________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 7 . . . . November 23, 2007


Weird Weather: Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About Climate Change But Probably Should Find Out.

Kate Evans.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2007.
96 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $15.95 (hc).
ISBN 978-0-88899-841-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-88899-838-5 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Climatic changes-Juvenile literature.
Global warming-Juvenile literature.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Val Ken Lem.

*** /4


Trees don’t “soak up” carbon dioxide. They only store carbon until they die, when they rot, or burn, and it returns to the atmosphere. So if we want trees to help lower our carbon emissions… we have to stop cutting them down. Also, plants need more than just CO2 to grow. They need moisture and nutrients from the soil which are in limited supply. So in the long run more CO2 doesn’t make trees grow faster.


First published in the UK in 2006 as Funny Weather, Weird Weather is cartoonist and environmentalist Kate Evans’ alarming graphic treatment of climate change. The first and longest chapter explains the greenhouse effect and the climate chaos that it causes. A related phenomenon called “feedbacks” is addressed in the second chapter. For example, rising temperatures and melting ice are causing previously frozen peat bogs and muskeg to thaw and release methane, a greenhouse gas that is twenty times more potent than CO2. Together, these two chapters comprise about sixty percent of the book. The final two chapters briefly look at what we are doing to the earth (the explosive rise of industrial oil-based economies of the developed world since the mid-nineteenth century and the failure of the Kyoto Protocol) and finally, what we can do about it. It is not surprising that the final chapter, proposing some solutions to cutting reliance and use of carbon-based fuels, appears inadequate. Since there are no quick fixes to the problem of climate chaos, Evans emphasizes the responsibility of individuals to act. Her list of personal choices such as eating less meat, buying locally produced foodstuffs, conserving energy by way of energy-efficient appliances and lighting, lowering thermostats, reducing use of air conditioning, cycling and using mass public transit, cutting out air travel, reforming our societies to stop burning fossil fuels, and the proposed introduction of a universal contract to live within safe greenhouse gas limits constitute a blend of practical tips and a whole lot of utopian vision. Evans challenges the reader to take the first steps towards taking control of our planet’s fate.

     Weird Weather includes extensive endnotes at the end of each chapter that identify sources of information and elaborate on topics such as emissions trading markets. Sources range from newspaper and magazine articles to books and even wikipedia.org. Many of the sources might be labelled “left of centre,” but others are from mainstream trade publications. Additional features include an index, a page of recommended readings, four websites to help the reader take action (including two Canadian sites: pollutionprobe.org and davidsuzuki.org), plus six websites to help people keep informed on climate changes. Finally, there is information on a website that will help readers calculate their carbon footprints.

     The graphic book approach will appeal to a diverse readership. Much of the text features three recurring characters: an androgynous youth representing Kate Evans and other young environmentalists, an overweight, suit-clad, middle-aged Caucasian man representing the developed world’s status quo/capitalism/big oil/you and me, and a balding scientist who likes calculations and technology. Although somewhat stereotypical or caricature-like, these images work.

     Weird Weather is disturbing. It may even be disturbing enough to move a reader from complacency.


Val Ken Lem is a member of the Collection Services Team at Ryerson University and liaison librarian for history, English and Caribbean  studies. He uses public transit on a daily basis.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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