No more heavy textbooks. Comic books are a terrific way to convey easy-to-understand information about complex issues like climate change.
It's too bad that cartoons have a bit of a bad reputation in the United States as being "just for kids." That's certainly not true in other countries (see Japanese manga) and it doesn't have to be true in the United States. Cartoon books are a terrific way to convey information, especially to audiences that might not have the patience or interest to plow through a thick book—and there are a lot of folks who fit that bill when it comes to climate change. That's why I've partnered with graphic novelist and illustrator Grady Klein to create The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change.
I didn't set out to be an educational cartoon author. After college I was trying to figure out what to do with my life and I got interested in environmental taxes and other ways of using capitalism to protect the environment. I took only one environmental economics course in college, but a think tank in Seattle was looking for an intern to work on a book about environmental taxes. Eventually I co-authored the book Tax Shift. I then went to graduate school to learn more about environmental economics and tax policy, but that book played a small role in the creation of the terrific carbon tax in British Columbia.
I also got into stand-up comedy as a hobby, and realized that was another way to spread the message about environmental taxes, especially to audiences that otherwise might not hear it. I entertain a lot of business groups and conservative-leaning audiences and I do my best to convince them that climate change is a serious problem and that we can tackle it with market-friendly solutions that can also make the economy stronger. (I try to convince left-leaning audiences of that too!)
I became the world's first and only stand-up economist, carbon tax advocate, and activist, so it was only natural that I add writing educational comic books to the mix. Grady and I previously partnered on the two-volume Cartoon Introduction to Economics and we've been invited by the good folks at nonprofit publisher Island Press to co-author this text on the science, impacts, and policy of global warming. We're envisioning this as a book that folks who know and care about climate change can learn something from, but also a book that they can give to their neighbors, to their friends, to their kids and their parents, and to others who may not be "in the climate change choir."
Like all endeavors—especially interdisciplinary ones— writing this book about climate change is an ongoing process. I'm fortunate enough to have a number of climate scientist friends and they help me understand things and point me towards useful references. It certainly won't be the last word on climate change, but we hope that for many people the cartoon format will be the first they read on the subject.
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This project will be featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.