Tag: Squarzoni

It’s the End of the World as we Know it… and I Feel Fine

On an educational and scientific level, climate change is a topic that is very important to me. I consistently find myself very aware of the fact that climate change is a serious problem facing our world, but is simultaneously a problem that no one seems to take all that seriously. However, in reading Climate Changed: a Personal Journey through Science, I find my climate change related anxiety somewhat eased. Not because I’m wrong to think that climate change is a serious problem, it is, but because one of the most difficult aspects of climate change is resolved through this book. That issue being the explanation of climate change itself, and how it functions. The idea of taking Climate Change and explaining it through the medium of comics is a genius idea. It is a perfect way of representing all facets of the issue visually which works very well in its favor because the facts and images work perfectly in tandem with one another and comfort me in the idea that this is the perfect avenue for people to truly understand the climate problem in a palatable way.

I, and many others, think that is the key to solving the climate problem is getting people invested. However, it is consistently the case that people feel so far removed from the subject that they can’t bring themselves to truly care about it. As stated in The Nation’s article The New Abolitionism, Global Warming is a concept similar to slavery that demands the American populace be shocked out of apathy into change. The primary difference being that slavery was something truly quantifiable that we could see happening right before our eyes. Climate Change is too, to some extent, though the outcomes and side effects are much less objectively objective. Yes, we can see the ice caps melting, we can see the deterioration of glacier national park, and we can observe the gradually rising temperature. The problem is that people have a tendency to explain away these effects as not being our fault. Arguably, this happened similarly with Slavery, so logically if history is to repeat itself, then eventually people will become shocked out of their apathy and stand up to do something to stop climate change. Hopefully this will not lead to a bloody war pitting brother against brother on the battlefield.

Now, I am not saying that Climate Changed is going to be the catalyst for something like that. Instead, I think that it is a book that will not so much shock people out of apathy, but will gradually win them over. It is a subtle beautifully illustrated depiction of what climate change is and what effect it will have on the world around us, and more importantly than that, why we should care. It takes climate change to its most basic level and tells in such a way that anyone at any age can understand it without dumbing it down. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the subject, and I highly recommend it to absolutely anyone who either doesn’t see it as a problem, or wants to know more about it. It has not completely eased my climate change anxiety, but I’m almost there.

Wait….climate what?

When you first hear the phrase “climate change” so many things come to mind you’re basically overwhelmed. There are so many facts and opinions that come to you, you probably dread reading an essay or editorial or pretty much anything with an excessive amount of facts. So when you first think that someone thought of an expressive way to convey a meaningful message your first thought is, huh? Now when most people think of expressive they get all deep and think of something complicated. But what is the most basic form of expression we have? Words. Books. Pictures. You take and idea or a problem and make it into something people have to get involved with and know more about with out being bored to death.This graphic novel was created specifically with that in mind. With the notion of understanding that most everyday people cannot just read a bunch of facts for an extended period of time and actually have them make sense, let alone enjoy them. That’s not to say that this novel did not have a lot of information..because it did, and the author tries to present them through a personal story that makes you think you’re not just reading cold hard facts. We go from the basic understanding of climate models to the upsetting reality of the impact that climate change will have on the earth. The whole idea of having the reader be distracted from all of the facts by the pictures is negated when we take a look at a scientist explaining nuclear energy for a million individual frames. Its little things like this that can cause a person to ultimately lose interest relatively fast. When the personal touches are brought to life it brings the book back to having that “novel feel” where we see the author’s struggle with trying to help the planet himself by doing small things, such as buying one plane ticket a year. The depictions of his trips captivate and draw your attention in so that you want to know more about what you are reading. I think that when you strip away all of the repetitive scientific stuff, and just listen to the story that he’s trying to tell you can see the bigger picture. It’s crazy to think that with all the information we have about climate change there is still so much hesitation in doing anything about it. Most people are really comfortable saying that it’s “not my problem” and “one non recycled can isn’t gonna change the world any more than a recycled one” but we have to become aware. Aware of our actions and even more aware of the consequences for those actions. Everyone know any book you read will undoubtedly have much more of an impact on you when you feel like you can sympathize and relate to that person on a human level. So when the author throws facts and humanity at you you have no choice but to react. To feel something. To become aware.

