CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 22 . . . . June 22, 2007
Thought-provoking, alarming, yet hopeful- these words sum up the message in former US Vice President Al Gore’s latest book. Adapted from his bestseller, An Inconvenient Truth, the information has been distilled for a younger audience. The book consists of 15 chapters covering a wide range of topics, from global warming’s effects on animal and plant species worldwide to area-specific problems such as melting ice shelves. Gore presents the information is a serious, matter-of-fact writing style, with plenty of examples to bring his points home. The text is printed in a large, simple font which makes the reading less daunting than that of the original title written for adults. Many of the facts will surprise - and shock- readers, some of whom will not have associated global warming with the examples given. For instance, Gore describes the spread of West Nile virus which, in only four years, moved across the entire continental U.S. As the climate warms, he explains, disease-carrying insects move to new places. Other problems related to global warming include flooding, algae blooms, disappearance of coral reefs and the growing list of endangered species. He cites the example of the pied fly-catcher, a migratory bird commonly found in the Netherlands. Due to climate change, the caterpillars on which the chicks feed now hatch two weeks earlier, leaving a smaller window of opportunity for the parents to find food for their chicks. Another example of nature off-balance is the quadrupling of the earth’s population in less than 100 years, putting an enormous strain on its natural resources. Deforestation, strip mining, diversion of water from its natural source and the use of the atomic bomb demonstrate how technology can have a disastrous impact on the globe. Gore also takes a hard line against the major corporations which mislead and confuse the public about the global warming crisis. Conversely, he shows readers the steps that some companies have taken to improve their products for the sake of reducing the negative impact. In the United States, sales of Toyota and Honda vehicles are now surpassing American-made cars due to their fuel-efficiency. The book ends with some suggestions for more earth-friendly actions- the use of hybrid cars, fluorescent light bulbs, solar and wind power and “green” roofs, to name a few.
Though the text is riveting, the dramatic colour photographs are phenomenal, especially those which compare the “before” and “after” effects of global warming. Maps and graphs provide further evidence of the information presented in the text. A table of contents and an index are included, along with Gore’s web site for further study.
Hopefully, this book will inspire young people to take action on this global crisis before it’s too late.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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