Top critical review
A Tale of Two Climate Changes
Reviewed in the United States on February 3, 2015
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.