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This is a much-overdue review of Mark Lynas' book Six Degrees, which suggests a series of warnings as to how the future climate will be changed by abrupt climate change.

(crossposted at Docudharma)

Book review: Lynas, Mark.  Six Degrees.  London: Fourth
Estate, 2007.

It’s amazing what little coverage this book has gotten.  It’s received a couple of mentions in previous diaries: Asinus Asinum Fricat gives it an oh-so-short review in the midst of a discussion of a G8 summit; Dotcommodity thinks it worth mention in light of Barack Obama’s position on coal-to-oil conversion.  So IMHO this book deserves a full review here.

At any rate, it’s not the easiest book in the world to find.  I ordered it from Amazon.com six months ago, and received a few excuses from them before it canceled my order.  Just recently I remembered this book and re-ordered it from Amazon.ca, the Canadian version of Amazon.com.  It came in the mail rather promptly.  If you want this book right away, order it from Amazon.ca.  It will make an excellent gift for a reader who is ready for the discussions it offers.

Mark Lynas is a British author with a fairly well-decorated blog.  I wrote a diary on his ethnography of global warming, High Tide, back in January.  Six Degrees has been out for some time already: the published reviews of it have largely concentrated upon Lynas' illustrations of a rather copious research record (which he sat in the library devouring); one of the best of these reviews was the one published by The Times (London).

In Six Degrees Lynas offers us a graphic picture of the progressive ruination of the planet due to abrupt climate change.  This picture is illustrated with the results of scientific computer-generated models, observations as to what is going on now, and paleoclimatological discussions of what has happened in the past.  There are six chapters, one for each degree of warming, and a conclusion with recommendations for things to do.

The sum of Six Degrees’ warnings is encapsulated in a passage from the "four degrees" chapter:

All of the civilizational collapses mentioned above took place as a result of comparatively small changes in climate, changes which will be dwarfed by the massive shifts we can expect to see in the centuries ahead.  If just a few tenths of a degree did for the Maya and the Harappans, imagine what ten times that might do for our fragile and interconnected world today.  In some ways the situation is even worse because this time our ecological crisis is truly global; when the Mayans had deforested their local area and exhausted their food supplies, the ragged survivors of the resulting wars and chaos at least had somewhere else to flee.  Migration is the traditional human adaptation to crisis, but this time there will be nowhere to hide.  Civilizational collapse, like the blast wave of a neutron bomb, will sweep around the globe.  (188)

So everything is at stake here.  Got children?  Don’t want them to experience this?  Keep reading.

The six chapters portray an escalating threat, with the discussion narrowing into a sort of abyss in much the way that the narrative of Dante’s Inferno went down, down, down.  Moreover, each of the degrees of change (as they are portrayed in the book) contains with it a slippery slope – factors with one degree of change contribute to the possibility of two degrees of change, with two to three, and so on.  The slide downward is greased, and if that weren’t enough, Lynas reminds us that the climatic depredations he depicts do not take into account some of the other ways in which human beings destroy the natural environment.

With one degree, Lynas tells us we can worry about:

  • a "dust bowl" effect in the Great Plains
  • no snow on Kilimanjaro
  • the Amazon pushed to the brink of collapse as fire danger escalates
  • polar icecaps get ready to melt
  • biodiversity havens disappear worldwide
  • hurricane danger in the South Atlantic (heretofore unknown) increases.
  • With two degrees, we’ll see:

  • drought in China
  • Acidic oceans wiping out coral reefs
  • regular occurrence of 2003-like summers in Europe
  • the destruction of Greenland’s ice sheet
  • the extinction of the polar bears
  • the drying-up of Peru’s water supply
  • the western US turning into a tinderbox
  • With three degrees, we can look forward to:

  • the death of the Kalahari desert
  • the regularization of the "El Nino" effect
  • the final death of the Amazon
  • the drying-up of the Indus and Colorado Rivers
  • the underwater descent of New York City
  • With four degrees:

  • ocean waters rise significantly, drowning Alexandria (Egypt) and Bangladesh
  • famine spreads as deserts expand

