Book Review pic

It stormed again last night.

That was exactly what you didn’t need. You don’t need another puddle, snowdrift, windstorm, or hailstone. If it wouldn’t get too cold or too hot anymore, you’d be okay with that, too. So how do you explain weird weather causes to adults who don’t believe in science? In “Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change” by Dr. John Cook, you’ll get wind of some ideas.

Think fast.

If something happens suddenly, that’s pretty easy to do. The human brain has evolved through the centuries to react quickly to danger, which is why it might be hard to wrap your cranium around climate change: “global warming is a slow-motion disaster” that science had known about for decades.

How it became a political issue is a shorter story.

Says Cook, it started out with a nod toward human-caused global warming and an argument against government regulation in favor of free markets, which got big industries involved. They became worried about the cost of science on their bottom lines, and so they hired firms to sow doubt, making the “general public” believe that climate change was nothing. Science believers and non-believers ultimately divided along political lines.

The facts are there, though, says Cook: seasons have shifted over the past thirty years or so. Glaciers are melting, causing sea levels to rise and wildlife to suffer. You might have noticed more catastrophic storms. He points at climate change.

But when faced with your “Cranky Uncle,” what can you do?

Be educated, and know the myths and history of global warming. Learn to understand the other side, and remember that climate deniers are “a small but vocal minority.” When discussing climate change, know the three laws of science communication and that there’s no reason to yell. Also remember that climate deniers’ viewpoints are deeply entrenched. You’re unlikely to change minds, even with facts at your fingertips.

And that irritates you so much: wild weather, glacial melting, the danger to humans and animals, it’s hard to understand why anybody would ignore what’s happening. “Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change” might help with your frustration, but take it slow.

As you’ll see from this books’ first few pages, the issues are complicated-not-complicated, in that they’re clear cut to both sides. Author Dr. John Cook surely educates readers who’ll need to understand both POVs before presenting any kind of arguments for science. It’s also quite helpful to know how this all happened, and that becomes clear through graphic-novel-type drawings and an abundance of sidebars. Still, it’s... complicated.

Be aware, though, that this book is as absolutely politically one-sided as you might expect. It’s not something you leave lying around when your conservative uncle drops by, or when you’re hosting a family dinner. It’s not small-talk fodder.

It’s also not a breezy read. Understanding “Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change” takes conscious thought, openness, maturity, and patience. If you possess those traits, are 15-or-older, and have an activist’s heart, you’ll love this book. If not, its usefulness to you will be a little cloudy.

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