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.

 

Philippe Squarzoni’s Personal Journey through Climate Change

This was my first comic book that I read to completion. This story definitely made me feel like I was with him in his journey of writing the story. We were able to see his inspiration, research, uncertainty as well as certainty, and how it affects reality. The book reminds me of the class I took last semester called “The Environment”, it was about the environment and the 2 way relationship humans have with it.

The main focus Philippe Squarzoni was determined to push, is that the environmental problem is invertible crisis based on the path we are on. He strongly emphasized that the mentality “the choices I as an individual make, won’t make a difference” and this will lead to our destruction of the earth. However he doesn’t ignore that part of the cycle would happen regardless of human interference. Through his character, he shows us that sacrifices must be made to preserve (reduce the damages we create on) the earth.

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science by Philippe Squarzoni provides an interesting account of the modern political issue of climate change. Throughout the book there is a complimentary balance between factual information and dialogue. It is through these bits of cold facts and powerful pieces of dialogue that makes the reader question how we got to this horrifying place where our earth continues to suffer due to our wrongdoing. It makes the reader question why humans continue to self-destruct by making poor decisions that they know will be detrimental in the future. Consumerism is the driving force behind our decisions which is why we cannot seem to unify as a collective society and make any real changes, whether that be concerning our political, economic, environmental or social problems. Through the analyzing this book, the issue of climate change unfolds many injustices and faults that exist in our society.

This book is informative and also relatable because the reader is exposed to various perspectives on the issue of climate change. There are two separate dialogues occurring in the book. One dialogue is between members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the other dialogue is between a man, who is in the process of writing a book about climate change, and his wife. Squarzoni decides to contrast these two dialogues: one of an everyday couple and another of a group of people with more political power and knowledge, to show the different perspectives and attitudes people have concerning this issue.

When the man is talking about climate change to his wife the reader gets an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. He is concerned about how climate change is becoming progressively worse and feels as if he cannot have any impact through writing his book. For example the man says to his wife, “Another problem is that we can’t see the change happening. The climate crisis is still far off, too abstract to shift our priorities (page 250).” Squarzoni creates this tone of discouragement in order to draw attention to the mentality that most people in today’s society have regarding climate change. Most people recognize that it is a serious issue but many people are either uneducated about it or feel that any contribution they have will not make a significant difference in helping the problem. The man continues to explain to his wife that the reason why our society is in this position is because of consumerism. “Sure its true, we make our small gestures to save the planet. Turn off the water while we brush our teeth. Buy energy-efficient light bulbs. But are we ready to forego purchasing the next big-screen TV? A more powerful car? Are we ready to give up red meat? (page 257)” He is arguing that as a society we recognize the problem and will do the bare minimum to help, however we will not make any drastic changes to our daily lives. “Climate change is also a symptom of a breakdown of solidarity, a sign on collective selfishness (page 291)”. Again, he is drawing upon this core issue that we have grown to be selfish beings through consumerism. Furthermore, we are unwilling to sacrifice our personal lives, even if that means that our earth continues to diminish.

The dialogue between the members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also reveals another claim by Squarzoni about our society. These members discussed the issue of climate change from more of a political and economic standpoint. For example, they discuss how climate change is going to result in an increase of diseases, which is going to negatively impact the poor because they cannot afford health care. “Lets say this happens in 2050. The big question is: will the poorer countries of 2050 have health care systems comparable to those of the rich countries today? (page 255)” This excerpt shows the complexity of climate change and explains why there is no simple solution to the problem. Moreover, it shows that in our society the elite are always more protected under our political system than the poor. Again, this relates to theme of selfishness. Through out human history, there has always been a hierarchy of how we categorize humans, which is mainly determined by race and socio economic status.

In the article, The New Abolitionism by Christopher Hayes, he makes an interesting parallel between slavery and climate change. Although the two topics are vastly different, he compares them from an economic and political standpoint. “The connection between slavery and fossil fuels, however, is more than metaphorical. Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia (Hayes).” Slaves produced energy, just like fossil fuels, which is why slaves were viewed as resources instead of human beings. Similar to how people continued to take part in slavery even though they knew it was immoral, people now are continuing to burn fossil fuels even though it is harmful to the earth.

