The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change
7 x 10
Climate change is no laughing matter-but maybe it should be. The topic is so critical that everyone, from students to policy-makers to voters, needs a quick and easy guide to the basics. The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change entertains as it educates, delivering a unique and enjoyable presentation of mind-blowing facts and critical concepts.
"Stand-up economist" Yoram Bauman and award-winning illustrator Grady Klein have created the funniest overview of climate science, predictions, and policy that you’ll ever read. You’ll giggle, but you’ll also learn-about everything from Milankovitch cycles to carbon taxes.
If those subjects sound daunting, consider that Bauman and Klein have already written two enormously successful cartoon guides to economics, making this notoriously dismal science accessible to countless readers. Bauman has a PhD in economics and has taught at both the high school and college level, but he now makes a living performing at comedy clubs, universities, and conferences, sharing the stage with personalities as diverse as Robin Williams and Paul Krugman.
The authors know how to get a laugh-and they know their facts. This cartoon introduction is based on the latest report from the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and integrates Bauman’s expertise on economics and policy.
If economics can be funny, then climate science can be a riot. Sociologists have argued that we don’t address global warming because it’s too big and frightening to get our heads around. The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change takes the intimidation and gloom out of one of the most complex and hotly debated challenges of our time.
References available at http://standupeconomist.com/cartoon-climate/
"Yoram Bauman and Grady Klein find a way to make climate change humorous and comprehensible in this visuals-driven book."
Los Angeles Times
"Illustrated with deceptively simple black-and-white art that masterfully supports the text, this book provides a skillful tour of the issues that face our developing world and it serves as a model of how educational works of this sort should be crafted."
"An often amusing graphic primer about an issue the authors recognize as apocalyptically serious."
"It's like An Inconvenient Truth meets Peanuts! (Not really, but that's somehow a very pleasant idea.)"
"Not only is [The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change] entertaining, it's packed full of facts, presented as cartoons and peppered with a few transparently-unrealistic zingers. You can read it in an afternoon, and so could your kid, or your grandparent. And thanks to the illustrations and simple analogies, I'd bet they will retain more of the information."
Greenpeace's The EnvironmentaList Blog
"[The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change is] not only a fun read to educate yourself or your crazy uncle about climate science basics, it's also full of practical information presented in simple but elegant illustrations and comic strips."
"The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change is a 'must-read' for its accessible, balanced, and non-judgmental approach to an extremely thorny issue."
Midwest Book Review
"So if you've sort of had it with graphs and numbers about climate change, you'll enjoy this irreverent new take on the future of our planet."
"[The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change] is a story, rather than just a textbook...suitable for teachers to use as a well-written and comprehensive introduction to an understanding of the climate system and climate change...a good read for anyone interested in the basics of climate change science but not wanting to tackle a more traditional textbook."
Reports of the National Center for Science Education
"I know we're trashing the planet, but do we have to add to our misery by reading gloom and doom books about it? The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change offers another way: learn some serious science, evaluate strategies for change, and have a good laugh in the process."
Annie Leonard, creator of "The Story of Stuff"
"A clear, concise rendition of the story of human-induced climate change, candid and yet brimming with warm-hearted humor and well-founded optimism. Gently persuasive, beautifully illustrated... an innovative springboard for discussion of what we can do as individuals and as a society to turn down the heat in our planetary 'compost pile.'"
John Michael Wallace, Professor Emeritus, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington
"Climate is no laughing matter — but it beats crying. Maybe this is the secret passage into people's hearts and minds."
James E. Hansen, former Director, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, author of "Storms of My Grandchildren"
"Fresh! Cheeky! Accurate and inspiring! An accessible, friendly, and fun explanation of climate change – free of politics, free of jargon, and fresh with insights. Cartoons you can believe in!"
Jane Lubchenco, Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology, Oregon State University
"Grady Klein and Yoram Bauman are a national treasure. The economics of climate policy has never been more accessible."
Kevin Hassett, Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
"The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change will tickle your fancy while expanding your mind. Highly recommended."
Martin Weitzman, Professor of Economics, Harvard University
"Rarely do you read books that attempt to deal with the world's biggest problems and present the information in a way that the average public can absorb it. Bravo to Yoram Bauman and Grady Klein, and thank you on behalf of everyone who is deeply concerned about this issue."
Mark Reynolds, Executive Director, Citizens Climate Lobby
"[This book] skillfully mixes the key facts of climate change with the playful and insightful juxtapositions that the comic form allows. Science communicators take notice. And if you’re looking for a gift for that family member who’s still a climate skeptic, this may be it."
"The... jokiness is subsumed by this publication's obvious educational credentials, manifested in its diligent thoroughness (200 pages) and excellent glossary of terms."
PART I. Observations
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. A Brief History of Planet Earth
Chapter 3. The Ice Ages
Chapter 4. Carbon Dioxide
Chapter 5. Energy
Chapter 6. Climate Science
PART II. Predictions
Chapter 7. Global Warming
Chapter 8. H20
Chapter 9. Life on Earth
Chapter 10. Beyond 2100
Chapter 11. Uncertainty
PART III. Actions
Chapter 12. The Tragedy of the Commons
Chapter 13. Techno-Fix
Chapter 14. Putting a Price on Carbon
Chapter 15. Beyond Fossil Fuels
Chapter 16. The Challenge
The Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series developed as a joint effort of a number of departments, out of discussions initiated in 1995 by faculty members and graduate students with common interests in the many facets of environmental issues. The Lecture Series is designed to bring a variety of distinguished speakers to the University of Connecticut to speak on various aspects of nature and the environment. Yoram Bauman, author of Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change and climate tax activist, will give a talk entitled "Comedy, Economics, and Climate Change" on March 3, 2016.
More details here.
This is a working document, so additions or edits are welcome! Also note that occasional Wikipedia references are for topics that can be found in many introductory textbooks.These references are also available at http://standupeconomist.com/cartoon-climate/
Chapter 1: Introduction (pages 3-14)
Page 4, “Story #1 is about economic growth”: An interesting read here is Bill Gates’s take-down of the myth that “poor countries are doomed to stay poor”.
Page 4, the invisible hand: The “invisible hand” idea is that individual self-interest can (“as if led by an invisible hand”) lead to economic growth and otherwise promote the common good. The metaphor comes from The Wealth of Nations (1776) by Adam Smith, who was a Scottish philosopher and “the father of modern economics”. For more on this see our Cartoon Econ books, especially Volume One: Microeconomics.
Page 5, world population: See the amazing chart in “U.N. Forecasts 10.1 Billion People by Century’s End” (NY Times, May 3 2011). Note that the UN has released a new World Population Prospects. The “medium variant” shows population rising from 7 billion in 2010 to 8 billion in 2025, 9 billion in 2040, 10 billion in 2065, and 10.9 billion and still rising (albeit very slowly) in 2100.
Page 5, “a world of 2-6 billion”: This refers to an article by demographer Wolfgang Lutz, “Towards a world of 2–6 billion well-educated and therefore healthy and wealthy people” (Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, 2009).
Page 9, “alien planet”: This is an allusion to Harvard economist Marty Weitzman: “Societies and ecosystems whose average temperature has changed in the course of a century or so by ?T > 6°C (for U.S. readers: ?6°C ˜ ?11°F) are located in the terra incognita of what any honest economic modeler would have to admit is a planet Earth reconfigured as science fiction, since such high temperatures have not existed for some tens of millions of years.” From Martin L Weitzman, “A Review of The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change“, Journal of Economic Literature 45:703-724 (2007).
Page 9, “wicked problem”: Believe it or not, “wicked problem” is a technical term. So is “super wicked problem”!
Page 12, “Seattle in July”: Thanks to Washington State’s Assistant State Climatologist Karin Bumbaco for helping out here; the temperature range given is based on the mean Seattle Sandpoint July temperature +/- one standard deviation over the period of record. On flowers blooming earlier, see Observed Changes in Phenology Across the United States – Pacific Northwest: “Across the Northwestern and interior Western U.S. time of first bloom for lilac (Syringa vulgaris) and honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica and L. korolkowii) showed a trend toward earlier flowering (average advances of 7.5 days for lilac and 10 for honeysuckle) over an almost 40-year period.”
Page 12, “climate is like your personality, weather is like your mood”: There are other, similar comparisons, e.g., “climate is what you expect, weather is what you get” and “Climate tells you what clothes to buy, weather tells you what clothes to wear.” I’m not sure where the personality/mood comparison comes from, but I first came across it in a 2013 TEDx Atlanta talk by Marshall Shepherd, president of the American Meteorological Society, on “Slaying the ‘Zombies’ of Climate Science”.
Chapter 2: A brief history of Planet Earth (pages 15-26)
A good general reference for this chapter is David Catling’s Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction (2014). Professor Catling also recommends these two books: Ruddiman’s Earth’s Climate: Past and Future (2nd ed., 2008) and (a bit more technical than Ruddiman’s) Kump, Kasting, and Crane’s The Earth System (3rd ed., 2009).
Page 15, “first the Earth cooled”: The line comes from the 1982 disaster spoof movie Airplane II: The Sequel:
Steve McCroskey: Jacobs, I want to know absolutely everything that’s happened up till now.
Jacobs: Well, let’s see. First the Earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil. And then the Arabs came and they bought Mercedes Benzes…
The sequel received mediocre reviews, but the original movie from 1980, called Airplane!, is regarded as surely one of the funniest movies of all time. (And don’t call me Shirley!)
Page 17, photosynthesis: More here. Note that not all photosynthesis is done by green things; for example there’s brown algae, such as kelp, red algae, etc.
Page 18, carbon cycle: See AR5 WG1 Figure 6.1 (IPCC 2014). Older figures include this NASA graph, this more complicated figure from AR4 WG1 Figure 7.3 (IPCC 2007), and this from NOAA.
Page 18, “mostly water and carbon”: By mass, the human body is about
With the end of COP 21 and the signing of the historic Paris Agreement, it’s not just countries that are thinking about how to reduce emissions—individuals are reflecting on how their habits and actions impact climate change as well.
Island Press authors shared what they’re doing to reduce their carbon footprints and, in some cases, what more they could be doing. Check out their answers and share your own carbon cutbacks—or vices—in the comments.
Jason Mark, author of Satellites in the High Country:
Very much like the Paris Climate Accord itself, ecological sustainability is a process, not a destination. Which, I'll admit, is a squirrely way of saying that I'm doing my best to reduce my carbon footprint. I ride my bike. I take mass transit. Most days my car never leaves the spot in front of our home. Most importantly, I have sworn off beef because of cattle production's disproportionate climate impact. The (grass-fed, humane) burger still has a siren song, but I ignore it.
Grady Gammage, author of The Future of the Suburban City:
I drive a hybrid, ride light rail to the airport and don’t bother to turn on the heat in my house (which is possible in Phoenix). My greatest carbon sin is my wood burning fireplace. I don’t use it when there’s a “no burn” day, but otherwise, I have a kind of primordial attraction to building a fire.
John Cleveland, co-author of Connecting to Change the World:
We just installed a 12 KW solar array on our home in New Hampshire. At the same time, we electrified our heating system with Mitsubishi heat pumps. So our home is now net positive from both an electricity and heating point of view. We made the solar array large enough to also power an electric car, but are waiting for the new models that will have more range before we install the electric car charger. The array and heat pumps have great economics. The payback period is 8-years and after that we get free heat and electricity for the remainder of the system life — probably another 20+ years. Great idea for retirement budgets!
Dan Fagin, author of Toms River:
Besides voting for climate-conscious candidates, the most important thing we can do as individuals is fly less, so I try to take the train where possible. I wish it were a better option.
Darrin Nordahl, author of Public Produce:
The United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China, and how we produce food in this country is responsible for much of those emissions. From agriculture, to the fossil fuels needed to produce bags and boxes for pre-packaged food, to the burning of gas and oil to transport both fresh produce and pre-packaged food, I have discovered I can reduce my carbon footprint with a simple change in my diet. For one, I avoid processed food of any sort. I also grow a good portion of my vegetables and herbs and, thankfully, local parks with publicly accessible fruit trees provide a modicum of fresh fruit for my family. We also eat less meat than we used to and our bodies (and our planet) are healthier because of it.
Yoram Bauman, author of The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change:
I try to put on warm slippers or other extra layers around the house in order to not have to heat the house so much, but I still like to take long hot showers. (Maybe those two things are connected).
Rob McDonald, author of Conservation for Cities:
I try to pay attention to my daily habits that make up a lot of my carbon footprint. So I bike to work, or take mass transit. That gets rid of the carbon footprint of driving. I also try to only moderately heat or cool my home, so I’m not burning a lot of energy doing that. The biggest component of my carbon footprint that I haven’t managed to cut is for travel. I have to travel once or twice a month for my job, and unless it is a trip in the Northeast (when I can just use Amtrak!), I am stuck travelling. The carbon footprint of all that air travel is huge. I try to do virtual meetings, rather than travel whenever I can, but there still seems to be a big premium people place on meeting folks face to face.
Emily Monosson, author of Unnatural Selection:
We keep our heat really low in the winter (ask our teenage daughter, it's way too cold for her here!) and I hang my clothes on the line in the summer. Because it’s so cold, I love taking really hot long showers. I should also hang my clothes in the winter too, and ditch the dryer.
Jonathan Barnett and Larry Beasley, co-authors of Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs:
We both live in a town-house in the central part of a city – on opposite sides of the continent: one in Philadelphia the other in Vancouver. Our neighborhoods have 100% walk scores. We each own one car, but don’t need to drive it very much - most of the time we can go where they need to on foot. We wrote our book using email and Dropbox. What they still need to work on is using less air travel in the future.
Jan Gehl, author of Cities for People:
I live in Denmark where 33% of the energy is delivered by windmills. A gradual increase will happen in the coming years. As in most other countries in the developed world, too much meat is on the daily diet. That is absolutely not favorable for the carbon footprint. It sounds like more salad is called for in the future!
Suzanne Shaw, co-author of Cooler Smarter:
Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low Carbon Living provides a roadmap for consumers to cut their carbon footprint 20 percent (or more). My approach to lowering my carbon footprint has gone hand in hand with saving money through sensible upgrades. Soon after I purchase my 125-year-old house I added insulation, weather stripping and a programmable thermostat. When I needed a new furnace, I swapped a dirty oil furnace to a cleaner, high-efficiency natural gas model. And now have LED bulbs in every fixture in the house, Energy Star appliances throughout, and power strips at my entertainment and computer areas. This summer, I finally installed solar panels through a 25-year lease (zero out-of-pocket expense). In the month of September, I had zero emissions from electricity use. Living in the city, I am fortunate to have access to public transportation and biking, which keeps our household driving to a minimum.
Peter Fox-Penner, author of Smart Power Anniversary Edition:
I’m reducing my footprint by trying to eat vegan, taking Metro rather than taxis or Ubers, and avoiding excess packaging. Right now I travel too much, especially by air. P.S. Later this year I’ll publish my carbon footprint on the website of the new Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy. Watch for it!
Carlton Reid, author of Roads Were Not Built for Cars:
Our family has a (small) car but I cycle pretty much all of the time. My kids cycle to school (some days) and my wife cycles to work (sometimes). It’s useful to have the car for some journeys, long ones mostly, but having a family fleet of bikes means we don’t need a second car. Reducing one’s carbon footprint can be doing less of something not necessarily giving up something completely. If everybody reduced their car mileage (and increased their active travel mileage) that would be good for the planet and personally: win/win.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
We asked our authors: In today's age of slacktivism, has Earth Day become meaningless as a way to make impactful environmental change? Check out what they had to say below.
Travis Beck, author of Principles of Ecological Landscape Design
April 22nd, Earth Day, is also National Jelly Bean Day. How should one celebrate National Jelly Bean Day? The internet suggests guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar, making jelly bean jewelry, or, simply, eating lots of jelly beans. The internet also suggests a number of ways to celebrate Earth Day in my immediate area. They include an Earth Day Celebration, an Earth concert, an Earth Day cleanup, a film screening, a moonlight hike, a 5k run/walk, an Earth Day festival, and an Earth Day fair. Or, if you’ve been invited to United Nations headquarters on that day, you could sign a global climate agreement.
All of this—the jelly beans, the festivals, and the signing ceremony—falls under the heading of marketing. The Earth needs good marketing. It’s too easy to ignore the pervasive, perplexing, and long term environmental issues we face in the rush of everyday life. Those recent video spots from Conservation International with Julia Roberts as the voice of Mother Nature, etc. are impactful, but a bit grim. Why not go on a moonlight hike instead, take in a film, wander a fair, or think about your nation’s CO2 emissions? And while you’re at it, enjoy a few jelly beans. Green ones.
John Pastor, author of What Should a Clever Moose Eat?
We have holidays to celebrate the planting of trees, the harvest, the four key points that define the Earth’s orbit (the solstices and the equinoxes), so why not a holiday to celebrate the whole Earth? And so we do, Earth Day, April 22. When Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in 1970, he hoped to promote environmental activism and demonstrations, especially on campuses. Today, some campuses still have demonstrations against environmental degradation, but these are not as large as they once were. But I am encouraged by the growth of many environmental and nature organizations since the first Earth Day, such as the Xerces Society for the conservation of rare insects, WildOnes for the establishment of native plant gardens, and many others. Demonstrations on Earth Day may not be as common, but people seem to be putting their energy into actively doing something for and learning about nature and the environment. Nonetheless, the idea of Earth Day as a day to celebrate the wonder of life on our planet home is still worthwhile. So celebrate Earth Day: if it makes you feel good, find and join a local environmental or nature organization in your area.
Yoram Bauman, author of Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change
Earth Day is a way of connecting like-minded people who care about sustainability, and hopefully (as with the Yes on 732 carbon tax campaign I’m part of in Washington State) those connections lead to more and deeper types of involvement!
Rob McDonald, author of Conservation for Cities
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”- a hackneyed quotation, but a true one. Yes, the kinds of minimal individual actions sometimes promoted for Earth Day don’t add up to much themselves. Given the magnitude of the challenge of climate change, for instance, biking to work one day a week is a pretty minor step toward reducing my carbon footprint. Similarly, avoiding food waste in my home is only a teeny step toward reducing global agricultural production. These kind of good first steps have some value on their own, but their real value is getting people to be educated and committed to an issue. For a small subset of people, these kind of first steps lead to bigger, more significant steps. Or they may lead to political support for broader legal or policy changes that do have a meaningful environmental impact. So, instead of criticizing the “slacktivists”, tell them what other steps they should take next, if they want to prove greater dedication to the environmental cause.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
Around the world, renewable energy is making headlines: last May, clean energy supplied almost all of Germany’s power demand for one day, while Portugal ran entirely on renewable energy for 107 hours straight. We asked some of our authors how these accomplishments will affect the way other countries think about renewable energy, and what this means for the US. Check out what they had to say below.
Renewables are already being taken seriously by the marketplace, but ultimately it’s a matter of economics: fossil fuels don’t pay their true cost—including the costs associated with emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants—and so it’s not a level playing field. A carbon tax (like the Yeson732.org carbon tax effort I’m part of that will be on the ballot in Washington State in November) would help internalize those external costs and give a boost to renewables and conservation. It’s still going to be a long time before the USA operates entirely on renewables for a day or more—it’s a big country and we’ve got a lot of coal and natural-gas power plants—but the sooner we start moving in that direction the better!
-Yoram Bauman, author The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change
It is great to see these milestones achieved, but I think even more important climate policy and achievements are now starting to be seen on the horizon. There is a new wave of policymaking focused on 80 percent or even complete decarbonization of energy by 2050, travelling far beyond the 2030 date in most official goals and plans, including the U.S. Clean Power Plan. While the 2050 works are in their early stages, and most are closer to visioning exercises than actionable plans, this is the next phase of planning and operations for no-carbon energy. Thirty-five years is a very long time to plan forward, but it is within the life span of many large energy technologies and nearly all of the buildings that are in existence today. Every year we move towards 2050 we lock in more of the system that will be in place, or already retired, by that year, so it’s really the right time to start working on this. Almost makes you want to start singing that old Fleetwood Mac song, the theme of Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign. Google it, you twenty-somethings.
-Peter Fox-Penner, author Smart Power Anniversary Edition
Many press reports said Portugal and Germany were getting all their energy from renewables during these short periods of abundant wind and sunlight. But it’s important to remember that we’re really talking only about electricity, which currently represents about 20 percent of global final energy usage. The other 80 percent of energy usage occurs mostly in transportation, agriculture, industrial processes, and in heating buildings, and currently requires liquid, gaseous, and solid hydrocarbon fuels. We have a big challenge ahead of us in electrifying those areas of energy usage. Continue reading Richard's full post here.
-Richard Heinberg, co-author Our Renewable Future
Yoram Bauman, co-author of The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change and “the world’s first and only stand-up economist,” performs regularly at colleges and corporate events, sharing the stage with everyone from Robin Williams to Paul Krugman. He has appeared in Time Magazine and on PBS and NPR, and his previous collaboration with Grady Klein resulted in the two-volume Cartoon Introduction to Economics.
Richard Heinberg is Senior Fellow-in-Residence of Post Carbon Institute and is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost educators on the need to transition away from fossil fuels. He is the author of twelve books, including seminal works on society’s sustainability crisis, The Party’s Over: Oil, War & the Fate of Industrial Societies and The End of Growth: Adapting the Our New Economic Reality.
In honor of the first presidential debate tonight beteween Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, we asked Island Press authors: "If you were advisor to the president, what would your top priority be and why?" Check out their answers, in their own words, below.
I'd urge the President to act on every possible opportunity to reduce the influence of money in the political process, because until that happens it will be increasingly difficult to make progress on anything else.
-Dan Fagin, Toms River
Maintaining and extending the collaborative relationship with the Republic of Mexico over the shared waters of the Colorado River should be a sustained priority. The 2012 agreement known as "Minute 319", signed in 2012, included important water sharing provisions and for the first time allowed water to be returned to the desiccated Colorado River for the environment and the communities of Mexico. The deal was an important milestone, but it was only a temporary agreement. We need permanent solutions to the overuse of the Colorado River, and sustaining our partnership with Mexico is a critical piece.
-John Fleck, Water is for Fighting Over
1) Ending farm subsidies and other protection/promotion of food crops.
2) Embracing GMO neutrality.
3) Ending federal support for state unpasteurized (raw) milk bans.
4) Reining in the FDA.
5) Ending the federal ban on sales of locally slaughtered meat.
6) Ending federal policies that promote food waste.
7) Improving food safety and choice by requiring good outcomes, rather than mandating specific processes.
8) Ending the federal ban on distilling spirits at home.
9) Deregulating the cultivation of hemp.
-Baylen Linnekin, Biting the Hands that Feed Us
For more elaboration on these bullets, see Linnekin’s full article on Reason.
My advice to a presidential candidate would be to recall the words of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, “The good thing about science is that its true whether or not you believe in it.” Natural forces are at work that will have adverse consequences, many of which are diametrically opposed to our national interests. Global climate change, the spread of vector borne diseases, and the rampant overuse of nonrenewable and renewable resources are just three such forces currently in play. The decisions that you make during your tenure will be pivotal relative to the health and well-being of our citizens, as well as the citizens of the world. Recognize the fact that you are governing, just as Lincoln did, during a period of history that will resonate for centuries to come. Make wise environmental decisions even if they are not necessarily politically advantageous. Our futures depend upon it.
-Alan Kolok, Modern Poisons
“I would urge the President to take strong action to pass climate change legislation in Congress. The form that climate change legislation would take would depend on the politics, but it is imperative that the U.S. begins to lead the world to action on climate change. Climate change isn’t even my own professional issue of focus (I would love to talk to the President about how to make our cities more resilient, green, and livable), but it seems to me clearly the crisis issue. Every major scientific study that is coming out is pointing toward serious consequences of climate change, happening now. Rather than thinking about climate change that will impact my kids’ lives, I am realizing it will deeply impact my own as well.”
-Rob McDonald, Conservation for Cities
If I had a chance to sit face-to-face with the winning candidate, my advice would be something like: Think about the welfare of our grandchildren when you make decisions on energy and environmental issues. Consider not just the short-term impacts but the long-term consequences of sea-level rise, extreme weather events, droughts, and loss of agricultural land. Set an example for reducing carbon emissions based on energy efficiency and renewable energy that can serve as a model for developing countries. Listen to our climate scientists and heed their warnings. Trust their advice on global warming in the same way you trust the advice of your physician with regard to your personal health.
-Charles Eley, Design Professional’s Guide to Zero Net Energy Buildings
I would push for the next President to try again (yes, again!) to work on bipartisan climate action, perhaps with a revenue-neutral carbon tax like the Initiative 732 campaign that I’m a part of in Washington State. We’re proud to have endorsements from three Republicans in the state legislature as well as from a bunch of Democrats. The short-sighted opposition from some left-wing groups (including some mainstream “environmental” groups) highlights the risk of making climate change a partisan wedge issue for electing Democrats instead of an existential issue for all Americans. We need to try harder to build a big tent for lasting climate action, and that’s one one reason I’m so fond of the quote at the end of this NYT story (about the failed attempt by enviros to win control of the Washington State legislature for the Democrats in Nov 2014): “The most important thing is to normalize this issue [climate change] with Republicans,” said Mark Mellman, a Democratic strategist. “Anything that makes it more partisan makes it less likely that there will be legislation, until such time as Democrats take over the world. Which according to my watch, will not be happening anytime soon.”
-Yoram Bauman, Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change
I would urge the President to reassert cross-departmental efforts such as the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to further empower local governments and constituents to meet ongoing challenges of urban development, because those challenges of land use, transportation, affordability will not be entirely met by private market solutions. I would also advise that the new administration investigate further centralizing resources relevant to urban areas, and evaluate (as was once proposed by Richard Florida) a new cabinet-level position focused on cities and rapidly urbanizing areas. Finally, I would suggest to the President that the federal government should lead by example by illustrating methods to elevate civic dialogue, including program development and funding to encourage individuals to obtain firsthand knowledge of the cities around them through careful observation and input into urban political and regulatory processes.
-Charles Wolfe, Seeing the Better City
Challenging as this will be even to try, much less accomplish, the next President should work to return a spirit of compromise and cooperation to the American political conversation. On the current course, no real progress toward environmental or social sustainability is possible. The impacts of climate change and demographic pressure are now becoming obvious to people of all political persuasions. Growing awareness may eventually offer room for fresh policy ideas: a carbon tax with proceeds turned into dividends and a universal basic income for all citizens, access for all to comprehensive sexuality education and reproductive health services, and humane and sustainable migration law.
-Robert Engelman, More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want
As much as climate change will affect the United States, we likely have the capacity to adapt more effectively than most other countries—at least in terms of human welfare. At the same time, US demand for foreign goods and services is not going away; I, for one, don’t care what you say about the damn environment—I’m having my morning cup of tea or coffee come hell or high water (the latter an increasingly distinct possibility). If my personal recalcitrance is at all reflective of our national attitude, we nonetheless ought to be striving for a broadly-defined international stance that fully and coherently accounts for climate change. Specifically, in a world where the actions of our friends and our enemies will be increasingly defined by surging resource constraints (as well as “releases”—think Arctic oil…), our next President should focus on integrating foreign aid, fair trade, free trade, and military/security policy in a way that anticipates the incoming tsunami of threats—and opportunities—posed by climate chaos.
-Charles Chester, Climate and Conservation
In general terms, I believe the wealth of the nation lies in two areas: natural resources and human resources. As a matter of national defense priority, these areas require policy attention at the national level. Attending to these issues requires commitment and collaboration among all political, ethnic, religious and socio-economic affiliations—it is time for the adults to take charge. In particular, it will be necessary to harness their combined strengths in a public and private partnership initiative. An outline of my top priorities topics includes the following:
Natural Resources/Climate Change:
-Michael Murphy, Landscape Architecture Theory, Second Edition
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read Glenn Beck’s recent commentary in the New York Times. “The only way for our society to work is for each of us to respect the views of others, and even try to understand and empathize with one another,” he wrote. He took the words right out of my mouth. And so, Glenn and I urge the next President to do exactly that, reach across the aisle, connect with the great diversity of people and views in this country, and with respect and empathy seek to understand.
-Lucy Moore, Common Ground on Hostile Turf
Given the evident impact of rampant development pressures and climate change on our nation’s wildlife populations and diverse ecosystems, I urge the next President to endorse and promote a strong federal leadership role in collaborative landscape-scale planning efforts among federal, state, tribal, and private landowners in order to ensure our natural heritage is conserved for present and future generations.
-Robert Keiter, To Conserve Unimpaired
Dear Future POTUS,
The U.S. must be consumed with the urgent goal of retooling the energy infrastructure of our country and the world. Cooperatively mobilizing with other nations, our government—we, the people—must immediately, using all just and complementary means at our disposal—e.g., directives, incentives, and disincentives—close down fossil fuel operations and facilitate replacing coal, oil, and gas dependencies with cradle-to-cradle manufacture and ecologically and socially sensitive installation of ready, climate-responsible technologies, including locally scaled wind turbines, geothermal plants, and solar panels.
No less urgently, as a globally-responsible facilitator, the U.S.—members of all administrative branches together with the citizenry who have chosen them—must, with forthright honesty and transparency, support a matured narrative of progress that is alluring across political spectrums. This story must redefine power to integrate economic prosperity with other commonly held values—such as equality, justice, democratic liberty, and skillful love for land that interpenetrates with human health and flourishing. It must recall people to ourselves and each other not as mere individual consumers, but as diverse, empowered, capably caring members—across generations—of families, neighborhoods, and of the whole ecosphere of interdependencies—bedrock to sunlight—the source of Earth’s life.
Julianne Lutz Warren, Plain member of the U.S. and Earth, and author of Aldo Leopold’s Odyssey, Tenth Anniversary Edition
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
This holiday season, give the gift of an Island Press book. With a catalog of more than 1,000 books, we guarantee there's something for everyone on your shopping list. Check out our list of staff selections, and share your own ideas in the comments below.
For the OUTDOORSPERSON in your life:
Water is for Fighting Over...and Other Myths about Water in the West by John Fleck
Anyone who has ever rafted down the Colorado, spent a starlit night on its banks, or even drank from a faucet in the western US needs Water is for Fighting Over. Longtime journalist John Fleck will give the outdoors lover in your life a new appreciation for this amazing river and the people who work to conserve it. This book is a gift of hope for the New Year.
Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man by Jason Mark
Do you constantly find your friend waxing poetic about their camping tales and their intimate connection to the peaceful, yet mysterious powers of nature? Sounds like they will relate to Jason Mark’s tales of his expeditions across a multitude of American landscapes, as told in Satellites in the High Country. More than a collection of stories, this narrative demonstrates the power of nature’s wildness and explores what the concept of wild has come to mean in this Human Age.
What Should a Clever Moose Eat?: Natural History, Ecology, and the North Woods by John Pastor
Is the outdoorsperson in your life all dressed up in boots, parka, and backpack with nowhere to go? Looking for meaning in another titanium French press coffeemaker for the camp stove? What Should a Clever Moose Eat leaves the technogadgets behind and reminds us that all we really need to bring to the woods when we venture out is a curious mind and the ability to ask a good question about the natural world around us. Such as, why do leaves die? What do pine cones have to do with the shape of a bird’s beak? And, how are blowflies important to skunk cabbage? A few quality hours among its pages will equip your outdoor enthusiast to venture forth and view nature with new appreciation, whether in the North Woods with ecologist John Pastor or a natural ecosystem closer to home.
Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change by Yoram Bauman
This holiday season, give your favorite climate-denier a passive aggressive “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” with The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change featuring self –described Stand-up Economist Yoram Bauman and award-winning illustrator Grady Klein. Give the gift of fun, entertaining basic understanding of what is, undeniably and not up for subjective debate, scientific fact!
For the HEALTH NUT in your life:
Unnatural Selection: How We Are Changing Life, Gene by Gene by Emily Monosson
Give the health nut in your life the gift of understanding with Unnatural Selection. Your friends and family will discover how chemicals are changing life on earth and how we can protect it. Plus, they’ll read fascinating stories about the search for a universal vaccine, the attack of relentless bedbugs, and a miracle cancer drug that saved a young father’s life.
For the ADVOCATE in your life:
Prospects for Resilience: Insights from New York City's Jamaica Bay by Sanderson, et. al
Need an antidote to the doom and gloom? Stressed-out environmental advocates will appreciate Prospects for Resilience: Insights from New York City's Jamaica Bay. It’s a deep dive into one of the most important questions of our time: how can we create cities where people and nature thrive together? Prospects for Resilience showcases successful efforts to restore New York’s much abused Jamaica Bay, but its lessons apply to any communities seeking to become more resilient in a turbulent world.
Ecological Economics by Josh Farley and Herman Daly
Blow the mind of the advocate in your life with a copy of Ecological Economics by the godfather of ecological economics, Herman Daly, and Josh Farley. In plain, and sometimes humorous English, they’ll come to understand how our current economic system does not play by the same laws that govern nearly every other system known to humankind—that is, the laws of thermodynamics. Given recent financial and political events, there’s a message of hope within the book as it lays out specific policy and social change frameworks.
For the CRAZY CAT PERSON in your life:
An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz
The cat lovers in your life will lose themselves in An Indomitable Beast, an illuminating story about the journey of the jaguar. This is the perfect book for any of your feline loving friends, whether they want to pursue adventure with the big cats of the wild, or stay home with a book and cup of tea.
For the GARDENER in your life:
Wild by Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes by Margie Ruddick
Give your favorite gardener an antidote to the winter blues. The lush photographs of Wild by Design, and inspirational advice on cultivating landscapes in tune with nature, transport readers to spectacular parks, gardens, and far-flung forests. This book is guaranteed to be well-thumbed and underlined by the time spring planting season arrives!
For the STUBBORN RELATIVE in your life:
Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator by Lucy Moore
For the person keeping the peace in your family this holiday season, the perfect gift is Common Ground on Hostile Turf, an inspiring how to guide demonstrating it is possible to bring vastly different views together. This book gives lessons learned on setting down at the table with the most diverse set of players and the journey they take to find common grounds and results. If your holiday dinner needs some mediation, look to the advice of author Lucy Moore.
Also consider: Communication Skills for Conservation Professionals by Susan Jacobson, Communicating Nature by Julia Corbett
For the HISTORY BUFF in your life:
The Past and Future City: How Historic Preservation is Reviving America's Communities by Stephanie Meeks with Kevin C. Murphy
When it comes to the the future of our cities, the secret to urban revival lies in our past. Tickle the fancy of your favorite history buff by sharing The Past and Future City, which takes readers on a journey through our country's historic spaces to explain why preservation is important for all communities. With passion and expert insight, this book shows how historic spaces explain our past and serve as the foundation of our future.
For the BUSINESS PERSON in your life:
Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature by Mark Tercek
For the aspiring CEO in your life who drools at phrases like "rates of return" and "investment," share the gift of Nature's Fortune, an essential guide to the world's economic (and environmental) well-being.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
As the new administration fills its leadership positions with climate deniers and energy lobbyists, many environmentalists like you find themselves discouraged.
Now more than ever, this is a time to promote policy approaches informed by science.
With your help, we will deliver a copy of The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change by Yoram Bauman and Grady Klein to every new member of Congress. That's 7 new Senators and 53 Representatives whose work will affect our future.
This cartoon introduction is based on the latest report from the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and integrates Bauman’s expertise on economics and policy.
Click HERE to do your part to help us make sure that the members of the 115th Congress understand that climate change is real. The time to act is now.
Island Press' Associate Director of Marketing.
On Monday January 30th I had the privilege of accompanying the Island Press team on a quest to affect political change. Thanks to a group of generous donors we were able to assemble together 60 copies of The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change by Yoram Bauman and Grady Klein. We travelled all over Capitol Hill visiting the offices of freshmen House and Senate members to bestow upon them a copy of the book. Though I didn’t manage to spot any lawmakers I still had a lot of fun. It was somewhat nerve-wracking to walk into a Congressperson or Senator's office unannounced but I eventually got used to it. It felt good to be doing something about climate change. I hope at least some of the Representatives and Senators we visited will take the time to read the book.
Isabella Austin says, "delivering the Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change to the freshman members of Congress was a rewarding experience because not many people are able to take advantage of having easily accessible government representatives. Capitol Hill can be intimidating, but seeing just how easy and encouraged it is to simply walk into the offices of our Senators and Representatives, even if you may not be able to talk them directly, can reassure anyone who wants to reach out that their voices, ideas, and opinions will be heard and passed along."
Here we are, meaning business. Watch as Katharine makes a science-delivery to Rep. Brown's (D, MD) office.
It might take some time before some Representatives read the book, digest the information, and base policy decisions on what they've learned.
This effort was made possible by the generous support of readers like you. Help Island Press continue to demand action guided by sound science. Make a gift today to take a stand for the environment.
Eric Bertsch is the current Web and Social Media Intern at Island Press
We asked Island Press authors to reflect on the idea of Trump Forest and offer their own suggestions for offsetting the damaging effects of the Trump administration. Their ideas—from Twitter-based fundraising to more walkable neighborhoods—are below. Have your own creative idea? Share it in the comments.
How about the Trump Military-Industrial Parks Funding Bill: for every dollar that the Trump administration's EPA saves for corporate polluters, a dollar is transferred from the budget for Defense Department and applied to funding for National Parks.
—Emily Monosson, Natural Defense
Planting trees for—or, more accurately, against—Trump and his policies is a great idea. We know that it’s not going to solve the problem of climate change, although every tree helps a little, and if we plant enough trees they will have a significant effect. But, perhaps just as important in the short term, every little gesture against the awful Donald contributes to the tide of protest by millions of people saying “we will not accept the attitudes of this president and we will not go along with his agenda."
I suggest creating an online platform where everyone who voted for Hillary (all 68 million of them) can sign up and pledge to give 1 cent—which would be automatically deducted from their bank accounts (if they have one)—every time Trump tweets. This money would then go to combating climate change denial organizations/agendas, which are (demonstrably) incredibly well-funded.
If even half of everyone who voted for Hillary did this, we could generate $3.4 million in one day alone. (34 million votes equals 34 million cents multiplied by 10—the amount of times he tweets daily, on average.) The environmental cause he donates to could change every day. Even changing the monetary amount to half or a quarter of a cent for every tweet would still generate a lot of money.”
—Michael Carolan, No One Eats Alone
The best way to offset the environmental impacts of the Trump administration is to advance smart policy at the state level and be prepared to do the same at the federal level once Trump leaves office… or if he changes his mind while in office! I am very worried that the GOP’s “Obamacare repeal” moment will be repeated in climate policy in a few years, and I speak from experience: 2016’s pioneering I-732 carbon tax ballot measure campaign in Washington State (which I founded and co-chaired) lost in part because of opposition from the “environmental left,” including the Sierra Club and Washington Conservation Voters. The same dynamic played out in California earlier this year, with the Sierra Club and 350.org opposing the extension of California’s cap-and-trade system.
And you can watch it happening again in Washington State as the groups that splintered with the grassroots I-732 campaign are now splintering with each other about a 2018 ballot measure. So: If you’re on the right side of the political spectrum then there’s lots of work to do getting conservatives to pay attention to the risks of climate change (Bob Inglis and his compatriots at RepublicEn are one great resource), and if you’re on the left, well, as the Washington Post editorial board put it, “The left’s opposition to a carbon tax shows there’s something deeply wrong with the left.” Fix it.
—Yoram Bauman, Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change
A good place to plant many of those trees is along the streets of America’s cities, towns, and villages. It’s been shown again and again that a canopy of street trees can significantly lower the air temperature of a block or a neighborhood or a larger area during the height of summer. That makes for more comfortable living. It reduces the need for air conditioning. It encourages people to walk or bike to nearby destinations rather than drive a car. Moreover, street trees make a place more beautiful. They persuade people—at least some people—that living in a somewhat dense neighborhood is not a sacrifice—it’s an advantage.
Along with planting trees, we should put more emphasis on making the street network safer for pedestrians. Especially important is what happens at intersections, the most dangerous parts of the street network. Some intersections need to be narrowed, to get motorists to slow down and to reduce the distance that pedestrians have to cross. On long or especially busy blocks, segments of the planter strips could be extended into the street, causing vehicles to move at a more reasonable speed and helping people to cross the street safely.
Follow examples from cities like Portland, Oregon, where centers of many neighborhood intersections have been planted, moderating the speeds on residential streets. In front of some neighborhood shops, encourage merchants to create patios where people can come together, eat and drink, and get to know one another. On Orange Street in the East Rock section of New Haven, Connecticut, where small stores are interspersed among houses and apartment buildings, patios of this sort have been created, giving the neighborhood a more congenial atmosphere than previously existed.
Making a greener, more beautiful, more sociable environment benefits people in many different ways.
—Phil Langdon, Within Walking Distance
There's no lack necessary actions we can take. But where to start? Or perhaps better asked: How can I channel my outrage into something that's constructive but also as satisfying as ripping out part of my sink? (After all, outrage is an itch best scratched soon lest you turn into a humorless crank.)
Seed-bombing Trump golf courses with wildflowers and edibles immediately comes to mind, though admittedly that ranks high on "satisfying" and not much else. Punching literal Nazis on the street is constructive, in a way, though it's not a skill I currently possess. Keeping up with my curated Twitter roster of political and environmental experts is more important than it sometimes feels (especially when the underrated Sarah Kendzior has a new post) but it's also far from satisfying.
Of course, anything that makes a whit of difference is generally going to be neither easy nor quick. Meaningful changes take time, time spent in setting intention, executing action, and curating results. I think this holds true whether you're raising a garden, starting an activist organization, or making a footprint-reducing lifestyle change.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.