Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet

Within no time, the whole concept of global warming has evolved as an acute issue, pressing a major question of fear into the hearts of all. Some feel culpable and concerned; others simply do not pay any heed to it. Assuming that almost all people admire beloved planet, several ecologist and environmentalists pour their thoughts into a series of efficacious words and deliver speeches cautioning the general public in a hope to apprise and persuade as many folks as possible to fight for the upcoming future of the world. With similar hopes a small but effective voice was raised by a very celebrated British author, journalist and environmentalist ‘Mark Lynas’ through his masterpiece titled ‘Six Degrees: Our future on a Hotter Planet’.[i]

“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.”

‘Mark Lynas’ calls himself the ‘Modern Dante’ and clearly justifies his statement as Dante’s Hell (reference to ‘Inferno’) was divided into nine stages in ascending order of the sufferings similarly Lynas has shown an imaginative journey through the darker circles of hell that calls for us. An organized account of climate devastation , starting from “One-degree” world, which depicts the current scenario of the globe, to the final i.e. the last stage of “Six-degree” world which according to him would not be less than a dreadful nightmare for all of the living beings present on the earth. This reminded  me of a famous quote by ‘Quarles’ which goes like “Fear nothing but what thine industry may prevent and be confident of nothing but what fortune cannot defeat- It is no less folly to fear what cannot be avoided than to be secure when there is a possibility of preventing.”

A small rise in temperature of one or two degrees might not weigh much on people’s mind but the way Lynas has warned about the expected catastrophe, can make anyone’s blood run cold. He summarized records from thousands of scientific papers and researches which proved how even the slightest rise in temperature can gradually effect the biodiversity making our Earth totally insipid.

One Degree- Chapter one of the book comments on the average increase of one degree. The Great Plains which extends from Texas to Canada is predicted to wither away into a bone-dry desert, which can submerge the whole conurbation under the violent sandstorms. The temperature would be so extreme on both the hands that people will face scorching summer droughts and fierce winter winds. The beautiful snow covered mountains and glaciers will no longer remain as it is, moreover the melting snow would no longer be able to provide water to those rivers which used to make the entire continent fertile. Rise in temperature on the land would also raise the temperature of waters thus welcoming more of the typhoons and hurricanes across all over. Ice gets melted at the poles which again in turn provide more space for the ultra-violet and infra-red radiations to get absorbed leading to grater destruction.

“Dead trees can talk, in a way.”

His writing style is a bit unique. For e.g. the way he personified the above statement is something which compels the readers to turn the page subconsciously.

Two Degree- A bit stranger world! Here the whole story revolves around a heavy water crisis. Acidification of oceans and other water bodies would have become a day-to-day affair for our upcoming generations. The biggest water crisis would be faced by China, especially by northern part of it. Droughts would become very common. Food shortage will be emerging as one of the main concerned issue in all the parts of the world. Ocean warming, degrading reefs, diminishing tourist’s attraction are few of those problems which will definitely make the living being dodge a bullet. Acidifications will going to incapacitate species with calcium carbonate shells. In short the entire marine life is at peril. With all the scientific facts and proofs Lynas very clearly mentions that “Well over a million species could be threatened with extinctions as a result of climate change.”

Three degree- An average three degree rise would reach a level from where it will become very difficult to put the “Spilt milk” back in place. The Amazon forest will get dried up leaving behind nothing but only heaps and heaps of dry dust. Storms and cyclones will flood many coastal cities destroying the beauty of nature.

Four to six degree rise will totally sweep out almost all living senses from this earth. This dreadful situation is not even easy to imagine. Lynas’ imagination calls this “largely unrecognizable.” He quoted ‘Daniel Higgins’ and ‘Jonathan Schrag’ writings of 2006 that “The PETM represents one of the best natural analogs in the geologic record to the current rise in CO2 due to burning of fossil fuels.” The rise in temperature will increase the speed of decay immensely. The development of the earth which took thousands of years to come in existence will decay in a few decades. So we should stand warned against the activities which add to the decaying factors.

The last chapter of this phenomenous book titled “Choosing Our Future” proves to be a true eye opener for all the readers. He gives the tour of hell as well as heaven in this part of the book. He was of the view that there will be a vision of heaven on earth after the world ends.

Giving a clear cut warning Lynas concludes with the following words.

“My conclusion in this book… is that we have less than a decade remaining to peak and begin cutting global emissions. This is an urgent timetable, but not an impossible one. It seems to me that the dire situation that we find ourselves in argues no for fatalism, but for radicalism.”[ii]