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Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science Paperback – April 8, 2014
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*Starred Review* French cartoonist-journalist Squarzoni, who practices his craft in the vein of Joe Sacco and Guy Delisle, digs deep into the science, economics, politics, international policies, and ethics that together force cataclysmic climate change into our very near global future. While the experts he interviews throughout this volume present accessible yet technically specific details about how we got where we are and what possible ways ahead are practical, it is by inserting himself and his personal exploration of responsibilities and choices that Squarzoni makes the most demanding call to action: we cannot address as mere individuals the inequities visited on the planet, but without recognizing our personal responsibility, we can’t address it culturally or politically in a timely manner. Squarzoni’s realistic, black-and-white art presents expressive faces, a geographic range of naturally dramatic landscapes, and the occasional succinct hyperbole, one of the most potent of which riffs on Eddie Adams’ iconic 1968 Vietnam War execution photo, here with a gas pump replacing the original handgun. The plethora of contributing experts, a detailed index, and its multifaceted exploration make this required reading for both the general public and subject specialists. --Francisca Goldsmith
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On one level, Climate Changed provides its readers with an overload of scientific information. Squarzoni quotes myriad scientists and researchers to present the reader with all of the research he has come across which he believes is essential for the readers to know. At times, these sections of the book dragged on and felt repetitive. However, I realize that this component of the book is entirely crucial for attaining a clear sense of what climate change truly is and how much it can affect our lives. With that being said, it felt to me that these sections of the book were not necessarily incorporated well with the “graphic novel” concept. Seeing 10 panels in a row of a scientist giving his or her statement about various aspects of climate change looked boring and bland in graphic form. I would not like to see this aspect of the book cut out entirely, though I would like to see the repetitive parts (the parts about nuclear energy and social inequality in a climate-changed world felt excruciatingly long to me) trimmed down a bit, and I would have liked to see a more graphically creative way of blending these sections into the book.
On the other hand, there is the “personal journey” aspect of Climate Changed. In these sections of the book, Squarzoni tells his own story of how he approached the idea of writing about climate change. In addition, he talks about the changes that he personally makes in order to help the planet (e.g. limiting himself to one flight per year) and the difficulties that arise from this self-restraint. To me, these sections of the book felt much more visceral for numerous reasons. The graphics and images of his trips to America or his comparisons to movies and novels were much more captivating than merely images of French scientists sitting at a desk and spewing out facts. Additionally, in these sections Squarzoni was able to take difficult topics and break them down to a level which anyone could easily comprehend. He used analogies to a dish being pushed over the edge of a table or a man skydiving sans parachute to really illustrate the direness of this situation. Finally, hearing one man tell of how to make a personal change just seems much more convincing than hearing a scientist present us only with statistics and facts. In the personal journey sections, Squarzoni was truly able to bring this climate change narrative to life and leave an impact on the readers.
In the end, there is no definitive answer to the climate change problem. However, this book provides readers with the necessary facts in order to make informed environmentally conscious decisions in life. While I cannot say that Squarzoni or any of the scientists he quotes have convinced me to ditch my car and go live simplistically out in the woods like Henry David Thoreau, I certainly feel inspired to try to make a series of small yet positive changes in life. While Climate Changed may not have been an entirely engrossing read, I would consider it severely important for anyone who wishes to be more aware about the global climate change issue.
I have personally recommended it to an ecologist professor who uses excerpts for some of his classes. There is a considerable amount of detail here -- it goes way beyond carbon emissions, and looks at many factors behind the rise of global temperatures, as well as the far reaching impacts climate change will have on the planet.
My own quibble was the talking heads were a little repetitive and visually dry, but I can see that it helped structure the information-heavy information.