With five degrees, civilization-wide collapse will ensue, and with six degrees you get massive death on the level of the great dieoff of 251.4 million years ago, of the Permian-Triassic boundary.  The "six degrees" chapter employs an interesting device – to allow readers to imagine what a "six degrees" abrupt climate change would be like, Lynas employs a geological description of what happened to cause the Permian-Triassic boundary.  The Permian-Triassic boundary was an event, triggered by a rather warm period in Earth’s natural history 251.4 million years ago, and amplified by massive volcanic eruption, which wiped out 94% of all then living species: the Great Dieoff.  The Age of Dinosaurs occurred significantly afterwards.  Lynas’ vivid, compelling description of it is meant to illustrate what the worst-case scenario of human-caused climate change could bring.

Lynas’ narrative of climate change is, of course, extrapolative, but he enlivens it with a great deal of skilful writing.  The author is a fount of stories to flesh out in detail the extent to which things could go radically, horribly wrong, without excessive sentimentality and with descriptive flair.  An example from the "two degrees" chapter:

One rather unamusing irony of global warming is that the retreat of the northern polar ice cap is sparking a new petroleum gold rush, bringing further fossil fuels onto world markets which – when burned – will inevitably make the climate change problem worse.  According to some estimates, a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves lie under the Arctic Ocean, in areas which have historically been seen as undrillable because of thick drifting ice floes.  Massive investments are already being made to tap into this economically valuable resource: the Norwegian government is spending billions of dollars building a liquefied natural gas terminal of Hammerfest, whilst a massive gas find in Russian Arctic waters – estimated to contain double Canada’s entire reserves – has sparked an unseemly scramble among oil majors to partner with Russia’s giant Gazprom corporation to exploit it. (79-80)

One of these climate changes will, probably, we are told, be the result of human burning of Earth’s trapped fossil-carbon endowment.  As the temperatures get hotter, the oceanic icecaps are replaced by open, heat-receptive ocean space, the forests dry out and burn down, the permafrost releases its carbon dioxide, and eventually (and most horrifyingly), the methane hydrates are released from the ocean floor in great explosive bursts:

The methane air clouds produced by oceanic eruptions would dwarf even the most severe modern battlefield explosive blast weapons, and explosions in the largest clouds could generate explosive blast waves able to travel faster than the speed of sound.  With a supersonic blast, it is the pressure from the shockwave itself which ignites the mixture, pushing out an explosive front at speeds of 2 kilometres per second and vaporizing everything in its path.  (250)

This is the secret behind the idea of "runaway global warming," such as that which filled the atmosphere of Venus with carbon dioxide 800 million years ago, making its average temperature 500 degrees Celsius, day and night, even though the length of its day spans 243 Earth days.

The last chapter, "Choosing Our Future," is the weakest, yet Lynas is a bit more sanguine than Al Gore in telling us the facts about humanity’s situation.  As with his previous book High Tide, Lynas endorses the "Contraction and Convergence" plan – a sort of global "carbon" rationing would grant the world equal rights to fossil-fuel burning, while mandating a vast contraction in carbon burning:

In order to make the system flexible and efficient, however, it is crucial that an international market in emissions permits is established – allowing poor countries to sell allocations to the rich, generating significant revenue in the process.  This earning from a global carbon trade could help tackle poverty as well as ensuring that poorer countries have the option of pursuing a low-carbon development path.  (277)

As is often the case with the students of climate science, there is little comprehension of the role of imperialism in the creation of the present-day world economy.  "Poor" countries are "poor" because they’ve been used as resource sinks by the "rich" countries," and some extra "carbon credits" for them to trade would do them little when they are trapped on IMF/ World Bank debt treadmills.  A better solution would be to go off of the capitalist standard altogether, and to put an end to the business interest that rewards the grasping urge to dominate the world, militarily or economically.  An intermediate step would be to allow the "poorer" (read: less powerful) nations more economic as well as political sovereignty over their own affairs: see M. Shahid Alam’s Poverty from the Wealth of Nations for a historical description of the beneficial effects of the economic sovereignty of nations.  

