Six Degrees Could Change the World

After a power nap, I decided to "clear up" some of the long forgotten podcast videos on my iTunes, and this one caught my eyes: "Six Degrees Could Change the World: Part 1".

Six degrees? Does it have anything to do with "Lonely Planet Six Degrees" on Discovery Travel & Living Channel? Whatever, sounds cool to me.

Or maybe not.

It turns out that it has nothing to do with traveling tips, but I'm glad that I watched this show instead, believe me, it's worth your time, too.

Ok, I know global warming is taking its toll, and it's worsening with every second that passes by, literally; I just never thought that it's that bad.

One might think: oh, come on, it's just 6 degrees, how bad could it be?

Here's how bad it could be, probably by the end of this century:

At one degree of warming, the Arctic is ice-free for half the year, the South Atlantic -- typically void of hurricanes -- experiences coastal hurricanes, and in the western U.S. severe droughts are plaguing residents, causing shortages in global grain and wheat market.

At two degrees of warming, polar bears struggle to survive as glaciers increasingly melt away. Glaciers in Greenland begin to disappear, while coral reefs are vanishing. Insects migrate in strange new directions, and who the hell knows what kind of damage it would bring to the ecosystem? All we know is that massive pine beetle migration would kill the Whitebark forest and thus wiping out bears' key source of food.

At three degrees of warming, the Arctic is ice-free for ALL SUMMER! The Amazon rainforest is drying out, the ice cap of Alps melts, and El Niño's intense weather pattern becomes the norm. The Mediterranean and parts of Europe wither in searing summer heat, actully they got a taste of catastrophic heat wave back in 2003, in which thousands died across Europe.

If the world warms by four degrees, oceans could rise, taking over coastal cities, e.g. Bangladesh would be washed away, and Venice submerged. The disappearance of glaciers may deprive many of fresh water. Northern Canada's agriculture could boom and a Scandinavian beach could be the next tourism hotspot. A part of Antarctica could collapse, causing water to rise even further. So many major cities may dry up that it endangers our survival.

At five degrees of warming, uninhabitable zones could spread, snow pack and aquifers feeding big cities could dry up, and climate refugees could run in the millions. Human civilization could begin to break down with this drastic of changes to the climate. The poor would likely suffer the most.

At six degrees of warming, the oceans could be marine wastelands, the deserts could march across continents, and natural disasters could become common events. The world's great cities could be flooded and abandoned. This could be "the doomsday scenario".

This could be our world at six degrees of warming, am I exaggerating? You'd better check it out yourselves and take a really good look, National Geographic's "Six Degrees" website has an interactive world map that lets you look at the changes that could take place with each degree of global warming. The site also has six short video previews -- one per degree Celcius of global warming -- of what our world could look like in the future.

The program's based on Mark Lyman's book "Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet", looks like I've found myself a new item on my reading list.