National Geographic: Six Degrees Could Change the World (2007)



Starring: Alec Baldwin Director: Ron Bowman Rating

Product Description
In a special broadcast event National Geographic explores the startling theory that Earths average temperature could rise six degrees Celsius by the year 2100. In this amazing and insightful documentary National Geographic illustrates one poignant degree at a time the consequences of rising temperatures on Earth. Also learn how existing technologies and remedies can help in the battle to dial back the global thermometer

U-Tube: (1 Hr 36 Min)


Preview One Degree (2:08 minutes) on Nat Geo Channel:


Carbon Dioxide in Earth's Atmosphere

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The Keeling Curve of atmospheric CO2 concentrations measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory.

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth's atmosphere is approximately 392 ppm (parts per million) by volume as of 2011[update][1] and rose by 2.0 ppm/yr during 2000–2009. [1][2] The concentration with respect to pre-industrial concentration of 280 ppm has increased roughly exponentially with a growth rate of 2.2% per year in the last decades[2] Carbon dioxide is essential to photosynthesis in plants and other photoautotrophs, and is also a prominent greenhouse gas. Despite its relatively small overall concentration in the atmosphere, CO2 is an important component of Earth's atmosphere because it absorbs and emits infrared radiation at wavelengths of 4.26 µm (asymmetric stretching vibrational mode) and 14.99 µm (bending vibrational mode), thereby playing a role in the greenhouse effect in addition to other factors such as water vapour.[3] The present level is higher than at any time during the last 800 thousand years,[4] and likely higher than in the past 20 million years.[5]

Current concentration

Monthly average CO2 concentrations in 2003. High CO2 concentrations of ~385 ppm are in red, low CO2, about ~360 ppm, is blue.

In 2009, the CO2 global average concentration in Earth's atmosphere was about 0.0387% by volume, or 387 parts per million by volume (ppmv).[1][6] There is an annual fluctuation of about 3–9 ppmv which roughly follows the Northern Hemisphere's growing season. The Northern Hemisphere dominates the annual cycle of CO2 concentration because it has much greater land area and plant biomass than the Southern Hemisphere. Concentrations peak in May as the Northern Hemisphere spring greenup begins and reach a minimum in October when the quantity of biomass undergoing photosynthesis is greatest.[7]

Sources of carbon dioxide

Natural sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide include volcanic outgassing, the combustion of organic matter, and the respiration processes of living aerobic organisms; man-made sources of carbon dioxide include the burning of fossil fuels for heating, power generation and transport, as well as some industrial processes such as cement making. It is also produced by various microorganisms from fermentation and cellular respiration. Plants convert carbon dioxide to carbohydrates during a process called photosynthesis. They gain the energy needed for this reaction through the absorption of sunlight by pigments such as Chlorophyll. The resulting gas, oxygen, is released into the atmosphere by plants, which is subsequently used for respiration by heterotrophic organisms and other plants, forming a cycle.

Most sources of CO2 emissions are natural. For example, the natural decay of organic material in forests and grasslands, such as dead trees, results in the release of about 220 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide every year.[citation needed] In 1997, human-caused Indonesian peat fires were estimated to have released between 13% and 40% of the average carbon emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels around the world in a single year.[8][9][10] Although the initial carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the young Earth was produced by volcanic activity, modern volcanic activity releases only 130 to 230 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year,[11] which is less than 1% of the amount released by human activities.[12]

These natural sources are nearly balanced by natural sinks, physical and biological processes which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. For example, some is directly removed from the atmosphere by land plants for photosynthesis and it is soluble in water forming carbonic acid.

There is a large natural flux of CO2 into and out of the biosphere and oceans.[13] In the pre-industrial era these fluxes were largely in balance. Currently about 57% of human-emitted CO2 is removed by the biosphere and oceans.[14] The ratio of the increase in atmospheric CO2 to emitted CO2 is known as the airborne fraction (Keeling et al., 1995); this varies for short-term averages but is typically about 45% over longer (5 year) periods. Estimated carbon in global terrestrial vegetation increased from approximately 740 billion tons in 1910 to 780 billion tons in 1990.[15]

Burning fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum is the leading cause of increased anthropogenic CO2; deforestation is the second major cause. In 2008, 8.67 gigatonnes of carbon (31.8 gigatonnes of CO2) were released from fossil fuels worldwide, compared to 6.14 gigatonnes in 1990.[16] In addition, land use change contributed 1.20 gigatonnes in 2008, compared to 1.64 gigatonnes in 1990.[16] In the period 1751 to 1900 about 12 gigatonnes of carbon were released as carbon dioxide to the atmosphere from burning of fossil fuels, whereas from 1901 to 2008 the figure was about 334 gigatonnes.[17]

This addition, about 3% of annual natural emissions as of 1997[update], is sufficient to exceed the balancing effect of sinks.[18] As a result, carbon dioxide has gradually accumulated in the atmosphere, and as of 2009[update], its concentration is 39% above pre-industrial levels.[2]

Various techniques have been proposed for removing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in carbon dioxide sinks.