At any rate, ultimately a universal, democratic interest in human survival must be granted a paramount position of power.  Here Lynas suggests:

Ultimately, however, this is a political decision, and one in which all the world’s people must be able to participate in an informed, democratic way if the decision is to be observed and supported by everyone.  (273)

Of course, and here Lynas is not specific, the problem with "democracy" as such is that economic decisions are generally not made democratically, but by an oligarchy of corporate asset-managers.

The "mandatory" discussion of alternative energy sources is here, along with a "realistic" pronouncement that "the reality is that only a combination of serious energy efficiency and a wide variety of new technologies offer any hope of a way out of the (coming energy) crisis." (292)  The fact of the matter is that if "alternative energy" is to matter at all, there must be a binding agreement to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, something nobody, not even Mark Lynas, is even discussing.  (Note to activist Kosers: TELL YOUR CANDIDATES that statements proclaiming "alternative energy" as the solution to climate change are FATUOUS and that they must do better.)  The problem is ultimately not one of controlling fossil-energy consumption, but of controlling fossil-energy production: oil follows Say’s Law, in which what is produced is always consumed.  Conversely, if it isn't produced, it can't be consumed.

Little attention is paid in this book to nuclear energy, to the possibility of massive tree-planting programs to create a compensatory "carbon sink" for carbon dioxide emissions, to carbon sequestration.  Perhaps in the forthcoming second edition Lynas will discuss these things in further depth.

There is a graph toward the end of this book (274-275), according to which the world will reach a degree of global warming by doing a certain amount of fossil-fuel burning.  If global emissions peak by 2015, we will be at the two-degrees stage; if global emissions peak by 2030, we will be at the three-degrees stage, and so on.  Lynas states the dilemma in actually trying to achieve the strictest of these stages as follows:

Many other groups are caught on the horns of the same dilemma: that only by advocating ‘politically unrealistic’ CO2 concentrations can runaway global warming be avoided.  But then what is politically realistic for humans is wholly unrelated to what is physically realistic for the planet.  (276)

Thus my diary on "realism" achieves its particular focus.  Political "realism" is by its nature a capitulation to established power, and as Lynas recognizes, it isn’t quietism but radicalism which needs our support today.  We need to concentrate our efforts on making "unrealism" possible, for therein lies the best chance at survival.

Originally posted to Cassiodorus on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 06:19 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for getting off of the capitalist standard (22+ / 0-)

    or for any sort of "unrealism" which will refocus public energies on ecosystemic integrity.

    "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

    by Cassiodorus on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 06:21:09 PM PST

  •  Truly frightening (4+ / 0-)

    The idea that Big Oil might want the arctic ice to go away so they can open up new sources of oil was a new one to me.  Ouch.

    The "average" citizen of your country is looking back at you in the mirror.

    by suburi on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 06:30:27 PM PST

  •  recommended and preordered the book from (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DrSpalding, Cassiodorus

    Amazon

    How do you know a Republican is lying? Ask one: If the Republicans can lower gas prices for 60 days before an election, why won't they do it all the time?

    by ca democrat on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 06:57:13 PM PST

    •  As I have (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, Mary Mike, ca democrat

      Ordered from amazon.ca, although it was a tough call to not wait until Powell's has the hardback in January, 2008.

      I will share the book with my family and friends (and perhaps some acquaintances too that are not so like-minded) and I pointed them all to this diary as well.

      The diary isn't very uplifting, however, I have to rec it.

      0047710420123535161533 1541012554254325504300
      (-4.88, -4.15)

      by DrSpalding on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 07:00:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Powell's is indeed a treasure (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus, Mary Mike

        Along with a couple of volcanoes (one very active, the other just 'not dormant') and a rose garden with a stunning view of said volcanoes, it's one of Portland's prime tourist attractions.  Powell's City of Books is exactly that, and they stock more used books than they do new books.  Best yet, they stock them all side by side.

        Conservatism is a function of age - Rousseau
        I've been 19 longer'n you've been alive - me

        by watercarrier4diogenes on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 10:19:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Preoder? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ca democrat

      that must be the second edition.  The first edition is already out...

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 07:02:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Book is now on my list (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, xaxado

    What a terrific diary.

