Hello folks! I am back from vacation and will begin posting articles and illustrations related to my recent adventures in Hawaii later on this week. Expect an invasive species rant, a big one.
My current post is a review of a climate change graphic novel by Philippe Squarzoni, Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science. This is a large and in charge graphic novel (467 pages) that deftly covers the realm of climate change from the science to the socioeconomic impacts. Philippe Squarzoni, a graphic novelist of the political and historical persuasion, crafted this “novel” around interviews with nine experts in the arena of climate change, energy, and socioeconomic issues. Squarzoni does a fine job of explaining complex atmospheric concepts through clear and simple text accompanied by some amazing pen and ink illustrations. He covers the science of climate change, the causes, climate policy, tipping points, climate versus weather, climate deniers, the misrepresentation of climate in the media, and various types of impacts.
Where he truly shines is when he illustrates and writes about the different sources of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, our current and future energy portfolios, our individual and collective habits and choices, and the impacts of climate change on the poor and developing countries. What is our collective role in this mess? What can we do to dull the blow? How will we screw the poor (and future generations) if we do nothing? I found the section on climate migrants or climate refugees particularly compelling given the vast migrations we are currently seeing from parts of the Middle East and Africa. Most of these migrations are due to political conflicts but consider the fact that crime rises during the warmer months. What if all we had are “warmer months” all over the world? The levels of political strife and human suffering will be unprecedented.
The “personal journey” part of the title came from sections woven between interviews and fact-dense texts that focus on his own struggle with climate change and reflections on his life and youth. I love his musings on human perception whether it is his own perception of his childhood home or mankind’s perception of the planet earth based on a single photo. Including his personal thoughts and experiences elevates this book from simply an illustrated book on climate change to a meditation on life in the modern age. Personal reflections are needed when discussing climate change, an all-encompassing threat that moves at a glacial pace, in order to export it from the abstract to the here and now. Squarzoni does a great job of doing just that through his singular narrative style.
While, I applaud the breadth and depth of this book my one complaint is that he barely discusses the impacts of climate change on the natural world i.e. critters and plants. For a number of years I wrote, read, and spoke about the impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife so my disappointment is understandable. You and I may not necessarily be “experiencing” climate change but for some plants and animals climate change is already a threat to their very existence. Expect posts on this topic in the future.
Natural resources aside, this is an excellent read if you would like to gain a better understanding of the many different aspects of climate change. It is not a cheery read, it isn’t meant to be, but you will come away from it with a better understanding of climate change and an appreciation of nonfiction graphic novels. Personally I came away from it with a deep respect for Philippe Squarzoni and plan to read more of his work in the future.