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1.1 Six degrees Six Steps to Hell
Global Warming is much in the news nowadays and so it should be most of
the other problems we have pale into insignificance compared to what global
warming might bring. In this book, Mark Lynas tells the reader just how bad it
might get.
Mark Lynas's Six Degrees is first, a graceful yet massive synthesis of a very large
selection of scientific research papers; second, an eloquent and honest plea for
action on the 'slow-motion crisis' that is climate change; and third, a coherent
account of how global warming would affect humans and their world, if allowed
to proceed.
The central structuring metaphor of Six Degrees is that global warming is hell.
Lynas doesn't quite put it so baldly, though a few of his adjective choices clearly
imply it. But quotations from Dante's "Inferno" make the point quite clearly by
serving as epigraphs for Chapter One, One Degree, and for the final
chapter, Choosing Our Future.
Just as Dante's Hell was organized in increasingly dreadful circles, Lynas's
account proceeds systematically from the "one-degree world" in which we live
now--for global mean temperature is roughly 0.8 degrees Celsius above preIndustrial levels--to the "nightmare" world of six degrees. For each level, Lynas
sets forth the possible impacts and implications of that level of warming, as
known at the time of writing.
Six Degrees is the dance of the devil, teetering on the edge, on the edge of the
tipping point where things will burn with the intensity of inferno, a catastrophe no
one will be able to stop even if they tried to stabilize the level of global warming.
Earth, although unpredictable, does harness the strength to unleash this
catastrophe in the blink of an eye.

1.2 Objectives

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Set in the above perspective or background, the broad objective of the study is
1. To analyze the book Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark
2. To examine the measures taken which dealt with the problems ought to
happen with each degree as described in the book.

1.3 Scope of the study

The present project is an attempt to cover and analyze the first three degrees of
the Mark Lynas interpretation of Earth as Dantes inferno. It aims to cover the
effect of global warming and the steps that have been taken to prevent that.

1.4 Methodology of the study

Given a study of this kind, a descriptive analytical method had been used in the
creation of the detailed analysis the project entails.


2.1 One Degree
"The One Degree World" is a term, derived from Mark Lynas' book on the
impacts of global warming, describing the world at one Celsius degree above preIndustrial temperatures. Since global mean temperature has increased between
0.7-0.8 degrees Celsius, we are living in a "one degree world" now.

In Dantes vision of Hell, the outer circle was inhabited by 'virtuous Pagans' like
Plato, whose only fault was not being Christian. Basically good, even great

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people, they were punished by nothing more severe than deprivation of contact
with God. According to Lynas, the one-degree world, similarly, is 'not so bad.'
There is a laundry list of possible or observed impacts, from the return of the
mega droughts western North America experienced during the Medieval Climate
Anomaly, to the continuation of the already observed 'death spiral' of the Arctic
sea ice, with its implications for Northern hemisphere weather and increased
warming of the whole planet. Some, like the megadroughts, could be very serious
But at this level of warming there are climate 'winners,' too--for instance, the
Sahel, the semi-arid transitional zone on the south flank of the Sahara, may
become a little moister. The boreal forest of Northern Canada may become
moister as well, reducing wildfire risk there, even as that risk increases in places
like Australia and the Eastern Mediterranean basin.
It's just as well that it's not all bad, because the one-degree world is the one we all
live in right now. As the current IPCC Assessment Report 5 makes clear, many
long-projected impacts of warming are unfolding as expected. Indeed, some, such
as Arctic sea ice loss or ice mass losses in Greenland's glaciers, have been
proceeding faster than expected. "The One Degree World" is a term, derived from
Mark Lynas' book on the impacts of global warming, describing the world at one
Celsius degree above pre-Industrial temperatures. Since global mean temperature
has increased between 0.7-0.8 degrees Celsius, we are living in a "one degree
world" now.
Some of the changes described have been seen, or are beginning to be seen;
others may come about in the future, even if future warming is somehow held in
check--unlikely to impossible, according to what we know about the physical
mechanisms involved in the planet's 'heat budget'. In other words, some effects
(similar to a loaf of bread baking in the oven) may not need more warming, just
more time to 'cook.'
Americas slumbering desert, which had been proved by the traces of history in
the areas of California named as Medieval Warm Period where the conditions
were so adverse that people had resorted to cannibalism for the sake of surviving.

