Above: Thermo the flying thermometer and his pals Fluffy and Puffy the cumulus clouds learn about how corn is used to make ethanol, a controversial fuel in the climate change debate.
Charming: that’s the best word to describe veteran Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton’s new children’s book on weather and climate change, The World of Thermo. Aimed at 10-year-olds, the book uses a series of short 2 – 4 page stories about a variety of weather and climate change topics, interspersed with colorful full-page cartoon illustrations.
The hero of the story is Thermo, a flying thermometer created in 1961 by climate scientist Dr. Charles Keeling (called Dr. Key in the story), the first climate scientist to call the world’s attention to the year-by-year rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Thermo comes to life in an electrical storm, and soon he and his cumulus cloud friends, Fluffy and Puffy, are zooming around the world, taking temperature measurements and observing numerous famous weather and climate events. Among the events they witness are the Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974, the great southern U.S. ice storm of 1973, the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, the 1993 Storm of the Century blizzard, the 1997-98 El Niño event, and multiple famous hurricanes: Hurricane Camille of 1969, Allen of 1980, Andrew of 1992, and Katrina of 2005.
We learn some meteorology about each event through story telling and a separate scientific summary section at the end of each chapter. For example, Thermo flies over Hurricane Andrew and successfully creates enough wind shear through use of his powerful rocket jets to weaken the storm. However, Andrew fights back and swats poor Thermo away, allowing the hurricane to intensify into a monstrous Category 5 beast.
|Figure 1. The nefarious Carbo, the carbon dioxide molecule, uses his telepathic powers to influence the minds of politicians so that they will adopt policies leading to the burning of more fossil fuels.|
Thermo battles the villainous Carbo and his nasty henchmen Roasty, Toasty, and Ghosty--tiny carbon dioxide molecules that exert a huge influence on the climate through their nefarious efforts to use telepathic powers to influence the minds of politicians to adopt policies, so that humans will burn more and more fossil fuels that will release trillions more carbon dioxide molecules. Here is how the book describes Carbo’s start:
Deep within a dark and enormous cave, Carbo the carbon dioxide molecule slept peacefully, just as he had been doing the past sixty million years. As part of a prehistoric fern, he had led an active life until a large dinosaur, a triceratops, ate the fern and trapped him inside the beast’s stomach.
After Carbo’s coal deposit gets mined and then burned in an 1870s train, the story continues:
“I am released!” Carbo shouted at the top of his microscopic lungs. Tumbling head over heels and circulating through the air with other fellow carbon dioxide molecules, he suddenly felt purposeful. He was helping to warm good old planet Earth.
“Yes!” Carbo declared. “This is my job! This is what I will live for!”
World of Thermo is $24.99 at Amazon (paperback) and is $14.99 on Kindle. I give it four stars out of four for its intended audience of 8 - 12 year-old children.
Guy Walton regularly blogs at guyonclimate.com, where he posts on climate change and weather. He is particularly well-known for his in-depth analyses of the ratio of high temperature to low temperature records for the U.S., on which he coauthored a landmark 2009 paper in Geophysical Research Letters.