Four degrees away from collapse.

20th December 2012

Last week the Global Carbon Project (GCP) released its annual carbon budget, which similarly to the World Bank report predicted that the world is on track to become four to six degrees hotter.

The executive director of the GCP, Dr Pep Canadell, summed it up best in his statement:

"Unless we change current emissions trends, this year is set to reach 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels, we are on the way to an unrecognisable planet of 4 to 6 degrees warmer by the end of this century."

So what does a four-degree rise mean for us humans?

As author and environmental activist Mark Lynas predicts in his book Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, a four-degree increase will lead to "Civilisational collapse, like the blast wave of a neutron bomb, will sweep around the globe".

We've summarised Lynas's scary four-degree findings below:

• Dramatic rise in sea levels: displacement of millions of people living in low-lying and coastal areas

• The whole planet would be without ice for the first time in nearly 40 million years

• Worldwide agricultural drought: food crisis would see millions on the move in search of food and water

• Dramatic weather shifts: heatwaves of undreamt-of ferocity

• No snowfall or rain in certain areas: vegetation will wither, turning a green landscape into baked-earth browns

• Permafrost will thaw: around 500 billion tonnes of carbon estimated to be frozen in Arctic soils will begin to escape (read Dr Karl's great explanation of what this means)

Makes you think about what you can do now to affect climate change for the better.

[Pic via]