Prompted by the disturbingly regular sight of dead bees on his driveway, Paul Fleischman has done our beleaguered planet a kindness: He’s inspected its environmental ills and given the next generation some analytical tools to sort through them. In “Eyes Wide Open,” Fleischman takes a broad view, beginning by debunking two widely perpetuated illusions: (a) “It’s always been this way” and (b) “Everything’s fine.” An acclaimed storyteller (“Bull Run”) and poet (“Joyful Noise”), Fleischman briskly describes, without gloom or doom, how we have gotten into this situation and how we may be able to get out of it. He looks at both science and money: “Science explains what nature is doing; money often explains what we’re doing.” He also draws on history, psychology and sociology to illuminate what population, power and politics have to do with climate change. The book makes clear that the scarcity and side effects of fossil fuels make current consumption rates unsustainable, but Fleischman doesn’t want people to throw up their hands in despair. Acknowledging the complexities of science and human behavior, he says it make sense for fossil-fuel companies to behave as they do in search of profits; it’s up to the rest of us to understand our own interests. Full of pertinent historical references and images, the book provides many ideas on how to learn more, be hopeful and take action.
EYES WIDE OPEN
Going Behind the Environmental Headlines
By Paul Fleischman
Candlewick. $17.99. Ages 14 and up