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In a world which is less than a degree warmer overall, the western United States
could once again be plagued by perennial droughts devastating agriculture and
driving out human inhabitants on a scale far larger than 1930s calamity. The
perennial condition of Dust Bowls, the mega droughts can return.
The dramatic weakening of the Gulf Stream, as shown in the movie The Day
After Tomorrow, although proven wrong by the scientists, but the theory of
Atlantic circulation shutdown has always been more than just a theory.
Africas shining mountains, i.e. Kilimanjaro, the rising of temperatures and
diminishing rainfall increase the chances of forest fires, eradicating the upper
reaches of montane forests, by the time the glaciers have disappeared, so will the
higher forests. As the snow disappear, so will much of the wildlife and the
verdant forests that tourists currently trek through on their arduous journey to the
roof of African continent.
The Arctic system is moving toward a new state, the tipping point, that falls
outside the envelope of recent Earth history. This new ice-free Arctic will see
extreme levels of warmth unlike anything experienced by the northern polar
region for millions of years.
As the mountain slopes thaw out and fail, whole towns and villages will be at risk
of destruction in the Alps and other mountain regions. Many will remain
unprotected and unprepared until the worst happens, bringing death crashing
down from above, suddenly and with no warning. Another loss will be incurred
from this running out of the precious resource, water.
While coral reefs of Queensland have a vital role in protecting coastlines from
storms and nurturing fisheries, no one can reasonably claim that pikas, proteas
and harlequin frogs are essential for global economic prosperity. Their value is
intrinsic, not financial. But the world will still be a much poorer place once
theyre gone.

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The contribution of human-caused global warming would be the main

contribution of Atlantic disastrous hurricanes and sinking of the islands of Tuvalu
with an extra rise in the worlds oceans.
The first degree is just a peek of the Inferno.

2.2 Two Degrees

Many people still think that a particular amount of warming will have the same
effect as would a change of that amount during a typical day. But that is not true--a
shift of the mean temperature has much bigger effects than a shift of maximum
temperature for one particular day.
Many reasons make this true. For one, threshold temperatures exist where
conditions change abruptly--an obvious example is the freezing/melting point for
water. A 'small' shift near this point can obviously mean a very large change in, say,
the number of frost days each year in a particular location. (It's worth remembering
here that frosts have their good as well as bad points--they may kill some plants,
while being essential to other plants' fruiting process.)
For another thing, temperature distributions tend to follow the famous 'bell curve'
shape. That means that small shifts in the mean temperature can affect big shifts in
the likelihood of extreme temperatures--say, those exceeding typical human skin
temperatures. So a small rise in the average temperature can mean a great many
more 'heat-stress' days each year.
The two-degree world is less familiar, but not yet completely strange. Some aspects
of the two-degree world--for instance, European heatwaves similar to the lethal
2003 event--are already emerging. Others, like ocean acidification, will become
familiar news items.
While the use of computer climate models is the most familiar method of
predicting future climate states, Lynas explains that ancient climates also give
important insights into possible future change. For the two-degree world, the

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analog is the Eemian interglacial, which reached its warmest temperatures--roughly

