________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 9. . . .October 29, 2010


What Are Global Warming and Climate Change? Answers for Young Readers. (Worlds of Wonder).

Chuck McCutcheon.
Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press (Distributed in Canada by Codasat Canada), 2010.
103 pp., hardcover, $30.95.
ISBN 978-0-8263-4745-9.

Subject Headings:
Global warming-Juvenile literature.

Greenhouse effect, Atmospheric-Juvenile literature.
Climatic changes-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-10 / Ages 9-15.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

**** /4



The experts say we should produce less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by burning less coal, gas, and oil – and that we should do it in a very short time. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the world would have to become mostly free of carbon-emitting technologies in about four decades to avoid widespread extinctions of animal species, decreased food production, flooding for millions of people, and higher death rates from heat waves. To do that, people all over the world need to change their lifestyles, and governments need to take the problem seriously.

During this past summer months, newspapers were filled with articles about forest fires in British Columbia and Russia, flooding across the Canadian prairie provinces and Pakistan, the unprecedented rate as which arctic sea ice is melting and the associated risks to arctic animals including the polar bear, the calving of Greenland’s ocean-bordering glaciers, brutal heat waves and periods of unusually warm weather in locations around the planet. All of these events are indicators of global climate disruption, and, as author Chuck McCutcheon makes clear, “global warming is real” - the impact isn’t coming in several decades, it is here. What are Global Warming and Climate Change?, however, is not written to frighten the adolescent and teenage readers – it hopes to inform. McCutcheon wants his audience to understand the difference between global warming and climate change, the human activities and natural changes that continue to contribute to global warming, how living organisms will be affected by warmer climates, and what needs to be done by politicians, law makers, adults and youth to counteract the warming of Earth’s climate system.

     What are Global Warming and Climate Change? is the most recent offering in the Barbara Guth “Worlds of Wonder Science Series for Young Readers.” It is divided into seven chapters, and these chapters follow a 10-page introduction that is focussed on explaining what the book is about. McCutcheon uses a question-and-answer format throughout the book and poses questions that are necessary and likely for an inquiring learner to ask. Using Chapter 2 “What’s the Greenhouse Effect? as one example, McCutcheon begins by offering answers to the following questions: “Is the greenhouse effect the same as global warming? Why is it called the greenhouse effect? How does the greenhouse effect work? He then responds to questions about greenhouse gases, water vapour, smog, and ozone. The chapter ends with answers to three questions that require him to look at the history of scientific work beginning with Fourier’s recognition of a greenhouse effect in 1827, the presence of a greenhouse effect on Venus and Mars, and why a greenhouse effect is a problem on Earth. Subsequent chapters focus on human contributions to global warming, the consequences of not changing human behaviours, a discussion of what politicians and people are doing about climate change, and a list of measures that youth and their families can do to “fight climate change.”

     In addition to questions with answers, five of the seven chapters also include an activity. In Chapter 2, readers are invited to use a covered clear container, two thermometers (one as a control), a watch and sunlight to measure the increasing air temperature in the container and to compare this with the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere. At the end of Chapter 3, McCutcheon provides readers with the URL of a website that allows them to calculate personal greenhouse gas emissions and compare a personal calculation to the American average. The Chapter 4 activity invites readers to consider the geography and economy of the area in which they live and to make a list of those things that will be impacted by the effects of climate change. In Chapter 5, it is suggested that the film An Inconvenient Truth be watched and critiqued using the prepared set of guiding questions. Chapter 7 ends with lists of books and websites that will enable readers to develop a deeper understanding of global warming and climate change.

      Without question, it is the content and the straightforward manner in which the content is presented and illustrated, not the activities, that make McCutcheon’s book valuable to adolescents and teens interested in understanding why global warming and climate change are of such grave concern. I highly recommend What are Global Warming and Climate Change? to school librarians, to teachers of geography, social studies, environmental science and sustainable development/living, and to parents who are interested in helping their children reduce their carbon footprint and live more sustainably on the planet.

Highly Recommended.

Barbara McMillan is a teacher educator and a professor of science education in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.