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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines, by Paul Fleischman. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2014. $11.00 ages 14 and up

" A hunter-gatherer's needs are few, but a Western citizen expects a car, paved streets, hot water on demand, airports, sewer lines, phone service, a refrigerator, computer, microwave, and a PlayStation ...  as a start.  ...The West holds 20 percent of the world's people but uses 75 percent of its resources to fund its standard of living."

If you are among those people who do not believe that there is such a thing as
'climate change', or you like to think that everything is just fine the way it is because it has always been this way, you might want to take the time to read this impressive book. If you are a young person wanting to make the world that you will live in better, you absolutely should read this book! Once read, you need to talk about it with your friends, your family, your fellow students in high school or at university.

Paul Fleischman sets out with a plan for his readers - 'to give you a foundation under your decisions.' What a wonderful way to give us choices! He clearly states, using many references and a terrific design, that history is happening all around us. It is an important premise to understand. What has happened, and will continue to happen, in regards to climate change has everything to do with personal and societal decisions.

It takes careful reading and clear thinking to understand all that he wants us to know about the state of our world. He definitely helps readers understand issues that have affected the environment throughout history. There are varying views - he encourages his audience to look at all of them. There are so many concerns; there is also hope.

"If environmental stress can lead to competition and discord, the opposite is also true. Building up soil, protecting forests and fish stocks, and avoiding overpopulation and climate change all work to prevent conflict before it starts. Good stewardship might not seem to be doing anything. What's not visible is the savings in lives and livelihoods and the expense and trauma of wars never declared, mass migrations never made, and disasters that never had to be cleaned up."

In the How to Weigh Information section, Mr. Fleischman encourages us to judge media carefully, and to try to avoid being fooled by everything that is written and reported. There are many avenues for checking what you are reading and hearing. Find sources you trust and use them to help answer any questions you might have. Great advice, to be sure. It is complex; but, I guarantee that once you start reading this worthy work, you will not want to put it down. You will come away from the reading much more informed, and with some tools to make the changes you can to make this world a better place for future generations.

Back matter is extensive and includes an abundance of source notes, a bibliography, suggested resources, glossary, acknowledgements, image credits, and an index.

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