This correlation shows how throughout history, our society has always been motivated by consumerism and individual gain. In other words, by nature, humans are selfish. We will do what is best for our personal lives rather than what is best for the society as a whole. In addition, the only people that are ever in control over the issue, whether it be slavery or climate change, is always the elite. This is represented in the book Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Squarzoni chose to contrast this group from an everyday man to show this social divide that exists in our society. If the elite govern the ultimate decisions that are made in our society and they are only interested in personal gain, our society will continue to be at a standstill while issues, such as climate change, continue to worsen.

A Boring Graphic Novel? How?

If you’re looking for an entertaining story about the environmental disaster that is climate change in a fun and friendly graphic novel format, you will be severely disappointed in “Climate Changed” just as I was. Don’t be fooled by the colorful presentation of the novel, this work could have easily done without the illustrations and would have been eerily similar to an academic journal. I’ll be completely honest when I say that I couldn’t make it past the first 100 pages, and I was barely able to stay awake for that much. If you have no background in or base knowledge of environmental issues, this novel will be a struggle to read.

However, as graphic novel is as much its literary content as its illustrative content, it is necessary to note that the drawings are quite beautiful. The clear talent of the illustrator was the only element which kept my attention. In addition, the integration of black and white photographs with the drawings allows for a reminder that this novel is in fact non-fiction; Philippe Squarzoni is very much trying to educate and warn the reader about the very real issue of global warming. It is almost disappointing that his narrative is too boring to be effective. I wanted so badly to be educated and have my mind be opened to how destructive humans are and how the governments are too greedy to care about how its companies are effecting the atmosphere; perhaps I’m too daft to understand the finer details of the situation.

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.

 

A Tale of Two Climate Changes: Global + Personal

Climate change is one of those problems that is so enormous, most people cannot even begin to wrap their minds around. Due to the issue’s sheer magnitude and its complex nature, climate change is a very difficult topic for common people to approach and study. Due to this, many people opt to simply ignore the problems at hand. With this in mind, Phillipe Squarzoni penned his graphic “novel” Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science with the intent of making climate change an accessible and comprehensible subject. He does this by intertwining scientific dialogues with graphic images, personal anecdotes, and interesting analogies.

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.

Close to the Edge

Don’t let the thickness of this novel fool you, Climate Changed is a moderate read that engages the reader a great amount through the pages of an informative journey. The author and narrator, Philippe Squarzoni, makes himself relatable and for the most part I believe likable, too. This novel could be thoroughly enjoyed by someone who has a lot of knowledge on the topics of climate change and global warming or none at all. Before starting the book, he explains how he doesn’t have a plethora of information on climate change and global warming himself, so those who don’t know much on the topics gradually learn with him.

I think this graphic novel is supposed to be a warning, but can we even consider it a warning at this point due to how far into climate change dangers we already are? This was one of the things that scared me the most. This piece points a lot of necessary fingers at us because we genuinely deserve it. The structure of society is the biggest problem and contributor. After reading this book, you’re going to look at your own lifestyle and get mad at yourself. Then, you’re going to look at all your friends’ lifestyles and get mad at them too. Then this is where Squarzoni’s notion of the “split personality” comes in. We all want to change the world but we don’t want to change the luxurious way we live now. This novel conveys a strong and important message all while being genuinely entertaining.

Climate Changed: An Important Lesson Learned

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science is an extremely effective piece of work. The reader is along for the ride as Phillippe Squarzoni takes a personal journey to understand an extremely significant and inevitable natural phenomenon called climate change. He weaves details from his own life in with larger topics that are pieces of the complex web of the human effort to curb the effects of climate change. He is doing important work that is arguably as crucial as the scientific work done by professionals, which is effectively making climate change approachable and understandable to people who may find the scientific explanation confusing. The author does not come across as preachy in ways that scientists can be on occasion. He enters the topic with a purely curious and open mind state, which is something everyone should be able to appreciate. It is important to understand that climate change is not something we can ignore or forget about, and Squarzoni takes an extremely complicated idea that takes shape in numerous ways and shows us how it can and will effect us on a personal level. We do not know exactly in which ways as no one can predict the effects of the climate, but he shows us how climate change will become a part of everyday life. We are all a part of this issue, and when one begins to see real, tangible ways that it impacts our day-to-day lives, climate change becomes less of a thing to shrug off and more of a threat to our species’ existence. Even if you do not like his story or approach you still have to appreciate how effective he is at getting his point across

