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Film: Six (Celsius) Degrees Could Change the World (1 hr 35 min)
1.) When scientists talk about a change of 6C globally they are not referring to fluctuations in daily temperatures
but to a global average change. What were conditions like when the globe’s average temperature was 6C cooler
than today?
The Earth was in the grip of an Ice Age around 18 000 years ago.
2.) How many parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is considered to be a dangerous level?
400 ppm. What level are we currently at?
380 ppm
3.) What would the world look like if it were 1C warmer?
Ice free northwest passage for half the year, flooded cities in Asia (Bengal), hurricanes, severe drought
affecting food production, emergence of new deserts, etc.
4.) How are warmer temperatures affecting the migration of crops?
Champagne region of France is becoming too warm for traditional champagne grapes, so they are starting
to grow them in England, along with olive trees.
5.) What is involved in the carbon footprint a common product such as a cheeseburger?
All the energy consumed to make up the component parts of the cheeseburger and the greenhouse gasses
produced as a result= the feedstock for cattle, growing lettuce, wheat for bun, milking the cattle, processing
milk for cheese, and processing cattle for meat, trucking (transporting) the various parts, keeping the
meat cold, plus methane gas produced by the cattle
6.) So, what is the carbon footprint of a cheeseburger in the US?
200 million metric tones, more than all the SUV’s in the United States
7.) How might an increase of 2C affect the planet?
Rapid changes in the biosphere, especially marine life of the oceans, dying off of coral reefs, flooding of
island states, melting of Greenland’s glaciers, etc.
8.) What significant ocean system could break down that could magnify the warming effect?
Carbon sink provided by tiny sea creatures that absorb carbon dioxide from which they build their shells,
but warmer water changes its acidity which dissolves their shells and prevents them from forming new
ones. This loss in turn will affect the marine life food change and loss of biodiversity. When the oceans can
no longer absorb Carbon dioxide it will escape into the atmosphere adding to the levels of the atmosphere.
9.) What is a glacial Moulin and why are they so dangerous in terms of speeding up glacial melting?
It is a hole in the top of a glacier where rivers of meltwater run straight through to the bottom of the
glacier creating a hydroplane on which huge masses of ice get propelled faster into the sea where it will
melt and add its mass to ocean levels.
10.) How much would the melted Greenland Ice field raise sea levels by?
7m which would flood London, Bangkok, New York Shanghai, etc.
11.) In what way is the melting of Arctic Ice such a concern and a potential “runaway train”?
Lack of ice means more sunlight can be absorbed by the oceans which in means less heat is reflected back
into space, creating even more heat and more melting…the warmer it gets the faster it gets warmer.
12.) How much warmer does it have to get before we are arguably at a “tipping” point of climate change?
13.) What major changes will a 3C warming cause for the planet?
Arctic is ice free all summer, Amazon rainforest dries out, snow caps on the Alps disappear, El Nino’s
extreme weather becomes normal, heat waves would be the norm, temperatures in Europe would more like
what is currently typical of the middle east, etc.
14.) What was the first global warming disaster to affect a wealthy nation in 2003 and what was the impact?
A heat wave across Europe that killed 30 000 people, over 14 000 of them in France over a period of a few
weeks. On August 10th alone, 2500 to 3000 people died, mostly elderly.
15.) What else happened during the 2003 heatwave that was an indication of another unforeseen side affect of
warming? trees and other vegetation started to release carbon dioxide instead of being able to absorb it as
photosynthesis broke down.
16.) What ominous changes occurred in the Amazon river basin in 2005?
Tributaries dried up, forest fires spread and killed large quantities of trees needed to produce rainfall,
therefore making conditions drier.
17.) What conditions are common to El Nino patterns and how might a 3C warmer climate be affected by them?
Trade winds and ocean currents move east instead of west across the Pacific bringing torrential rainstorms
to South America and drought to Australia and Indonesia, with 3C warming this could mean even more
energy to drive hurricanes whose fuel is warm ocean water.
18.) What would the planet be like with a 4C average global warming? Delta areas, home to a billion people
will be flooded, other areas will become deserts, west Antarctic ice would melt, major losses of fresh water
such as the glacial source of the holy Ganges River in India.
19.) How will attempts to prevent flooding be different for developing countries compared to developed
countries? Developing countries like India, Indonesia, etc. do not necessarily have the billions of dollars
that would be needed to invest in hydrolic dams like developed countries such as England has.
20.) How many refugees might there be with warming of 5C?
100’s of millions of climate refugees.
21.) What would the consequences of an average global warming of 6C be?
There could be mass extinctions, ocean wastelands, massive desertification on land, a global catastrophe
22.) What is ironic about our current global warming crisis due to the burning of fossil fuels, given the Earth’s
past history?
The last major mass extinction occurred due to global warming, whereby the earth corrected its climate
imbalance by the “killing” off of mass quantities of life that were then buried by eroded material. This
corrected the abundance of CO2 levels in the atmosphere by “sinking” them. The irony is that we have
extracted them now as our sources of fossil fuels, and are releasing that stored carbon into the atmosphere
as we burn them for energy, creating a previous cycle that led to mass extinction.
23.) What are some practical changes we must make in order to prevent warming of this scale?
Reducing the use of energy that uses fossil fuels that create greenhouse gasses, use energy more efficiently,
such as unplugging appliances to avoid wasted “vampire” energy draws, doubling fuel efficiency of
vehicles, using solar power, wind power, tidal power, geothermal energy, etc. starting now!
24.) How much time do scientists believe we have to avoid going over the tipping point into accelerated global
warming and climate change?
As little as 10 years
25.) Make a commitment: what 5 things can you commit to changing in your lifestyle to reduce your
ecological footprint and cut down on energy consumption?
Answers will vary. Discuss.