2 degrees Celsius above 'pre-industrial' levels--around 125,000 years ago. If past
patterns turn out to be true precedents for our future, northern China could get very
thirsty, adding to the environmental woes already costing China so dearly.
Water shortages could also be serious problems in Peru (as Andean glaciers
disappear) and California (as snowpacks shrink.) Droughts due to declines in
precipitation are expected in the Mediterranean basin, as already mentioned, and in
parts of India, where increasing temperatures are also expected to challenge the
heat tolerances of rice and wheat crops. Unsurprisingly, global food supplies are
expected to be stressed as global populations peak this century.
Marine food sources will be severely stressed, too. Oceans will warm, bleaching
coral and degrading reefs, diminishing their touristic value and, worse, their
biological productivity. Increased stratification as the ocean surface warms will
decrease the upwellings of nutrient-rich cold water, making oceans less productive.
At the same time, acidification will hurt species with calcium carbonate shells,
including the plankton which form the entire basis for marine food webs. Already
ocean acidity has increased by 30% due to carbon dioxide emissions. As Lynas
puts it, "At least half the carbon dioxide released every time you or I jump on a
plane or turn up the air conditioner ends up in the oceans... [It] dissolves in water to
form carbonic acid, the same weak acid that gives you a fizzy kick every time you
swallow a mouthful of carbonated water."
But that's just an overture; Lynas quotes Professor Ken Caldeira: "The current rate
of carbon dioxide input is nearly 50 times higher than normal. In less than 100
years, the pH of the ocean could drop by as much as half a unit from its natural 8.2
to about 7.7." That would be a 500% increase.
The precedent of the Eemian suggests that other changes to the ocean, too. The
Arctic would likely be committed to a future without sea ice, with intensification of
the consequences mentioned above. Ice loss would accelerate for Greenland's
glaciers, too. That would mean increases in sea level rise. Currently seal level is
rising at just over 3 millimeters a year--around a foot per century. That relatively

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modest rise has already contributed to the increased flood risks for events such as
Superstorm Sandy.
But one modeling study put the threshold level for the eventual near-complete loss
of Greenland's ice sheet at a local warming of just 2.7 C--which, due to Arctic
amplification, means a global warming of only 1.2 C. Total melting of Greenland-luckily, something that would likely take centuries--would raise sea levels by 7
meters, submerging Miami and most of Manhattan, as well as large chunks of
London, Shanghai, Bangkok and Mumbai. Nearly half of humanity could be
So would numerous other species. Polar bears would be under serious threat due to
loss of sea ice, as would other Arctic species; and the one-two punch of
temperature rises and acidification would pose serious challenges to many marine
species. But extinction threats in the two-degree world are not limited to the
oceans. The principal investigator of a 2004 study, Chris Thomas, revealed that
"Well over a million species could be threatened with extinction as a result of
climate change."

2.3 Three Degrees

The three degree world is less familiar than worlds with less extreme warming;
whole nations are at risk of disappearance. It's a degree of warming which, by
consensus, represents the point where damage begins to be extremely serious, and
at which less and less corresponding benefit from climate change can be derived.
In this chapter, climate regimes we might term 'sort of safe' are left behind. Partly
that is because a political consensus of some standing has been that damage
below this level might be in some sense acceptable, or at least reasonably
survivable. But in part this fact is a reflection of non-linear nature of climate
impacts, for above 2 degree celsius the risk of encountering what have become
known as 'tipping points' rises--and rises unpredictably.

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In Six Degrees the primary concern is for 'carbon cycle feedbacks.' In 2000 a
paper called "Acceleration of Global Warming Due to Carbon Cycle Feedbacks in
a Coupled Climate Model" was published--bibliographically known as Cox et al.,
Prior to Cox et al, most climate models had simulated the response of atmosphere
and ocean to increasing greenhouse gases. But Cox et al was an early product of a
new generation of "coupled" climate models. Coupled models added a new level
of realism by considering the carbon cycle, in addition to atmosphere and ocean.
For carbon is an important ingredient for all life, and is ubiquitous in sea and sky.
It is forever dancing from sky, to living tissues, to the sea--and the specifics
depend, in part, upon temperature. For example, as temperatures warm, seawater
absorbs less carbon dioxide, and as precipitation patterns change and plants grow
(or die), they take up more (or less) carbon. Thus, carbon affects temperature,
which affects life, which in turn affects carbon.
What Cox et al. found was startling, for those who spotted the implications. With
3 degrees of warming, "Instead of absorbing CO2, vegetation and soils start
releasing it in massive quantities, as soil bacteria work work faster to break down
organic matter in a hotter environment, and plant growth goes into reverse." The
result, in the model, was the release of an additional 250 ppm of carbon dioxide
by 2100, and an additional 1.5 degrees of warming. In other words, the 3 C world
was not stable--hitting the 3 degree threshold meant hitting a 'tipping point' which
led directly (though not immediately) to the 4 C world.
This effect was primarily due to a huge dieback of the Amazon rain forest. With
warming and drying the rainforest collapsed almost completely. Later studies
found globally similar effects, albeit in differing amounts. And recent study
suggests that the likelihood of an Amazonian collapse may be lower than first
thought--welcome news, to be sure.
But it can't be ruled out--nor can other carbon feedbacks. Lynas discusses the
possibility of massive Indonesian peat fires, for example--in 1997-98, wildfires