Finally an approachable account of a larger-than-life problem

So very many variables affect global climate change, the issue is practically incomprehensible to all but expert climatologists. We laymen have mostly heard the gist of it—that human activity, particularly greenhouse gas emissions resultant from our industrializing the world, is exacerbating the greenhouse effect and accelerating the death of our planet as we know it—but that’s all.  As for where to go or what to do with this knowledge, we’re clueless. The problem seems unapproachable.

In Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science, Philippe Squarzoni makes the intricacies of this big issue more clear than ever before. The format—a graphic novel in which each panel contains only a small, easily digestible kernel of information—is more successful at communicating the many details to the general public than any essay, article, or even documentary film could ever be. Squarzoni has an excellent sense of the limits of his readers’ attention spans: as soon as I start feeling overwhelmed by a cascade of statistics or cold, dry science, he injects his narrator (himself) into the presentation, allowing me some time to absorb the essential info, every time. It’s refreshing, this technique.

What’s more, when he cuts from the science-y stuff to the anecdotal personal stuff, the anecdotes are often rather artfully selected. “Sometimes… in the middle… we need to take a break. […] As if to escape the march of time. We find ourselves immersed in our memories,” he writes, captioning a picture of himself as a little boy with an arm around his once-upon-a-time little puppy. “Memories that break your heart when they remind you of something you’ve lost” (96). The emotional implication here is that global warming is a threat by which we stand to lose a lot… a lot!

“How do we fight back? Where do we start?” Squarzoni asks again and again throughout the book, in sympathy with his average reader. As he puts it, “The economic objectives of our society are grounded in a continual increase in the amount of manufactured goods” (187). So how can we face the machine? What can we do? Of course, he does not provide a straightforward answer to this question, but let’s not think of this as a shortcoming. His mission with this book is not to solve the problem—he’s just a mortal man—but rather to express the real scope and urgency of the situation, to tell us what to expect in the years to come.

Besides, he offers suggestions at least, especially in the form of everyday lifestyle choices that we can each make as conscientious individuals; and he relays the experts’ opinions on what policymakers should do for whole societies. In between the lines of his interviews with experts, by the way, he inserts his own comments to supplement whatever they’re saying. These interjections are as effective as those of the most skilled documentarians. Taken altogether, this is likely the most comprehensive (and yet understandable) report on the status of climate change ever written.

In only two area do I feel this account is lacking.  One: sometimes, in Squarzoni’s personal narrative in between the science-y stuff, it seems to me that he is trying to hard to make me react emotionally.  (Whether or not he took that plane ride to Laos, I don’t care, but he keeps talking about it.)  Two: in his interviews with the experts—who, to his credit, do represent a variety of disciplines both directly and tangentially related to the climate change problem—there is a conspicuous shortage of suggestions for governments and policymakers. In other words, this work does not make as immense an impact as it could have made, had Squarzoni focused his attack a little more sharply.

All in all, highly recommended.

The Air Up There

Philippe Squarzoni’s “Climate Changed” is an interesting first-person narrative, in that, the reader experiences the journey of a graphic novelist’s process to create and tell a story. This chronicle is a story within itself as the narrator discloses to readers his experiences in the recitation. With this in mind, interpretively, “Climate Changed” could be Squarzoni’s own personal methodology and struggle to write this book. The storyline’s setting is in France, which indicates that environmental awareness is most prevalent on a global scale. This fact is most relevant as the main protagonist gives a brief history of the “liberal policies during French President Jacques Chirac’s second term” (Squarzoni 27), and the negative impact these governmental policies had on France’s environment. During Chirac’s second electoral term in office, France experienced what can only be described as a horrific decline in the mandate to regulate environmental hazards like greenhouse gas emissions, industrial CO² emissions, and carbon emissions: “granting quotas 12% higher than greenhouse gas emission in previous years” (Squarzoni 30). The aforementioned relaxed quotas, embedded during President Chirac’s second term, was done as a means to give France an unfair economic advantage in the emissions free-marketplace; this concedes capitalism as the ultimate justification for disregarding protective environmental laws, and by extension, “greed” becomes the ultimate reason for future negative climate change.

