Cover of Eyes Wide Open

Review: Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open – Going Behind the Environmental Headlines, is a book aimed at young adults concerned about the climate crisis. Each page is packed with pictures, exploded links for more information, and facts to help orient readers on the information being presented.

As for the actual text itself, each chapter goes over a different piece of the climate crisis. Although it covers a broad range of topics involving the climate, there’s only a moderate amount of detail. The book is essentially a summery of the climate crisis, with links to more information if the reader is interested.

This is a great format for people who aren’t familiar with the topic of the climate crisis in my opinion, because it allows people to inform themselves about the entire topic with more research options available to provide that extra detail.

Although a few (older) readers complained about the layout of the book, I thought it was actually very well laid out. The text is frequently broken up with headers that not only set up the problems well, but also make it easier to read. The book also often gives frequent real life examples of climate change that help frame it for young minds.

Critical Thinking Allowed

In a world awash with blogs, memes, and ‘fake news’, it was refreshing that Eyes Wide Open included a chapter on how to sift through content to find the truth. This final chapter in the book was quite possibly the best out of all of them. It teaches the reader how to weigh the information presented, including what the source is, whether there are references, and whether the person writing has a vested interest.

The unfortunate truth is, anybody with an internet connection can write an article and put it up for other people to view. Without needing any kind of credentials or sourcing at all. Other times front groups that sound pro-environmental, actually have an opposing agenda.

The final chapter walks you through the process of sorting information, and helps you weigh the information given to help find the truth.

An update from the author

This book is slightly older, so we e-mailed author Paul Fleischman to find out if the climate crisis is occuring faster than he expected. (The book is relatively calm considering the damage we’re already seeing.) He kindly replied. This is his response, reposted with permission:

Things have indeed happened much faster than expected.  When I was writing Eyes Wide Open, climate change felt like a serious issue but a future one.  No longer, courtesy of the past five years’ weather-related events.  I live on the central coast of California, close to several of last year’s fires, and came away from that year feeling in constant Code Red, with summer a season to be feared from now on.  As my in-laws lived in Alabama and required much care during the past three years, we went back and forth between fire and hurricanes and tornadoes. 

Are governments doing enough?  Absolutely not.  But they’re simply responding to the public, most of which isn’t demanding the sort of changes that a hard turn away from disaster would require.  Why?  That was the book’s main topic: given that the writing is on the wall, what’s keeping us from responding?  The principles and phenomena I described, from vested interests to denial to bias toward the present, are all active and powerful.  I do think that recent weather-related events have made climate change more real to more people, resulting in a sense of urgency regarding the Glasgow summit that’s unlike any I’ve seen.  Whether action will follow is the big question.

-Paul Fleischman

We can’t agree more. Government isn’t doing enough. More pressure is needed by people like you and me to help keep our world habitable.

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