    Contraction and Convergence seems like the way to go. People interested in this might like to read Capitalism 3.0 by Peter Barnes.

    As we engage the sustainability crisis, we are going to have to give something up. What will it be? Which values will we stick with, to live or die by, and which values are we willing to modify or surrender?

    Which is most important: humanity or property?

    BTW, repeating a comment I made above, please try to order the book from a local independent bookstore before defaulting to Amazon.

    •  I reviewed Capitalism 3.0 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxado

      here...

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 07:51:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Community Garden (4+ / 0-)

        I just spent the last hour reading your previous reviews and have to thank you for this wonderful resource!  It's an exciting time.  There will be a new paradigm, as the weaknesses of capitalism become clearer.  Buckminster Fuller ended his life talking about the dynamics of sustainability on "spaceship earth", but he began his working career learning to repair textile machinery in the long-lost mills of New England.

        Our new paradigm will of necessity be one of repair, of healing.  These are prizes won of humility and observation.  Bush and Cheney represent the end of the mining mentality -- a bitter end at that.  The way forward will be incomprehensible to them -- the core model may well be the community garden.

        The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein -- best book ever, I nominate for a Nobel Prize!

        by xaxado on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 08:25:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just back from your review (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus, In her own Voice

        ... of Cap 3.0. You appear to be convinced that something called eco-socialism is the only way to go. I do not disagree, but then I also don't quite know what you mean by eco-socialism.

        Here's what I thought was great about Barnes' ideas. 1) Modifies capitalism (rather elegantly), but doesn't try to replace it entirely. Pragmatically, this seems easier to do. 2) Harnesses the energy of capitalism to achieve necessary goals. Given that capitalism is unquestionably energetic, I think this is quite clever. 3) Provides a clear path towards two things that we need-- conserve and converge.

        Are there problems with his ideas? Oh yeah, lots. What will inspire governments to make the changes he prescribes? Why will the wealthy and powerful support this change? Why will these trusts be trustworthy? How will per-capita payouts to poor populations actually reach the poor people? Etc.

        But on the whole I think Barnes has made a magnificent contribution to the "commons" of potential solutions to the sustainability crisis.

        •  Generally speaking -- (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirtfarmer

          I find if far more "pragmatic" to replace the anarchy of production that occurs under capitalism with a general, orderly retreat into a system with a free association of producers (as described by Joel Kovel in The Enemy of Nature).  The most complete description that I've seen of this possible system has been given in Saral Sarkar's book "Eco-socialism or Eco-capitalism?"  Sarkar's notion of "socialism" as such is largely fortified by the works of Mohandas Gandhi.  One of the most essential ingredients in this reconfiguration will be in the dissolution of cities as imperial entities, a suggestion fleshed out by anarcho-primitivist author Derrick Jensen.  Essentially, this will be a planned retreat to what Thomas Jefferson called a "nation of yeoman farmers."

          It's really difficult for me to understand precisely which energies of capitalism need to be harnessed to do anything more than preserve the capitalist system.  One of the main defects of the capitalist system as such is that it moves too fast, and so the critique of Teresa Brennan in Globalization And Its Terrors applies to the problem that Marx once called the "Man-nature metabolism" in an offhand comment in Capital.  As competing business move to gain market shares, they outstrip the ability of the natural commons to "provide resources," with a consequent degradation not only of nature but also of labor.

          But, moreover, the energies of capitalism are also used to create centers of accumulation out of zones of extraction, a movement which has physically finite limits, as the academic writer Paul Prew notes in his piece on "The 21st Century World Ecosystem."  Capitalism may be "dynamic," but its dynamism is oriented in two directions: the expansion of the realms of profit and of consumer choice.  Having existed for five hundred years, the capitalist system has still bypassed (at the very least) the bottom 40% of global wage-earners who still subsist on less than $2/day.  

          We need a system that, instead, responds to everybody while at the same time constituting a permanent retraction of the predatory relationship to global ecosystems.  I don't see how capitalism will be able to do it.

          "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

          by Cassiodorus on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 06:48:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ah, now I remember you (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassiodorus, In her own Voice

            We seem to have some of the same interests, and to have read a few of the same books.

