Airing Tonight: Nat’l Geographic’s 6 Degrees (w/video)

The National Geographic Channel is premiering 6 Degrees tonight (8PM EST/9PM PST), which tracks the consequences of catastrophic climate change, degree by degree (YouTube preview):


Terrifying stuff, to be sure, the show is not without controversy, as it focuses on doomsday scenarios, but perhaps it’s best to see what we’re facing at the upper limit.  

For a more measured prediction (but equally troubling, imo), a previous essay on the Nine Tipping Points.


Skip to comment form

  1. The show is not without controversy, because of its doomsday scenarios, but still worth checking out.  

    Here’s the link.

    • pfiore8 on February 11, 2008 at 01:13


    • RiaD on February 11, 2008 at 02:03

    don’t have cable, but i’ll go check out the vid & website!

    love your tam-man!

    • kj on February 11, 2008 at 02:07

    will go check air time now!

  2. 200 channels, but no NGTV! Grrrrrr…. But thanks for the heads up. If it ever airs on any of 180 sports channels, I’ll get to see it.    

    • Edger on February 11, 2008 at 03:41

    We might not like what it does very much, but who are we to complain if we disrupted it?

    • Edger on February 11, 2008 at 04:40

    The tension between energy development and climate change is close to reaching a snapping point.

    Excerpts from two articles in the past 24 hours:

    NASA Scientist] Jim Hansen has long been a thorn in the side of the White House. [Now he has a stark warning for Britain:

    The trap was sprung in February 2006. The White House ordered that Dr Jim Hansen was to be denied the oxygen of publicity forthwith. He was to be banned from appearing in newspapers and on TV and radio. He was effectively to disappear.

    It was the kind of treatment that might be reserved for terrorists, criminals or, in a totalitarian regime, for political dissidents.

    Hansen, however, was none of these things. The director of Nasa’s renowned Goddard space science laboratories was a dry, rather self-effacing climate change scientist with a worldwide reputation for accurate and high-quality research. What had happened?

    “All I had done was to give a talk to the American Geophysical Union, setting out how 2005 had been the warmest year on record,” recalled Hansen, in a visit to London last week.

    “But someone at Nasa got a call right from the top, from the White House. They were very annoyed.”

    It was not quite all he had done. Hansen had also e-mailed a transcript of the talk to a raft of reporters before he spoke. “I did make sure it hit the headlines,” he recalls modestly. In his talk he declared that humanity, especially Americans and Europeans, were burning fossil fuels so fast that they risked transforming Earth into “a different planet”.

    Government scientists were not supposed to say things like that. Shortly afterwards the head of Nasa’s public affairs office, one of George Bush’s political appointees, banned Hansen from speaking to the media.

    “Then they also forced us to remove all our data about the latest temperature rises from the website,” says Hansen. “I realised they really were going to stop me communicating.”

    It looked like a classic case of a naive scientist being ruthlessly crushed by a government machine.

    In reality, however, it was Hansen who laid the trap – and the Bush administration that got caught. A few more calls to the media and soon the story of the lone scientist gagged by the mighty Bush administration hit the front pages all over the world, carrying Hansen’s warning about climate change with it once again.

    It is a warning that Gordon Brown appears not to be heeding. Hansen’s visit to London last week was partly inspired by the decision to approve construction of a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent.

    This, Hansen wants to warn us, is a recipe for global warming disaster. The recent warm winters that Britain has experienced are a clear sign that the climate is changing, he says.

    “We are fast approaching a series of tipping points. Changes such as the melting of the Arctic ice cap, the acidification of the oceans and the global rises in temperature could be approaching the point of becoming irreversible.

    “In the face of such threats it is madness to propose a new generation of power plants based on burning coal, which is the dirtiest and most polluting of all the fossil fuels. We need a moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants and we must phase out the existing ones within two decades.”

    Such warnings will not be popular. Coal provides 25% of global primary energy needs and generates 40% of the world’s electricity. In 2006 about 5.4 billion tons were burnt – a 92% increase over the past 25 years. China alone is building two new coal-fired power stations a year with CO2 emissions rising by about 10% annually.

    Coal also offers energy security. Some 70 countries can mine their own coal and there are enough reserves to last at least 150 years.

    Hansen, however, has come to the conclusion that coal will destroy the planet. “If we release all that carbon into the air it will be catastrophic,” he says.

    At the heart of what Hansen is saying lies a welter of new research into what kind of increase in CO2 can be borne by the Earth’s atmosphere.

    In the preindustrial 18th century there were about 280 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the air. Since then the 1,000 billion tons of CO2 released by humanity has raised that to 385ppm – with another 49 billion tons being added to that each year.

    The global scientific consensus is that humanity can just about afford to let CO2 levels creep up so long as they level off at around 450ppm. This would mean accepting rises in global temperature averaging 2-3C.

    Hansen used to accept such ideas – but he is now preparing a new research paper showing that even this limit is far too high.

    “If humanity wants to preserve a climate resembling that in which civilisation developed, then the palaeoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest CO2 must be reduced from its current level to between 300-350ppm. A 350ppm target is only achievable by phasing out coal use,” he says.

    Global meltdown: scientists isolate areas most at risk of climate:

    Now a team of climate experts has ranked the most fragile and vulnerable regions on the planet, and warned they are in danger of sudden and catastrophic collapse before the end of the century.

    In a comprehensive study published Tuesday, the scientists identify the nine areas that are in gravest danger of passing critical thresholds or “”tipping points””, beyond which they will not recover.

    Although the scientists cannot be sure precisely when each region will reach the point of no return, their assessment warns it may already be too late to save Arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet, which they regard as the most immediately in peril. By some estimates, there will not be any sea ice in the summer months within 25 years.

    The next most vulnerable area is the Amazon rainforest, where reduced rainfall threatens to claim large areas of trees that will not re-establish themselves.

Comments have been disabled.