Six degrees : our future on a hotter planet
The book is divided into chapters from 1° to 6°, each describing what is likely to happen with that degree of warming. 1 ° means that many mountain glaciers will shrink, leading to water shortages around the rivers they feed. Fragile ecosystems are also likely to be hit badly. 2° will mean that the heatwaves of 2003 will come to be thought of as normal, and that much of the arctic ice will disappear. I'll skip ahead here and point out that even if we go ahead with most of the plans to limit global warming, we're still likely to have a temperature rise of 1-2 degrees. And it gets worse. 3° means the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and more devastating storms. 4° leads to the huge sea level rise we've seen in the movies. 5° - well if it gets that bad then it's not likely to stop there. Positive feedback mechanisms such as the release of methane hydrates will mean the temperature will go on increasing. This brings us to 6°, which may well lead to a mass extinction - worse than that at the end of the Permian, since it will happen so much quicker.
The book ends with a look at which of these temperatures it is likely to be, and emphasises that business as usual is simply not an option and that the naysayers are just clutching at straws. Lynas argues however, that we are not powerless to tackle the problem. One of the things I liked about this book was the way that Lynas packed in a great amount of detail, which can't just be dismissed with a few platitudes, but did so in a way that kept the readers interest. Hence I feel that this is likely to be an important book in spreading the message of what we are likely to be in for.