Philippe focuses his narrative around the harmful causes of atmospheric disruption by introducing manmade industrial gases into earth’s atmosphere. There are three major reasons attributed to potential negative climate change: “one, the changes in earth’s orbit around the sun every 100,000-years. Two, the variations in the axes of our poles on a 60,000-year cycle. And three, the inversion every 13,000 years of which hemisphere is closer to the sun” (Squarzoni 40). The preceding three reasons are most logical, in that, science and research have proven these facts undisputable, which allows the author to imply that beyond human interferences, natural planetary occurrences will eventually cause a negative climate change, as it has done in centuries past. Similarly, like H.G. Wells in his short story “The Time Machine” with its planetary collapse theory, Squarzoni’s “Climate Changed” does not seek to solely blame humans’ interferences with nature as the only or primary reasons for future negative climate change. Philippe’s text complicatedly demonstrates that natural manifestations of multiple atmospheric elemental variances create climate change. Squarzoni presents an argument that deflects sole responsibility from being placed on human interference, but he does acknowledge that human evolution, and humans’ need to progress, with the invention of “industrial greenhouse gases: halocarbon, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCS), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCS), and perfluorocarbons (PFCS)” (Squarzoni 65), has exponentially increased the amount of greenhouse gases that negatively compromise the earth’s atmospheric layers. However, it is important to note that these industrial gases, if already present in the atmosphere, assist in blocking radiation from the sun (which is good for all living creatures), and adding minuscule amounts will not have a noticeable effect; conversely, when new industrial gases are introduced into the atmospheric layers, they interrupt the various wavelengths of solar radiation, creating traceable effects.

Contextually, the most compelling portion of the novel comes from Squarzoni’s challenge to skeptics in defending his climate change predictions. With this in mind, Squarzoni logically explains that by “examining polar ice core samples, which allows us to reconstruct the atmosphere of the distant past, confirms how sensitive the climate is to the slightest alteration” (Squarzoni 49). This is to say, using measurements and recorded climate/weather data from the past and quantifying the increases/decreases of meteorological variances, assist climate scientists in developing future models of predictable climate changes. Succinctly, by reconstructing the past climate scientists can deconstruct a predictable future. The essence of the story lays in Philippe Squarzoni’s hypothesis that future global warming and climate alterations will occur as humans distort the natural evolution of the earth by changing the composition of the atmosphere with manmade/unnatural industrial gases.

Philippe Squarzoni’s “Climate Changed” is a cli-fi novel that is not for the novice. If someone has never read a graphic novel or a cli-fi story, it is not recommend to start one’s introduction to this form of genre writing with this book: it is long and riddled with jargon specific climatological terminology.

Climate Changed: One Journey To Pay Attention To.

How to begin? Philippe Squarzoni, author of Climate Changed – a personal journey through the science, asks that question many times in his graphic novel. I didn’t know what to expect going into this book, other than thinking that it was a phenomenal idea to write a book about climate change in this medium. As a non-comic book reader, I was pleasantly surprised. There are so many facts in this books, it can sometimes be overwhelming; however I am abundantly more educated on the issues and history of climate change than ever before. One of the first things I learned was that 15,000 people died from a heat wave in France in 2003. What?! That was my most common emotion when reading this book (shock/surprise). I think whenever the narrator, goes into his own life, and questions what he can do; he represents a larger picture of America (if not the world). He is writing as a human being, and not simply as a character. One of the clear inner conflicts that the narrator is dealing with in the middle of the book is whether or not to attend the conference because plane travel is a huge contributor to the rising CO2 in the atmosphere. “The plane is going to take off anyway,” he says. This echoes a much bigger sentiment, as even if I change my behavior, it has to be a much bigger collective effort.

