Paul Fleischman offers teens an environmental wake-up call and a tool kit for decoding the barrage of conflicting information confronting them. We're living in an Ah-Ha moment. Take 250 years of human ingenuity. Add abundant fossil fuels. The result: a population and lifestyle never before seen. The downsides weren't visible for centuries, but now they are. Suddenly everything needs rethinking — suburbs, cars, fast food, cheap prices. It's a changed world. This book explains it. Not with isolated facts, but the principles driving attitudes and events, from vested interests to denial to big-country syndrome. Because money is as important as molecules in the environment, science is joined with politics, history, and psychology to provide the briefing needed to comprehend the 21st century. Extensive back matter, including a glossary, bibliography, and index, as well as numerous references to websites, provides further resources.
Grades 8-12. This remarkable book offers young people the tools they need to become informed, responsible global citizens. While it opens with a tale of Fleischman finding dead bees in his driveway, the discussion quickly broadens to consider the application of critical thinking skills to environmental issues. Rather than advising readers to take specific actions, Fleischman tells them how to evaluate information on topics such as climate change and encourages them to take action by charting a course that seems reasonable. He also discusses techniques to sway public opinion, such as sowing doubt, discrediting scientific studies, and hiding corporate funding of organizations promoting, for example, fossil fuels. The cascade of facts, observations, informed commentary, and sage advice may occasionally overwhelm. On the whole, though, thoughtful readers will appreciate this insightful, refreshing title’s broad scope, use of specific examples, and the many references to related books, documentaries, and online articles, lectures, and interviews. The appended How to Weigh Information section is particularly excellent. A Newbery Medal–winning writer, Fleischman notes that he is no trained scientist, but his exceptional ability to organize the information here and present it articulately makes him a notable citizen scientist.