Tag: Philippe Squarzoni

I’m A Little Worried Now

Overall though I thought that this book was EXTREMELY successful in educating the reader about climate change in the medium of the graphic novel. The book is a quick read, I finished in about 4 hours. I definitely recommend it to someone who is interested in learning a little about climate change.

Philippe Squarzoni’s book Climate Changes: A personal Journey Through the Science left me slightly depressed. It left me questioning my own life and made me take an honest glance at my future. The book does a wonderful job at taking you through the facts about climate change that isn’t overwhelming. It presents the information in a fun way as a graphic novel. I really enjoyed reading this book and what I am taking away from it.

 

After reading this book I took a step back and really thought about why this book made me feel as bad as it did. It is quiet scary to think about the fact that in only 15 years from now it will be 2030. The fear becomes so much more real knowing that climate change is set to happen in my very near future. It is even more frustrating knowing that the world really isn’t taking this seriously. I feel like the world is slowly inching its way towards that direction, when we need to be sprinting there.

Not only is it going to affect me in my lifetime, but will also be a huge issue that my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren are all going to have to deal with. This is going to heavily impact their lifetime, especially because we are not taking advantage of the little bit of time we have left to do anything about it.

 

Thinking back to The Time Machine, I remembered that I wasn’t emotional effected by what I had read, because it was so far ahead into the future. I knew it wouldn’t affect me or anyone else. It was over 800,000 years versus only 15. After reading this I definitely feel worried about the future.

 

Everybody’s Fault: Philippe Squarzoni Tells Us Why We Should Care About the Climate

Some media buzz was recently generated around the U.S. senate’s historic vote to recognize the existence of climate change, but failure to attribute it to the actions of humanity. At the same time, a recent study has also shown that only around half of the U.S. population believes in humanity’s role in climate change. While the influence of dark money in U.S. politics certainly deserves a fair amount of the blame for these occurrences, there is still something to be said about a population full of citizens who are ignorant about climate change, voting into office a senate full of politicians who are ignorant about climate change. For better or worse, this direct representation of U.S. citizens and their lack of knowledge is the U.S. democracy working as intended, and that is just one of many reasons why climate change is such a troubling problem. Nevertheless, climate change is an issue so massive that the rising sea of ignorance surrounding it is not entirely surprising, and this is why a piece of literature like Philippe Squarzoni’s graphic novel / documentary, Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through Science, is so important.

As the title suggests, Squarzoni’s graphic novel is a “personal journey,” mixing facts and hard science with the author’s reflections on his own autodidactic experience of understanding the complicated processes behind climate change. In this way, the narrative moments of the graphic novel give the reader room to breathe between intense passages of climatology fundamentals and the political discourses carried on by the scholarly, expert subjects of Squarzoni’s interviews. More importantly, these moments also seek to bridge the gap between reader and author, that is, they remove the hierarchy of the author as the instructor of the reader, instead allowing the reader to learn about climate change alongside the author. Squarzoni begins his graphic novel by lamenting his prior ignorance about climate change: “I’m saying ‘global warming,’ I’m writing ‘greenhouse gases’ every other sentence, and ‘reducing emissions’… and I don’t have a clue what I mean”. (Squarzoni, 32). It is by questioning his own use of these important climate change buzzwords that he is able to introduce the reader to the jargon of climate change without being condescending, and this is in part how Climate Changed helps hook an inexperienced audience and bring them to his side.

Indeed, Squarzoni’s attempts to level himself with his readers serves him well, as one of his primary concerns throughout Climate Changed is the ways in which everybody, political elite and citizen alike, is intertwined with the creation and exacerbation of climate change. He does not so much admonish the common argument that everything is the fault of oil companies, but rather reminds the reader that those companies exist because we as a society are constantly demanding fuel and energy from them. He illustrates this on page 217 with a sketch of a human that is constructed entirely from the technologies and products that create this demand. If Squarzoni is ever accusatory of the reader, it is here when his drawing posits that we as a society are consumers, and that because our lives are so dependent upon the products that we consume, we essentially are these products.

There is something damning about this image of humanity reduced to its frivolous, technological obsessions, and while Squarzoni’s cynical critique of consumer culture may come across as alienating, Squarzoni is sure to emphasize his own role within this culture. His thoughts surrounding the image on page 217 emphasize role of “us” within this cultural-economic system, and through this important semantic distinction, he implicates himself: “Our way of life and CO2 emissions are inextricably linked… All our activities are part of the climate crisis, all our wants… every product we purchase.” (Squarzoni, 216. Italicization added.) When he condemns our role in climate change, he condemns his own role as well, and this is where Squarzoni’s work somewhat differs from writers of climate change who focus exclusively on the fault of the elite.

