My New Favorite Book: The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change

The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change was released this week by Island Press and I highly recommend you check it out. It's 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.

Written by Yoram Bauman, the world's only stand-up economist, and award-winning illustrator Grady Klein, the book covers a range of science and economics lessons on everything from the beginning of the earth to our current carbon-bloated economies. And there's even genetically engineered poopless dogs!

Ultimately, The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change presents a convincing argument that we must put a price on carbon and transition away from fossil fuels in order to safeguard our future. 

If you've ever struggled to explain global warming science or the need for action to someone in your family or social networks, perhaps this is the book you've been waiting for.

From the Keeling Curve to the Milankovitch cycles and Arrhenius to Einstein, the book presents an easy-to-follow history of scientific achievements and challenges in understanding our planet's past and predicting the future.  

Here is a page from the book to demonstrate just how cleverly it delivers a complex message: 



The book has received high praise from the likes of James Hansen, Annie Leonard, Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times and more. But my favorite blurb about the book is from former NOAA head Jane Lubchenco, who describes the book as: 

“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!” 

With a glowing review like that, this book should fly off the shelves, yes? 

Here is another cartoon from the book that I enjoyed, comparing the tobacco and climate science files in a cheeky but accurate way: 



I asked Yoram Bauman — who has become a friend of mine over the past several years here in Seattle — what he thinks about President Obama's new climate action initiatives via the EPA carbon rule, and whether his book would be a good primer for legislators who don't seem to grasp the need for climate action. Here is his response: 


Given that Congress refuses to adopt a sensible climate policy like a revenue-neutral carbon tax, Obama is doing what he can with the regulatory tools at his disposal. I think The Economist's take (“In praise of second best”) is pretty good. As they note, the EPA expects coal to still make up 31% of electricity production in 2030, so that's a good indication that this is a pretty modest step towards climate action.

But it's better than nothing, and it will definitely encourage states to put a price on carbon. (There's specific language in the regulations to give states flexibility to do that.) Carbon pricing can include either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, and there's a really good introduction to those topics in my new book, so I definitely recommend it for state legislators and others confused about carbon pricing… or about the basics of climate science!

So while you're out there buying a copy for your skeptical uncle and yourself, why not grab an extra to send to your state representatives? 

Here are a few upcoming events where you can get a signed copy of the book and listen to the author discuss it. For details, see this page on Yoram Bauman's upcoming appearances

- June 9  Town Hall  Seattle, WA

- June 11  Resources for the Future Conference Center  Washington, DC

- June 12  Harvard Coop Bookstore  Boston, MA

- June 13  RJ Julie Bookstore  Madison, CT

Check the website for more appearances, including Portland, San Francisco and Vancouver, BC