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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Global Warming for Ages 10 and Up

Air Date: Week of

Andrew Revkin in the Arctic (Alexandra Witze)

Andrew Revkin, science reporter for the New York Times, has a new book out about global warming. It's called “The North Pole Was Here” and it's geared for young readers. Chelsea Rosenthal a senior at South Portland High school reviews Revkin's new book.


CURWOOD: Andrew Revkin has been reporting on climate change since he started writing for the New York Times more than a decade ago. He's traveled the world breaking stories on climate research and uncovering government attempts to censor findings confirming global warming. And in his spare time, he's been hanging out in the Arctic.

Andy Revkin's new book, “The North Pole Was Here,” compiles what he's learned about global warming at the top of the world, and puts it in a form geared for readers age ten and up. We asked Chelsea Rosenthal, she’s a senior at South Portland High School in Portland, Maine, to give us a review.

ROSENTHAL: I can tell you that the symbol for Potassium on the periodic table is the letter K, that the formula for the speed of light is 3 X 10^8 meters per second, and that the mitochondrion exists in both plant and animal cells. But not one science course in all of my high school years had a unit on global warming. No lessons on climate change, or the impact it could have on our lives.

I believe the youth in America today care about the future and care about the planet, but we just don't know enough about it. That's where New York Times science reporter Andrew Revkin comes in. His new book, “The North Pole Was Here,” targets a younger group of readers. He says, "I decided to speak to the next generation…it's their world that today's adults are affecting."

Andrew Revkin in the Arctic (Peter West/National Science Foundation)

Just by looking at the book you can tell it would attract a younger crowd. It's filled with color photographs, maps and assorted articles on the North Pole. Revkin really took a good look at the history of the Arctic Ocean and those who explored it, but he also gives information on what present day scientists are studying there, and what their findings could mean for the rest of the planet.

And really, who wouldn't want to read a book that takes you to the top of the world? Revkin wrote some of the articles on the ice, with a computer covered in pocket warmers to keep the battery from freezing. And this wasn't just your standard pond ice, this was fragmented sea ice covering arctic ocean two miles deep. In his time on the North Pole Revkin saw 24 hours of straight sunlight and he even had to carry around a shotgun in case a polar bear showed up in camp. “The North Pole Was Here” is more than just a book. It's an adventure to a place few of us will ever get to see.

Revkin has been writing about global warming for years. And it's a tough message to get through to people. If everyone’s high school science class experience is like mine, this is probably because most of us don’t really understand exactly what global warming is and what it could mean.

Global warming is caused by the release of greenhouse gases into the air, which then trap in heat. For the majority of the world, the change in climate will be gradual. Revkin describes it as a thermostat, slowly being turned up – we won’t notice big changes from day to day.

But, it's a different story in the Arctic. Revkin says it would be like flipping a switch or a knob. The change would be that dramatic. If the air above the Arctic Ocean rises above 32 degrees, then the ice will immediately start to melt. The more water exposed, the less of the sun's rays will be reflected, and this in turn would cause more heat to be absorbed. Then more ice will melt and sea levels will rise.

I think I’d like to visit the UK before London is under water and Great Britain morphs into a new tropical landscape. Though this scenario may seem far out, if we all maintain the lifestyles we have now, it won't be impossible. We know that human beings are contributing to global warming. We also know that we're getting dangerously close to a tipping point where we won't be able to make up for the damage we've done. But there's so much more that today's business and political leaders could be doing to fight global warming.

Andrew Revkin’s book, “The North Pole Was Here,” shows people of my generation that we need to form our own path. We only have one world. And the race to save it is coming down to the wire.

CURWOOD: Chelsea Rosenthal is a senior at South Portland High School and a frequent contributor to the Blunt Youth Radio Project in Portland, Maine. She reviewed Andy Revkin’s new book. It's called “The North Pole Was Here.”



The Blunt Youth Radio Project of Portland, Maine.

Andrew Revkin's Arctic Multimedia Collection


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