Six degrees by Mark Lynas is the most poignant wake-up call for humanity about fighting global warming that I have read so far. Sometimes it sounds like science fiction, as the possible consequences of a runaway global warming are almost beyond imagination. But it is all based on hard science (Mark Lynas does not invent anything, he draws everything from the scientific litterature), from the state-of-the-art computer projections to the lessons from the past buried in sediments and ice cores.
I would like to reproduce here his vivid conclusion for his chapter "six degrees", as a reminder of what is at stake at the on-going Copenhagen conference.
"Extreme global warming may not be a survival crisis for humanity as a species, but it will certainly be a survival crisis for most humans unfortunate enough to inhabit a rapidly warming planet, and that situation is surely bad enough. Stalin was wrong to say that a million deaths is merely a statistic; that is one of the reasons why he is still hated today. Every human death, of every baby, every mother, every brother, father, or sister, will be a unique tragedy about which the whole world should grieve - not the least because such an outcome is still today avoidable. [...]
So far as we yet know, Earth is the only planet in the entire universe that has summoned forth life in all its brilliance and variety. To knowingly cut this flowering short is undoubtedly a crime, one more unspeakable even than the cruelest genocide or most destructive war. If each person is uniquely valuable, each species is surely more so. I can see no excuses for collaborating in such a crime. As the postwar Nuremberg trials established, ignorance is no defense, nor is merely following orders. To me the moral path lies not in passively accepting our destructive role, but in actively resisting such a horrendous fate.
As I stated at the beginning of this book, nothing in the future is set in stone. We still have the power - though it diminishes every day - to alter te ending of this terrible drama. It need not yet end in tragedy, and to make this point more clearly the next and final chapter will examine our options for avoiding each successive degree rise in temperature. There, and only there, hope lies.
As Dylan Thomas wrote:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."