought to life with descriptive detail by Lynas to illustrate what
May 22, 2008 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
Rhys Thomas
Oct 16, 2010 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 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 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
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such extraordinary work was done by Mark Lynas in this book, I feel I will probably refer back to it many times. This should be a mandatory read somewhere, everywhere. Insightful, intelligent and catastrophically real. It is a very detailed piece on climate change, the future of this planet and the shortcomings of our species. The chapters are divided in a very detailed and yet organic manner, they treat pretty technical stuff and despite that are perfectly clear and come accompanied by very tan ...more
James Aura
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
An important book-- and in light of today's report that ocean waters are heating up even faster than first thought,
it takes on more importance. The author digs into databanks from climate studies around the globe and makes projections on what the specific on-the-ground effects will be of rising global temperatures. The six degrees by the way, is centigrade, not fahrenheit. If you're interested in climate science and some of the gritty specifics of what future generations will be dealing with- I
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Except for the fact that it will make you want to kill yourself, recommended.
Blake Frederick
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: climate-death
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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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