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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book review of the graphic novel: "Climate Changed - a Personal Journey Through the Science"


I just finished reading a paperback copy of Philippe Squarzoni's graphic novel: "Climate Changed a Personal Journey Through the Science".   I made a point of ordering a paper copy rather than reading the Kindle book version because I intend to donate this copy to my local library, despite my misgivings about the carbon footprint of printing and shipping paper books.

I am not in the habit of reading graphic novels, they are much more prevalent in Europe, but I felt compelled to read this particular book because the author balances a personal and well researched science perspective on the subject.  The book blends Philippe's journey to research the issue with detailed scientific information portrayed by talking heads representing climate science experts.  He uses charts, graphics and a few photographic images to illustrate his story points, but most of the novel centers around his beautiful hand rendered drawings.  This makes for a compelling read as his personal narrative involves discussions with his wife and the decisions he makes to adjust his lifestyle based on his insights into this issue.  In a sense the book reads like storyboards for a documentary film and one comes away from it feeling as if one has been watching a movie.

Philippe explores every aspect of the climate change issue, not just the climate science itself but the personal, societal, financial, and political aspects amongst others.  He creates a comprehensive perspective and struggles as I do with the disappointing lack of political will
to address this ongoing crisis on a global scale.  

He quotes a number of experts and scientists who have interesting views on potential solutions to the larger problem and ends by saying: "Just because the answer is filled with gloom doesn't mean the question was pointless.  To care how these questions are being asked shows that we care about the future.  And who knows?  I could be wrong.  The story isn't over."  

I agree with the author that humanity has not yet awoken to this issue, and by the time we do the situation will be dire.  By that point our options will be very limited and as he say's: "We will accomplish this change under the worst conditions.   Forced by circumstance.  And way too late."

This is not to say that the book is all doom and gloom, it is a rich and easy read filled with glimpses into his life and lifestyle as a graphic novelist.  He  begins by exploring his childhood as a point of reference for the way things were as a way of contextualizing the impending changes that will occur in the world.   The arc of the story jumps around in unpredictable ways juxtaposing autobiography with talking heads and statistical information so it keeps you on your toes.   Clearly, it took years to create this book and I noticed that recent events such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster are absent.  I admire the enormous effort it takes to create a graphic novel comprising over 460 pages of renderings.

Anyone who feels that they want to learn more about Climate Change will find this book offers a thorough overview of the science and thoughtful insights.