Earth's CO2 Home Page


Current chart and data for atmospheric CO2


CO2 Data Set:

Original data file posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Thursday April 5, 2012

Measuring Location:

Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii

Data Source:

Scripps CO2 Program UCSD / Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Why is CO2 significant?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the chief greenhouse gas that results from human activities and causes global warming and climate change. To see whether enough is being done at the moment to solve these global problems, there is no single indicator as complete and current as the monthly updates for atmospheric CO2 from the Mauna Loa Observatory.

What is the current trend?

The concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are increasing at an accelerating rate from decade to decade. accelerating from decade to decade. The latest atmospheric CO2 data is consistent with a continuation of this long-standing trend.

What level is safe?

The upper safety limit for atmospheric CO2 is 350 parts per million (ppm). Atmospheric CO2 levels have stayed higher than 350 ppm since early 1988.


Current Data for Atmospheric CO2



The world's most current data for atmospheric CO2 is measured at the Mauna Loa Observatoy in Hawaii. Measurements are made and reported independently by two scientific institutions: Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Monthly data is posted below.

Mauna Loa CO2 Data Sets:


Scripps CO2 Data

Annual Data | Atmospheric CO2


Annual Levels for Atmospheric CO2

Atmospheric CO2 (ppm)The 2011 average annual concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (Mauna Loa Observatory) is 391.57 parts per million (ppm). The 2010 average is 389.78 ppm.


For the past decade (2002-2011) the average annual increase is 2.07 ppm per year. The average for the prior decade (1992-2001) is 1.6 ppm per year. Annual data for 2011 was first posted January 5, 2012, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States.

Since the 1958 start of precision CO2 measurements in the atmosphere, the annual mean concentration of CO2 has only increased from one year to the next. The CO2 data below provide a simple view of the annual trend.


Global Temperature Update


The Most Current Data on Earth | Global Temperature

March 15, 2012

For Earth, February 2012 is the 22nd warmest February on record since 1880. February 1998 was the warmest. February 1893 was the coolest. At an average of 12.1°C, last month's global temperature is 0.37°C higher than the 20th Century average.

The reported data and information was posted March 15, 2012 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its National Climate Data Center (NCDC) in the USA.

Annually, 2011 is the 11th warmest year on record. The year 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest years.

More details about global temperature are available in the State of the Climate reports (Global Analysis) at the NOAA-NCDC website. These reports present preliminary, global data that has been gathered from monitoring stations and leading institutions around the world. The reports include a Global Hazardssection that gives a global update on drought & wildfires, flooding, storms, severe winter weather, and ecosystems impacts. A Snow and Ice section reports on snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere and sea ice extent in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

NOTE: Global temperatures set out in the CO2Now graphic (above) are computed from NOAA estimates of global average temperature for the 20th century and adding the current 20th-century anomaly.


Here’s the review of the 6 degree book:


Six Degrees: The Book


Author Mark Lyna


Photo: Mark Lynas

sIn possibly the most graphic treatment of global
 warming yet published, noted science writer and 2006 National Geographic Emerging Explorer Mark Lynas explains in his latest book, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, how Earth’s climate will be impacted with every degree of increase in temperature—and what we need to do about it, now, to avert disaster.

Scientists have established that the current episode of global warming of about 0.7 degrees Celsius (1.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in the last century has pushed Earth’s temperatures up to levels unprecedented in recent history




. A 2007 report by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that at no time in the past 1,300 years has our planet been as warm as it is now, while records from the deep sea suggest that temperatures are now within a degree of their highest levels in 1 million years.


According to the IPCC, Earth will warm up between 1.4 degrees Celsius and 5.8 degrees Celsius (roughly 2 degrees Fahrenheit to 10 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century. Six degrees may not sound like much, but as this sobering and engrossing book warns, such a rise in average temperature would be enough to destroy much of life and reshape our world almost beyond recognition. Global warming is already a fact: the snows of Kilimanjaro are melting away; massive boulders on the Matterhorn, snowbound for centuries, have begun to plunge in dramatic and dangerous rockfalls; and atoll nations of the Pacific are disappearing inch by inch under the waves.

Basing his conclusions on peer-reviewed articles in leading climatology, geophysics, biology, and Earth system science journals, Lynas explains in unflinching detail the processes and effects of this unprecedented phenomenon, degree by degree. He draws on the latest research and sophisticated computer models as well as paleoclimatic reconstructions of the past that show conclusively that today’s climate change is a new and different challenge, not the routine swing of a slow climatic pendulum.

Lynas, journalist, campaigner, and broadcaster on environmental issues, is also the author of High Tide: News from a Warming World. He is a frequent contributor to New Statesman, Ecologist, Granta, and Geographical and other periodicals as well as the Guardian and Observer newspapers in the United Kingdom. He lives in Wolvercote, Oxford, U.K.






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