            There's two big questions that I'm concerned with: What would be a sustainable social/economic system with values that I could support, and how do we transition from where we are now to where we need to be.

            I don't know that we can answer the first question with much specificity, but I feel that we do know some of the general outlines. Like for example, we can probably agree that it can't be the extreme form of planet-devouring capitalism we see today.

            As for managing the transition, that's something we can be doing right now. The first thing to do is to back slowly away from the extreme capitalism mentioned above. Living wage, right to unionize, national health care, and fair trade are all examples of current progressive issues that I see as taking us a little bit back from the brink. Once implemented, they will create a more egalitarian society with more humane values, and that puts us in a better position to decide on the next steps.

  •  Send out to Dkos Environmentalists (4+ / 0-)

    with a strong endorsement ... and then returned to read for a second time.

    While we have our disagreements, you force me to think -- which I greatly appreciate -- and, well, you and Lynas are each right, in your ways, about "political realism".

  •  An acquaintance gave me an issue of GRANTA, the (3+ / 0-)

    magazine of new writing.  It appears that each issue is a collection of writings on a single subject.  The issue she gave me, "Granta 83, Fall 2003" is titled THIS OVERHEATING WORLD.  From "Midsummer in April", an account of the ever earlier arrival of spring in Holland, to "The Greenland Pump", an analysis of research done on the no longer dependable currents that have kept England from the ravages of a winter to be expected at that latitude, it's enough to curl your hair.  Doesn't seem like much progress has been made in the intervening 3.5 years.

    If you can find a used copy of it from Powell's or somewhere else on the web, I recommend you grab it.

    Conservatism is a function of age - Rousseau
    I've been 19 longer'n you've been alive - me

    by watercarrier4diogenes on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 10:39:50 PM PST

  •  Cassiodorus, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, DBunn

    I do appreciate you, your intellect, your effort to contribute to the resolution of our current dilemma in the Big 3 E's--Energy, Environment, Economy.  Any effective solutions we might devise must include all three.

    I believe that the political will and the willingness of the people to accept the reality of our current condition is our biggest obstacle.  And it may be insurmountable...so sometimes, as we continue to suggest means and maintain hope, we must also master within ourselves the pain and frustration of the helplessness we feel in coping with the limitations we face in dealing with humanity's innate fear of change.

    Finding your own Voice -- The personal is political!

    by In her own Voice on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 06:48:48 AM PST

    •  Is there a fourth E? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirtfarmer, In her own Voice

      Education?

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 06:49:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point-Definitely part of effort and means! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus

        Finding your own Voice -- The personal is political!

        by In her own Voice on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 06:56:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  NCLB must be scrapped (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirtfarmer, In her own Voice

          but has anyone even bothered to come out against it?

          "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

          by Cassiodorus on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 07:04:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed, but (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassiodorus, DBunn, Cassandra Waites

            wise and realistic efforts to ameliorate our current crisis of energy, climate, and overpopulation cannot wait for the young or the teachers to be re-educated--or for the laws to change to allow the beginning of such.  So scrapping NLCB is not the solution, but just one of the means we must employ to make sustainable any progress we might make in our present-day efforts.

            Also, being a psychotherapist, I must add that education--presenting reality or confronting people with the reality of their conditions and their self-sabotaging behavior does not assure that they will choose to recover and encounter their subconscious fears.  Maintaining denial of the truth before their eyes--becoming blind, deaf, and numb to that sensory/intellectual/emotional awareness is often the only way they feel they can survive the onslaught of overwhelming truth--and the feelings of helplessness that come with.  It is quite threatening to the reptilian and mammalian brain's core security to accept the truth of conditions over which the individual feels s/he has no control.

            So perhaps mastery of fear and courageous adaptation is what needs to be taught.  And hope encouraged, even in the face of dire consequences--- perhaps dignity in the face of death or the end of all things known must be valued as a significant part of the human experience on a changing planet.

