The Air Up There

Philippe Squarzoni’s “Climate Changed” is an interesting first-person narrative, in that, the reader experiences the journey of a graphic novelist’s process to create and tell a story. This chronicle is a story within itself as the narrator discloses to readers his experiences in the recitation. With this in mind, interpretively, “Climate Changed” could be Squarzoni’s own personal methodology and struggle to write this book. The storyline’s setting is in France, which indicates that environmental awareness is most prevalent on a global scale. This fact is most relevant as the main protagonist gives a brief history of the “liberal policies during French President Jacques Chirac’s second term” (Squarzoni 27), and the negative impact these governmental policies had on France’s environment. During Chirac’s second electoral term in office, France experienced what can only be described as a horrific decline in the mandate to regulate environmental hazards like greenhouse gas emissions, industrial CO² emissions, and carbon emissions: “granting quotas 12% higher than greenhouse gas emission in previous years” (Squarzoni 30). The aforementioned relaxed quotas, embedded during President Chirac’s second term, was done as a means to give France an unfair economic advantage in the emissions free-marketplace; this concedes capitalism as the ultimate justification for disregarding protective environmental laws, and by extension, “greed” becomes the ultimate reason for future negative climate change.

Philippe focuses his narrative around the harmful causes of atmospheric disruption by introducing manmade industrial gases into earth’s atmosphere. There are three major reasons attributed to potential negative climate change: “one, the changes in earth’s orbit around the sun every 100,000-years. Two, the variations in the axes of our poles on a 60,000-year cycle. And three, the inversion every 13,000 years of which hemisphere is closer to the sun” (Squarzoni 40). The preceding three reasons are most logical, in that, science and research have proven these facts undisputable, which allows the author to imply that beyond human interferences, natural planetary occurrences will eventually cause a negative climate change, as it has done in centuries past. Similarly, like H.G. Wells in his short story “The Time Machine” with its planetary collapse theory, Squarzoni’s “Climate Changed” does not seek to solely blame humans’ interferences with nature as the only or primary reasons for future negative climate change. Philippe’s text complicatedly demonstrates that natural manifestations of multiple atmospheric elemental variances create climate change. Squarzoni presents an argument that deflects sole responsibility from being placed on human interference, but he does acknowledge that human evolution, and humans’ need to progress, with the invention of “industrial greenhouse gases: halocarbon, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCS), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCS), and perfluorocarbons (PFCS)” (Squarzoni 65), has exponentially increased the amount of greenhouse gases that negatively compromise the earth’s atmospheric layers. However, it is important to note that these industrial gases, if already present in the atmosphere, assist in blocking radiation from the sun (which is good for all living creatures), and adding minuscule amounts will not have a noticeable effect; conversely, when new industrial gases are introduced into the atmospheric layers, they interrupt the various wavelengths of solar radiation, creating traceable effects.

Contextually, the most compelling portion of the novel comes from Squarzoni’s challenge to skeptics in defending his climate change predictions. With this in mind, Squarzoni logically explains that by “examining polar ice core samples, which allows us to reconstruct the atmosphere of the distant past, confirms how sensitive the climate is to the slightest alteration” (Squarzoni 49). This is to say, using measurements and recorded climate/weather data from the past and quantifying the increases/decreases of meteorological variances, assist climate scientists in developing future models of predictable climate changes. Succinctly, by reconstructing the past climate scientists can deconstruct a predictable future. The essence of the story lays in Philippe Squarzoni’s hypothesis that future global warming and climate alterations will occur as humans distort the natural evolution of the earth by changing the composition of the atmosphere with manmade/unnatural industrial gases.

Philippe Squarzoni’s “Climate Changed” is a cli-fi novel that is not for the novice. If someone has never read a graphic novel or a cli-fi story, it is not recommend to start one’s introduction to this form of genre writing with this book: it is long and riddled with jargon specific climatological terminology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *