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How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate

By Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch. Dawn Publications, 2008. 66 pages, $17.95.

Reviewed by Cody Adams

Climate change doesn’t just affect adults. With this in mind authors Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch set out to educate children about the topic of global warming with How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate. Though the tone of the book, which is fairly text-heavy, probably requiring parental guidance for younger readers, is gentle, the aim of the book is proactive. As the authors say early on, “science is like a serious conversation,” and the book does not shy away from detailed scientific explanations. One goal of this educational reader seems to be establishing the concept and validity of science in general, a particular stumbling block for America’s slack public school curriculum.

How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate
Image courtesy Dawn Publications
How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate
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Though the book covers much of the same ground, albeit at a lower reading level, as Al Gore’s famous global warming presentation, it is never alarmist, and instead focuses on the grounded evidence for global climate change and the collective efforts of many different kinds of scientists. Attractive photographs of the natural world, working scientists, easy to read graphs, and kids in action frame the many short essays, which examine a range of topics from CO2 capture in the rainforest to mud cores taken from the bottom of the ocean. The book slowly and thoughtfully gathers a body of evidence about the nigh irrefutable connection between CO2 emissions and global warming, taking its time before it presents the underlying dangers posed by the process. The authors are also careful to show how kids around the world have been a part of the movement by collecting data as “citizen scientists.” Programs like Journey North, which traces Monarch butterfly migrations, and Project Budburst, which notes how early plants and trees flower each year, provide a way for students to directly contribute to the ongoing body of climate change research.

Parents reading the book to their children might just learn something themselves, as the dynamics and science behind global warming are laid out in a simple-to-understand way. The differentiation between weather and climate is also made early on, a critical concept that many adults in the media still fail to grasp. And, should a child reader wish to learn more, get involved with a variety of “citizen scientist” organizations, or reduce his carbon footprint, the book provides a robust listing of groups and resources.
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