            Finding your own Voice -- The personal is political!

            by In her own Voice on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 07:34:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The education problem (3+ / 0-)

              If you look at the forty-odd diaries I've put out on DKos since I started doing it a year ago, most of them have centered around books and have in fact been book reviews.  The coming generations will very likely have to do reading, as necessary to find out what must be done to bring about a future, as neither corporate TV nor corporate radio nor corporate movies will clue them in.  Yet our schools present reading as an unsavory obligation, in their rush to "demonstrate skills" so as to improve test scores and make AYP goals.  We need to see this as bad news.

              "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

              by Cassiodorus on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 07:54:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    I read the review of this some time ago in the New York Times book section and forgot all about it.  Off to get my copy now, thanks for the rescue too!

  •  Beautifully Written Diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    Scary, of course, but it sounds like a book I must have.

  •  Real Climate review and Hansen's leadership (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, Cassiodorus

    Thanks for an excellent review.

    FYI, Real Climate just did a review a few days ago.

    Also, you say nobody is discussing a binding agreement to keep the fossil fuels in the ground.  Jim Hansen has been doing just that, and he's starting to get a lot of attention.  He believes the main problem is coal (since without it even burning all the remaining easily accessible oil and gas won't put enough carbon into the atmosphere to trigger dangerous climate change), and that the initial major focus needs to be on stopping construction of new coal plants.    

    Jim's home page is here, and includes most everything he's written in the last decade.  (Note the link at the top to sign up for his mailing list.)  For those who don't know him, Jim is the U.S. government's chief climate scientist and probably fair to say the world's leading climate scientist in terms of his influence on other scientists.  He is pushing his colleagues very, very hard and is starting to see results.

    Of the various documents on his site probably his testimony to the House Global Warming Committee last spring, How Can We Avert Dangerous Climate Change?, is the most cogent.  The abstract:

    "Recent analyses indicate that the amount of atmospheric CO2 required to cause dangerous climate change is at most 450 ppm, and likely less than that. Reductions of non-CO2 climate forcings can provide only moderate, albeit important, adjustments to the CO2 limit. Realization of how close the planet is to ‘tipping points’ with unacceptable consequences, especially ice sheet disintegration with sea level rise out of humanity’s control, has a bright side. It implies an imperative: we must find a way to keep the CO2 amount so low that it will also avert other detrimental effects that had begun to seem inevitable, e.g., ocean acidification, loss of most alpine glaciers and thus the water supply for millions of people, and shifting of climatic zones with consequent extermination of species.

    "Here I outline from a scientific perspective actions needed to achieve low limits on CO2 and global warming. These changes are technically feasible and have ancillary benefits. Achievement of needed changes requires overcoming the spurious argument that developed and developing countries have equivalent responsibilities, as well as overcoming special interests advocating minimalist or counterproductive actions such as corn-based ethanol and liquid-fuel-from-coal programs."      

    You will note that none of the candidates' platforms come even close to meeting this need, which I'm afraid is a problem.
     

    •  Well it's good that someone's mentioning this -- (0+ / 0-)

      though I hardly see how the world is going to keep the fossil fuels in the ground when they're such valuable commodities, and when everyone's playing the capitalist game.

      The candidates need to have signs tacked onto their backs which say: "saving capitalism for a dying planet."  Each and every one of them.

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Fri Nov 30, 2007 at 08:24:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Six degrees (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    So when the author states six degrees increase, is he referring to centigrade or farenheit?   Big difference between the two.

    Or is 6 degrees just an abstract differentiation between levels of destruction?

    •  Centigrade/Celsius and a little more on Hansen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, Cassiodorus

      Fahrenheit is pretty much never used in science papers or journalism, although sometimes newspaper editors will convert the units.  Also, technically "centigrade" is an out-of-date term; now "Celsius" is used.

      But speaking of six degrees, I should note Jim Hansen believes we need quick and massive action because "fast feedbacks" from polar ice loss will result in a three degree change tipping into a six degree change without an additional anthropogenic push.  I don't know if Mark discusses that in his book.

  •  Great diary, thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    Sorry i was too late to rec it.

    "He has poisoned our water forever." - Hunter S. Thompson on Richard M. Nixon

    by Bob Love on Fri Nov 30, 2007 at 02:02:14 AM PST

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