Such a difference can be illustrated through a comparison between Climated Changed and Christopher Hayes’ “The New Abolition”, in which Hayes is concerned about, (with very good reason), the disastrously large amount CO2 that the oil industry could potentially emit from the use of its untapped reserves. He suggests that one solution to this problem will be the collapse of the oil industry through divestment and political pressure, but he seemingly fails to recognize that regardless of whether the industry struggles, there will still be a demand for fuel as long as our society remains unchanged. The bottom line is that whether the oil industry does burn through all of its fossil fuel reserves or instead leaves them in the ground, there is an enormous economic price to pay, and that either scenario is incompatible with our society as it is today. Hayes recognizes this to the extent that his slavery analogy focuses on the unrivaled worth of cotton to the pre-civil war southern economy, but the analogy falters when considering that the material function of fossil fuels cannot be easily replaced. In other words, motor vehicles run on gasoline, not money, and this is where Squarzoni’s emphasis on “we” warns us that the oil industries are not going to be the only ones to suffer without fossil fuels. Indeed, he makes this point precisely when he states: “I’m just like everybody else. I don’t want to live like some poor person in an underdeveloped country.” (Squarzoni, 214), implying that society cannot sustain its technological, consumerist state without fossil fuels. Here the difference between Hayes and Squarzoni is that while Hayes’ conclusion applauds and encourages the work of environmental activists against large oil companies, Squarzoni’s work drives at why that activism is meaningless without the greater cooperation of society and why that cooperation is so hard to attain.

Perhaps then Squarzoni’s biggest challenge is to convince his readers to join that cooperation while his own skepticism towards progress nevertheless permeates his work. He emphasizes the importance of solidarity, but shows images such as the visual metaphor on page 378, where he and his companion Camille, acting as environmental superheroes, are defeated by insurmountable corporate interests. Likewise he talks about humanity’s gradually closing doorway to escape from climate destruction and asserts on page 452 that we are not going make it through. The one struggle of Climate Changed is thus how to deliver its dire news without giving way to despair.

While Squarzoni certainly indulges himself and his readers in a new found sense of pessimism, he nevertheless attempts to close the novel on a hopeful note by leaving the reader with an image of himself continuing his work. It may not be the kind of happy conclusion the reader wants to see, but it realistically depicts the current state of climate change, that things are not over yet and that there is still much left to do. After everything else Squarzoni tells the reader, solving climate change might seem impossible, but giving it a meager try does not seem like so much to ask, and that is the value of Squarzoni’s ability to break down the nuances of such a complex issue into an accessible dialectic.

 

Works Cited:

Fischer, Douglas. “”Dark Money” Funds Climate Change Denial Effort.”Scientific American Global RSS. N.p., 23 Dec. 2013. Web. 03 Feb. 2015.

Goldenberg, Suzanne. “US Senate Refuses to Accept Humanity’s Role in Global Climate Change, Again.” The Guardian. N.p., 22 Jan. 2015. Web. 3 Feb. 2015.

Sampler, Ian. “Many Americans Reject Evolution, Deny Climate Change and Find GM Food Unsafe, Survey Finds.” The Guardian. N.p., 29 Jan. 2015. Web. 3 Feb. 2015.

Squarzoni, Philippe, and Nicole Whittington-Evans. Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science. Trans. Ivanka Hahnenberger. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2014. Print.

Is there any hope for the future?

In reading the Climate Change, I found it informative and also disturbing. Primarily because it seems that the only way to help curtail a environmental disaster is by everyone pulling together to make a difference. I think that great, but can we really do that? It seems like it will take people to actually put into action steps to change the way we live our lives. It made me look at my life and want to change several things that I do to assist in what is a mass movement. The author really expounded on the history which included the rise in temperature, green house gases which help me understand just how global warming is occurring. The way the writing was presented I found it easy to read and follow, even though I was trying to figure out some of the graphics but I think he was trying to make a correlation between facts and how it plays out in everyday life. As a society I hope that we can come together and cause a positive change to our environment. If we just get rid of the SUVs alone that would help greatly. I do not understand how some people are so greedy that they cannot for the better good admit that global warming is real and actively do something about it.

 

Climate Changed: An Impossible Solution to an Impossible Problem

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science is an absolutely terrifying book that absolutely everyone should have to read. Presented in a graphic novel format, it uses a combination of images and written facts to convey the truly awful situation in which we have found ourselves in regards to our climate.

