I received a copy of How Are You, Mother Earth? We Are Taking You to the Doctor! and thought I would be looking at a book for young children. The cover art had that feel, as did the inside illustrations. However, it is aimed at a fuller and deeper audience. (And yes, I had to read some of the science passages twice!)
The author, Gordon Hunter, is a biology professor with thirty-four years on the job (now retired). He has undertaken the mission to make the global warming crisis understandable and digestible. The major takeaway is the imperative need to switch to “natural energy consumption.”
As a grandfather of seven and a great-grandfather of four, Hunter not only talks the talk, he practices what he preaches. He owns a hybrid car, his house it outfitted with solar panels, and he recycles with enthusiasm.
When I reached out to him via e-mail, he wrote that his target was the 12-17 year old age range (middle school and early high school). He envisions the book being shelved in libraries, “high school libraries specifically.” He added, “My goal is to call people’s attention to global warming and climate change by presenting the facts in a scenario that is easily understood—a trip to the doctor.”
The narrative follows “Mother Earth” undergoing a check-up. It’s a soup to nuts undertaking, which forms the basis of six chapters.
- Age and Weight
- Respiration and Air Quality
- Circulation an Fluid Analysis
Luckily there are plenty of experts on hand, from the “We Know University,” to fill in the blanks when the regular doctors are stumped. Along the way, I learned about earth being bombarded by asteroids and comets, barometric pressure, and the keeling curve—which shows “how rapidly carbon dioxide is rising in the atmosphere.”
The earth’s water stands in for the body’s blood. It is explained that the earth’s circulation is comprised of a three-part process: the water cycle; continental circulation: ocean circulation. Okay, that’s when I felt like I was back in earth science! But I perked up with the recognition of the stat that there is an ever-increasing list of over 600 toxic chemicals that is impacting our water quality.
During earth’s “fluid analysis,” Hunter has one of his characters discuss how mercury and carbon dioxide make their way into the waterways. A description of the release of mercury into the atmosphere, how it condenses over water, and then pollutes it and affects the fish is laid out. Also defined is the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — which continues to escalated based on the “combustion” of the energies being utilized for power: natural gas, gasoline, coal, and fossil fuels.
Mother Earth’s condition is described as, “sick and getting sicker” — and that’s only halfway through the check up!
I particularly responded to the “dermatology” analogy and a discussion of earth’s surface. Here, Hunter refers to the deep infections that go beneath the skin. Some are described as “festering sores” while others are referenced as “viral rashes.”
What are they?
“The deep infections are coal mines, oil wells, and natural gas wells whose products, while providing the human population energy, pollute the atmosphere and water.” Also pointed out are garbage dumps, deforestation, and the improper use of soil for agriculture. The doctor’s solution for these ills, driven by people, is a reduction of chemical waste and the use of renewable energies.
Not surprisingly, Mother Earth has a fever which is 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is quoted as indicating, “The problem is anthropogenic.” The suggested prescription for the earth’s ills is defined as “requiring cooperation from governments, corporations, businesses, and citizens.”
Hunter wraps up his findings with a medical report for Mother Earth. She is 4.5 billion years old, 10.6 septillion pounds, with normal pressure. All of her ailments call for the same treatment: Alternative energy sources.
I asked Hunter to comment on elected officials who state that there is no such thing as climate change. He replied, “Officials who do not believe in climate change are not well educated in these sciences, which means there is a great need for more education in this area.”
I’m thinking of sending my copy to Sen. James Inhofe. Perhaps it will be instructive.
Illustrations: Courtesy of Marvin Alonso