Reviewed by Carolynn Sears
Sixth Grade Teacher
Global Warming: Understanding the Debate leads young readers through the very relevant, complex, and conceptually rich topic of global warming. This evenhanded treatment of the debate would be accessible to a mature sixth grade reader, but would best serve older students with a stronger science background.
The writing is well illustrated, and complex concepts are supported with metaphors. For example: “The Earth’s average temperature is not controlled by a simple thermostat. Instead, a web of... forces interact” (p. 36), or “If you have played a video or computer game, you have used a computer model” (p. 194). In 112 pages of text, the reader receives a through introduction to the debate about the evidence, causes, and responses to global warming.
I like the way the author raises questions which promote scientific thinking and an understanding of the scientific method: "How do you take the temperature of an entire planet?” In another section he discusses the measurement challenges and limitations of each data set taken. For example, although tree-ring growth patterns can help scientists estimate temperatures hundreds of years ago, this evidence also is dependent on rainfall and other factors.
One shortcoming is the omission that ice core research provides additional evidence for rapid climate change in the Earth’s history. Sudden and radical changes in the past may have implications for the present. I give this book “5 book marks” and recommend it for a study of global warming or issues in science.
Review posted on 5/12/2003