Of course nothing will change if money isn’t involved. In Climate Changed one of the characters suggests investing in mass transit options, instead of “another next-generation nuclear power plant.” There has to be other options. This strikes me as similar to the Chris Hayes article The New Abolitionism, and how the “movement to stop the Keystone XL pipeline is probably the largest social movement in American history directed at stopping a piece of capital investment.” He goes on to say that may institutions (colleges, foundations, institutions etc) have pledged to divest hundreds of millions away from fossil fuel. The other choices, have to have a viable business model as Hayes says, the fossil fuel companies are spending it currently on an “extremely expensive suicide mission.” So, even if these companies aren’t worrying about our changing environments, they are worried about their bottom line. If there are other and equally profitable ways to make this money, companies will want to hear about those options.

Throughout this book, the narrator was constantly pondering questions. “Which way to go?” he asks. “We are caught in so many contradictions.” I believe the science is out there, and we can keep living with Santa in a fantasy land or we can take into account what is happening in the world and start making small differences that in turn, will end up making a huge impact. All in all, Climate Changed, was an engrossing and thought provoking book. I highly recommend it, especially those new to idea of climate change, it will open your mind to how the world was; and how you choose to embrace it in the future.

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#

Climate Changed: A Man, His Dog, and Everyone is Evil

Before reading Climate Changed, I was naturally expecting to be bored out of my wits. I mean, a 400+ page graphic novel that goes into great detail to say why the world is going to end sooner than we think? I thought it was going to be one of those preachy pieces of work that induces groans more than makes me think, and I was partially right. Between all of the groaning, I did feel like I was getting some useful and eye opening information from all the right sources.

From beginning to end, Squarzoni offers a lot of information from facts about the atmosphere to what the governments of the world aren’t doing about climate change. It was also pretty depressing to hear certain dates being thrown around, which pretty much means the powers that be know when considerable and negative changes will be happening, but are doing nothing to stop it. Instead, they throw around empty promises about how they are taking steps and “going green” when all of this is just a show so that they can keep lining their pockets.

To me, that was the most interesting part and also the most concerning. To people who don’t know what’s really going on and they hear a company is going green, they probably think its great and that as consumers, they are part of the effort to save the environment. The fact of the matter is that the environment can not be healthy in a consumerist society, so people need to choose between what they want and what they need. I know I certainly don’t want that responsibility.

The only issue I have with this graphic novel is that it gets too repetitive. It easily could have been 100 pages shorter by cutting out people saying more of the same thing. Still, it was a surprisingly interesting read that points a lot of fingers, but for a very good reason.

Save the Planet!!

Reading Climate Changed was more like reading a very well thought out wake-up call than a 400+ page graphic novel. All the information, and there is a LOT of information, is presented in an entertaining and simple way, making it easy to read for teenagers and adults alike. On top of the information, the author, Philippe Squarzoni, includes personal details from his life that are relevant to how he created the idea for the book and the book itself. He also includes his wife, Camille, and her part in helping him further develop this graphic novel. An important thing to mention about this book is that he uses a lot of expert testimony which makes him seem very credible therefore making his writing incredibly effective. If the entire book were based off of Squarzoni’s opinions and what he knows about climate change (which at the beginning of the graphic novel, he repeatedly states that he really doesn’t know anything about it), we as the readers would probably less engaged in the book and more prone to question whether or not what he was saying was true. This is one of the big reasons why I enjoyed this graphic novel so much. Not only does the use of expert testimony qualify Squarzoni’s points, it switches it up for a couple pages so that we aren’t just reading one person go on and on about climate change for 467 pages. Another reason I liked the book was because it kind of scared me a little. It made me think about what would happen if we were to exceed the amount of emissions that the planet could handle, something I’d never even considered thinking about before. Overall, I really enjoyed this graphic novel. However, I did find it ironic that with all the talk of changing our lifestyle to save the planet from the various experts and Squarzoni himself, he still published this almost 500 page graphic novel for however many copies it sold, probably killing an enormous amount of trees in the process. At least he acknowledges in the book several times that we’re all hypocrites when it comes to small stuff like that. For example, using too much paper or taking a plane ride. Hopefully in the near future, we figure out a way to reduce these harmful emissions without having to completely alter our daily lives.