I just read The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change, which I’m about to highly recommend to you and anyone you have ever known. I’ll even tease you with pretty previews of the book’s pages, below. But first, let me start with an admission: Environmentalists have a reputation for lacking in the humor department.
This stereotype is unfortunate. My colleagues here at Greenpeace and most of my own crunchy friends are genuinely witty people with good senses of humor. Good enough to make me laugh soy-milk out of my nose once I’m alerted to the kale that was stuck in my teeth all day. And websites like Grist have done a great job bringing some LOL’s to the WTF’s inherent in environmental reporting.
But our subject matter can be overwhelming in scope: global climate disruption, deforestation, human rights violations abound, freshwater depletion, ocean acidification… sorry, I just stopped listening to myself to avoid the temptation to hide in bed forever.
Much like environmentalists, today’s economists don’t typically earn a popular reputation for being especially funny. But Dr. Yoram Bauman, the “Stand Up Economist,” has a flair for humor in face of serious problems that he’s solving with well-established economic tools and analyses. Through the quirky cartoon illustrations of Grady Klein, Dr. Bauman has cranked out a series of light-hearted guides to microeconomics, macroeconomics and now… The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change.
This graphic book takes readers on a eyeball-friendly journey through our Earth’s history, the tumultuous evolution of its climate system, explanations of key science supporting our understanding of climate change, and specific economic solutions that Dr. Bauman say we’ll need to employ to insure ourselves from potentially catastrophic global warming. You’ll also learn why our climate is like a compost pile, the types of one-liner jokes told by single-cell organisms and why human’s aren’t so great at cleaning up dog poop in public spaces (hint: Garrett Hardin).
Not only is it entertaining, it’s packed full of facts, presented as cartoons and peppered with a few transparently-unrealistic zingers. You can read it in an afternoon, and so could your kid, or your grandparent. And thanks to the illustrations and simple analogies, I’d bet they will retain more of the information.
Here’s a rundown of why I liked the book, with a few minor critiques at the end.
Real Climate Science, Trans-disciplinary Presentation:
Core to this book’s utility is its accurate portrayal of science. Dr. Bauman’s work cites the most contemporary data from scientific authorities like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Data Center. When graphs and exact scientific models are used, Bauman and Klein attribute the work right there on the page, so you can check the source yourself. This is the coolest climate context since SkepticalScience.com. #GeekingRightNow.
Grady Klein’s simple illustrations help cut through wonky concepts from a wide rage of scientific and professional fields–chemistry, biology, geology, atmospheric physics, evolution and hydrology, to name a few illustrated in this book. By gradually unraveling some of these core concepts and then synthesizing them, the reader gets a fast-tracked breakdown of decades of scientific breakthroughs and predictions for our future climate.
Solutions = Reducing Emissions = Reducing Fossil Fuel Use
There’s no getting around this, after Bauman presents the science of anthropogenic climate change as understood by today’s experts. Evidence of humanity’s use of dirty fossil fuels is the proven link to the unnatural variability we’re now seeing in our climate. Bauman doesn’t beat around the bush: if we want to avoid runaway climate change, we’ll need incentives to phase out the coal, oil and gas that cause global warming, perhaps by first ending the billions of dollars in annual subsidies taxpayers surrender to these dirty, outdated industries.
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