The book is told through the frame story of the author discovering facts about climate change that he then passes on to the reader. His struggle in finding a reasonable way to individually impact climate change is at the heart of the novel. As he discovers more, he uses images of esteemed climate scientists, particularly members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These experts relay facts to us directly, emphasizing their level of scholarship and the seriousness of the information they present. They focused quite a lot on the exorbitantly high carbon levels we emit as a planet every year, and how this could seriously affect our planet. In fact, there is no way to change warming in the next twenty years. Only drastic changes now can make a real effect and stop us from rising the temperature over 3.9 degrees over what we have now. This threshold of 3.9 degrees is the turning point past which our planet will be thrown into turmoil. In order to reduce worldwide emissions to a level at which this threshold will not be crossed, we would all have to live at a standard of living equal to that of a malnourished person. This, combined with the problems of governmental processes that prevent important legislation from being passed, ensures that the situation is near hopeless. Government officials are too focused on being well liked, and people are too used to a high standard of living, to consider real change that could benefit the earth.

Throughout the novel, the author struggles with the question of what he can do to stop climate change. At the beginning, he sneers at those who drive SUVs and other large, energy consuming cars, while he takes energy consuming trips around the world. As he uncovers the facts, he slowly reconsiders. When he learns that a transatlantic flight can emit over 1,100 kg of carbon, he forgoes a free trip to Laos. He gives up worldwide trips to comic conventions at which he could have shared his work. However, the dilemma central to the novel is that one person cannot possibly impact climate change in any significant way. The tragedy of these missed opportunities is that, while they were good intentioned, they mean nothing if no one else will step up and help reduce their emissions as well. This is hard, due to the way our culture has evolved. The rich take what they can only because they can, and the lower classes are pushed to emulate the rich. Therefore, at any opportunity, we are driven toward extravagance, which leads to incredibly high carbon emissions. As Squarzoni says, “Quite justifiably, people say, ‘I’m not reducing my consumption, skipping my vacation to the Antilles, if I keep seeing the man at the top heading off to his friends’ yachts on their helicopters’” (432). This disregard extends so far that people actively deny the science in order to justify their extravagant lifestyles. An article from the independent says, “Only half of Americans believe climate change is mostly man-made, whereas a whopping 87 per cent of scientists say it is” (A). This disparity clearly displays the depth of our indifference to this problem. This is especially true for politicians, who pander to voters with these beliefs. An article from the Huffington Post says, “But, last week, the U.S. Senate decided to vote on whether climate change was real and, if so, whether that was due, in part, to human activity. (Spoiler alert: turns out that, according to the scientists in the Senate, climate change is real — but barely — and humans do not contribute to that change)” (B). In addition to this, Congress introduced bills limiting the EPAs power to control air pollution. This step backward seems unfathomable considering the science.

Squarzoni’s novel answers the question of why we do little to solve climate change—the problem seems far off. Even though climate change is making the glaciers of Greenland melt, causing the land to rise, and this is documentable today (C), it is hard to see this change in our everyday lives. One cold day in winter hits, and people immediately think, “If global warming is real, how is it so cold today?” No one wants to investigate the science or care about a problem that does not seem to affect daily life.

Another factor in this indifference is the terrifying concept of giving up wealth to solve the problem. It seems unfathomable that we should have to give up our standard of living for the greater good. However, Christopher Hayes of The Nation reminds us that we’ve done it before. In regards to the Civil War, he says of the Confederates, “The abolitionists told them that the property they owned must be forfeited, that all the wealth stored in the limbs and wombs of their property would be taken from them. Zeroed out” (D). At the end of the war, we as a nation forced people to give up what they believed was their personal property in the name of freedom. They did it, however begrudgingly, and we are so much better for it. While it would be extremely difficult, it would be possible to reduce our emissions by giving up some material possessions as a planet. However, today’s consumer culture almost ensures that no one will seriously consider this idea.

The lack of interest in ending climate change is incredibly dangerous. Between the ignorance towards accepted science, blatant denial, and just complete lack of sense of importance ascribed to this issue, serious climate change seems inevitable. Squarzoni’s book conveys this hopelessness, but also a sense of urgency. He communicates a hope that more attention will be brought to the issue. Even though politicians don’t care, if enough individuals do, change can happen. Hopefully the accessible but educational format of Squarzoni’s book will help disseminate this important information and inspire change, however small it may be.

 

Sources:

(A) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/americans-vs-scientists-data-shows-disagreement-on-climate-change-and-gm-food-10016606.html

(B) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-silver/the-dc-disconnect_b_6572204.html

(C) http://time.com/3691920/climate-change-iceland/

(D) http://www.thenation.com/article/179461/new-abolitionism?page=full#