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there released approximately "two billion tonnes of additional carbon into the
Another overarching fact gives one pause: three degrees of warming takes us
beyond the Eemian interglacial as analogue. The Pliocene epoch, three million
years before the present, was the last time global mean temperature was three
degrees warmer than pre-Industrial. And during the Pliocene, atmospheric carbon
dioxide was in the range of 360-400 ppm, according to studies of fossil leaves.
That's significant because modern carbon dioxide levels hit 400 ppm for the first
time in 2013. In other words, our atmosphere already contains as much carbon
dioxide as did the Pliocene version--and that was a world so different from ours
that beech shrubs grew only 500 kilometers from the South Pole, in an area where
the average temperature is -39 C today.
It is some consolation that such extensive changes could not occur overnight, and
in fact might take centuries--if concentrations were to stabilize at 400 ppm, that
The list of potential climate impacts at 3 degrees is dispiritingly long. The
recurring theme, though, is difficulties in conducting agriculture: drought in
Central America, Pakistan, the western US or Australia, more monsoonal
precipitation extremes in India, and strengthening cyclonic storms add up to a
projected net global food deficit at 2.5 C. As Lynas puts it:
With structural famine gripping much of the subtropics, hundreds of millions of
people will have only one choice left other than death for themselves and their
families: They will have to pack up their belongings and leave... Conflicts will
inevitably erupt as these numerous climate refugees spill into already densely
populated areas... Uprooted, stateless, and without hope, these will be the first
generation of a new type of people: climate nomads, constantly moving in search
of food, their varied cultures forgotten, ancestral ties to ancient lands cut
forever... As social collapse accelerates, new political philosophies may emerge,
philosophies that seek to lay blame where it truly belongs--on the rich countries
that lit the fire that has now begun to consume the world.

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3.1 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:
The mid-1980s was a period of increased concerned with the human impact on
global climate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
established by World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment
Programme, presented evidence of global climate change with its first report in
1990. As global environmental concerns gained public awareness, international
action to address the threat of global climate change became a viable response.
In 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, New
York, 1992 was adopted. It came into force in 1994. The convention sets forth the
ultimate objective of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases
at safe levels. The convention does not establish exact concentrations of
greenhouse gases at safe levels.
In one degree, the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC talks about the projected
effects that is the reduction in thickness and extent of glaciers and ice sheets, and
changes in natural ecosystem with detrimental effects on many organisms
including migratory birds, mammals and higher predators. In the Arctic, additional
impacts include reductions in the extent of sea ice and permafrost, increased
coastal erosion, and an increase in the depth of permafrost.
For human communities in the Arctic, impacts, particularly those resulting from
changing snow and ice conditions, are projected to be mixed. Detrimental impacts
would include those on infrastructure and traditional indigenous ways on life.
Beneficial impacts would include reduced heating costs and more navigable
northern sea routes. The specific ecosystems and habitats are also projected to be
vulnerable, as climate barriers to species invasions are lowered.

