Page last updated at 21:34 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 22:34 UK

Climate book is judges' hot pick

Six degrees book cover (Fourth Estate)
National Geographic has produced a film based on the book

A book about global warming has won this year's Royal Society prize for popular science writing.

Mark Lynas' Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet has already been turned into a TV programme and is now almost certain to experience a jump in sales. The book explains how Earth will change for every degree rise in temperature - from droughts to mass extinctions.

Mr Lynas was presented with the winner's 10,000 cheque at a ceremony hosted by the UK academy of science.

The award is one of the major publishing events of the year in the UK. Previous winners have included Bill Bryson, Stephen J Gould, Roger Penrose, and Stephen Hawking.

Six Degrees uses published scientific data and interviews with leading researchers to illustrate the changes we could witness in a warmer world.

Professor Jonathan Ashmore, the chair of the judges, described the book as "compelling and gripping".

"It presents a series of scientifically plausible, worst-case scenarios without tipping into hysteria," he said.

"Six Degrees is not just a great read, written in an original way, but also provides a good overview of the latest science on this highly topical issue.

"This is a book that will stimulate debate and that will, Lynas hopes, move us to action in the hope that this is a disaster movie that never happens. Everyone should read this book."

The bookies' favourite had been A Life Decoded, the autobiography of genetics pioneer Craig Venter.

The six books shortlisted for the Royal Society's General Prize were:

  • A Life Decoded, by J Craig Venter (Penguin Allen Lane)
  • Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise, by Steve Jones (Little, Brown)
  • Gut Feelings by Gerd Gigerenzer (Penguin - Allen Lane)
  • Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, by Mark Lynas (Fourth Estate)
  • The Sun Kings, by Stuart Clark (Princeton University Press)
  • Why Beauty is Truth, by Ian Stewart (Basic Books)
  • The Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do, written by Rebecca Gilpin and Leonie Pratt and designed and illustrated by Josephine Thompson, won in the junior science books category.

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