2020 - 2021 Sources
2020 Lynas_Our Final Warning Six Degrees of Climate Emergency
Individual Books, Reports, Journal Articles
Sample Sources
Under-Estimating the Costs of Climate Change

In 2007 Mark Lynas published Six Degrees Our Future on a Hotter Planet, which walked through the potential implications of climate warming year degree by degree. In 2020 he published an updated version of the book: Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency

The books can contribute significantly to our thinking about climate risk, which is ultimately more of a function of uncertainties about the future than certainties. But books like this suffer from a fundamental problem. By the time you’re finished you’ll have forgotten more than 50% of its content, and you’re likely to forget the rest over the next couple of weeks. That makes it a lot harder to take ongoing advantage of the massive amount of research that Mark Lynas did in assembling the books. 

That’s why the Climate Web exists. Not just to help you leverage the knowledge in Mark Lynas’ books, of course, but to manage the knowledge associated with hundreds of books and reports, and thousands of articles and websites. 

With respect to Mark Lynas latest book, the screenshot below illustrates that we’ve extracted factoids, arguments, dates, degree-by-degree climate impacts etc. from the book (different categories of extracted materials are color- and icon-coded so you always know what you’re looking at - but we won’t get into the details of that here). 

Don’t be put off by the number of “child thoughts” shown above. The real point of the Climate Web, and the real power of TheBrain software we use, is not to organize lists like that shown above, but to be able to slice and dice the information contained there into fit-for-purpose actionable climate knowledge kits (stories), much like climate LEGO blocks. In effect, the Climate Web contains 150,000 information building blocks that can be used in this way. 

In the sections below we’ll summarize some of the key conents of Mark Lynas’ book. We hope it will encourage you to dig deeper into the book (it’s heavily referenced with respect to the points made below), and the topic of climate risk more generally. At the bottom of the page we’ll provide you with links you can use to jump to relevant places in the Climate Web

It’s worth noting that Mark Lynas does provide a lot of source materials in his book, many of which are already in the Climate Web. We’d like to link individual thoughts to source materials to make it easy to dig deeper, but he’s made it a bit difficult to systematically do that so it’s a pending project.  

The Climatographers

Lynas makes a number of thought-provoking points in the book, and we’ve pulled a few of them together here:

  • A 6oC world by 2100 has been considered within the bounds of plausibility by several IPCC reports
  • Arguably, the chances of a 6oC world by 2100 are similar to the chances of achieving a 1.5oC world by 2100
  • Could the AMOC (Atlantic Current) collapse?
  • If we’re unlucky with positive feedbacks from thawing permafrost in the Arctic or collapsing tropical rainforests, then we could be in for five or even six degrees by the century’s end.
  • It is literally hard to imagine a 6oC world
  • Models have estimated that the permafrost feedback could add 0.2oC to global warming, but new indications suggest it could be 0.5 - 1oC
  • One argument is that the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum was triggered by permafrost melt
  • Permafrost thaw could happen much faster than models anticipate, releasing additional tens of billions of tons of carbon
  • The global implications of an ice-free Artic?
  • Was the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) temperature rise of 5-9oC 56 million years ago triggered by a 2oC increase?
  • We are emitting more carbon today than during the period leading to the Permian extinction 250 million years ago - and a temperature rise of 6oC
  • We are running an experiment somewhat analagous to Chernobyl
  • We have no way to know for sure how we will respond to the food shocks of a 4oC world
  • We should beware of the risk of suddenly ending climate engineering once undertaken
  • What if we lose a lot of the Earth’s cloud cover?
  • While seemingly inconceivable, the odds of a 6oC world by 2100 are considerably higher than that of a plane crash or nuclear plant meltdown

Interesting Factoids

The book presents A LOT of interesting factoids like those below. The question is, how can factoids like these be combined into climate stories that are effective with specific individuals and audiences. 

  • An ice-free Arctic could absorb heat equivalent to 1 trillion tons of CO2 emissions, accelerating warming by 25 years
  • Arctic soils could store a trillion tons of carbon
  • At the end of the Permian period, 250 million years ago, a mass extinction event wiped out 90% of life on the planet - it was associated with a 6oC rise in temperature
  • Between 2006 and 2008, soaring global food prices put 100 million people back into poverty
  • Cities are “moving south” by 20 km per year, or 54 meters per day, 2 meters per hour, or half a milimeter per second
  • Coastal protection for Miami alone could cost $130 billion
  • Each day over 30o C reduces maize productivity by 1%, up to 2% if combined with drought
  • Each ton of emitted CO2 is responsible for the loss of 15 tons of Himalayan glacier ice
  • Every ton of CO2 released results in 3 m2 of Arctic ice being lost
  • For a 1.8m sea level rise, annual damage costs could exceed $25 trillion
  • Greenland’s ice sheet can warm suddenly. About 12,000 years ago it warmed by 15oC in just a few decades
  • Large areas of the PNW are now too dry to support regeneration of Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine after fires
  • On average global climate zones are already shifting at a rate of 5 meters per day
  • Seasonal glacier meltwater supplies the needs of more than 200 million people
  • The 6 zetajoules of energy being added to the oceans per year equates to the equivalent of 3 Hiroshima bombs worth of energy being added to oceans ever second
  • The AMOC transfers heat to the North equivalent to 500,000 nuclear power plants
  • The amount of Arctic sea ice lost since 1980 would cover 40% of contiguous U.S.
  • The IPCC should be carrying out studies of the implications of high-end scenarios, not just low-end scenarios
  • The UK MET Office’s super computers can run 14,000 trillion arithmetic operations per second

Some Interesting Numbers

Again, the book presents A LOT of interesting numbers like those below.  We’ve integrated thousands of such numbers into the Climate Web for purposes of delivering actionable climate knowledge.  

  • $1,000,000 The per person cost of fortifying coast-lines in smaller and often poorer U.S. communities
  • $1,400,000,000,000 annual cost of sea level rise flooding by 2100 in 130 major cities
  • $400,000,000,000 costs faced by U.S. to fortify coast-lines over the next 20 years
  • 1/2 meter of SLR will flood land currently occupied by 50 million people
  • 1.7 million people will be displaced per cm of SLR
  • 2.8% of GDP Damages from 1.8m of SLR in 2100 ($25 trillion)
  • 6 zetajoules of energy are being added to upper ocean every year, compared to 0.5 zetajoules consumed by humans
  • 10%   The GDP impact of a 5o C world in which 5% of humanity is flooded annually
  • 50 billion tons of methane are stored as methane hydrates under the East Siberian Arctic ice shelf
  • 95% percentile for estimates of SLR in 2100 has gone from 1.8m in 2013 to 3m in 2017

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