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Scientists talk about tipping points, where a gradual change suddenly moves
into a self-fuelling spiral. The methane trapped in the melting permafrost and in
sea-beds in a warming ocean, and, if some or all of that methane is released, it
would amount to more contribution to the average cimate change in the world.
Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are essential to the survival of humans and
millions of other living things, through keeping some of the suns warmth from
reflecting back into space and making Earth livable. But its a matter of scale. A
century and a half of industrialization, including clear-felling forests and certain
farming methods, has driven up quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
As populations, economies and standards of living grow, so does the cumulative
level of GHG emissions.
Thanks to the IPCC, this is what we know:

From 1880 to 2012, average global temperature increased by 0.85C. To put this
into perspective, for each 1 degree of temperature increase, grain yields decline
by about 5 per cent. Maize, wheat and other major crops have experienced
significant yield reductions at the global level of 40 megatonnes per year between
1981 and 2002 due to a warmer climate.

Oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished and sea level
has risen. From 1901 to 2010, the global average sea level rose by 19 cm as
oceans expanded due to warming and ice melted. The Arctics sea ice extent has
shrunk in every successive decade since 1979, with 1.07 million km of ice loss
every decade.

Given current concentrations and on-going emissions of greenhouse gases, it is

likely that by the end of this century, the increase in global temperature will
exceed 1.5C compared to 1850 to 1900 for all but one scenario. The worlds
oceans will warm and ice melt will continue. Average sea level rise is predicted as
24 - 30cm by 2065 and 40-63cm by 2100. Most aspects of climate change will
persist for many centuries even if emissions are stopped.

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In second degrees, a highlight of the projected impacts of climate change on the

Europe region based on the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC is that nearly
all European regions are expected to be negatively affected by some future
impacts of climate change, and these will pose challenges to many economic
sectors. Europe can expect retreating glaciers, longer growing seasons, shift of
species ranges, and health impacts due to a heatwave of unprecedented magnitude
and frequency as the climate change.
Climate change is expected to magnify regional differences in Europes natural
resources and assets. Negative impacts will include increased risk of inland flash
floods, and more frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion (due to
storminess and sea-level rise). The great majority of organisms and ecosystems
will have difficulty adapting to climate change. Mountainous areas will face
glacier retreat, reduced snow cover and winter tourism, and extensive species
losses (in some areas up to 60% under high emission scenarios by 2080).
The intensity of the global warming increase, with the outcome assumed in the
chapter three degrees will likely to see the el nino effect. Population transfers
will be bigger than anything ever seen in the history of mankind. This will
inevitably lead to conflict and international wars.

3.2 Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty, which extends the 1992 United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits State
Parties to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, based on the premise that (a) global
warming exists and (b) man-made CO2 emissions have caused it. The Kyoto
Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force
on 16 February 2005. There are currently 192 Parties (Canada withdrew effective
December 2012) to the Protocol.
Degradation of coral reef systems can prove particularly threatening to fishingdependant coastal communities. As most fishing communities are steeped in poverty
and lack access to basic and essential services, coral bleaching can magnify adverse

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consequences. The key international instruments applicable to coral reef health are
the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, with mandates on mitigation measures like
emissions avoidance and carbon sequestration.
While CO2 is the most prominent greenhouse gas, other gasses contribute to global
warming as well. There are six directly controllable greenhouse gasses that are
covered by the Kyoto Protocol.
Emission targets are given in units of CO 2 equivalents, which is the product of the
global warming potential of the gas and the weight. This is the quantity of CO 2,
which would have the same effect on global warming over the duration of 100 years
as the individual gas. These gasses are commonly included when determining the
carbon footprint of an organization as a part of a carbon management strategy. The
seven main gasses are: CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6 and newly NF3.

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With the increasing of average climate change degree by degree, Lynas had proved
by the historical references and assumption, since it had happened before, nothing is
stopping it from happening again. 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 to six (extinction of most plants,
animals, people). This book is an interesting study in the alarmist-literature dynamic
between the dual objectives of a piece of alarmist journalism to be objective and to
ruthlessly manipulate the fears of the reader.
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.

Six degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
Environmental Law Dr. S.R. Myneni Foreword by Dr. K. Vidyullatha

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List of International Environmental Agreements
Six Degrees by Mark Lynas