Heat up kids’ interest in the weather with ’50 Climate Questions’

Every morning your parents check the weather report.

You might wonder why. After all, it’s not like anybody can change it or do anything about it. But knowing what it will be like outside today at noon, tonight when everybody gets home, tomorrow or over the weekend might make a difference in how you dress, what you do, even what you eat.

But the weather doesn’t just affect your plans. The world’s climate has affected nearly everything since Earth’s beginning, as you’ll see in the new book "50 Climate Questions" by Peter Christie, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird.

For a long time now, you’ve heard about global warming and climate change. You might know a little bit about the Earth’s atmosphere – but what you don’t know is that without climate change, you might not even be here!

When the Earth was very young, it was covered with a blanket of carbon dioxide, which kept things awfully warm. But along came bacteria and early plants, which converted the carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) to oxygen and cooled things down.

That didn’t last, of course: The weather wobbled a lot, from "big chills" to tropical temperatures. Samples drilled from Chinese rocks prove that when the dinosaurs lived, the atmosphere heated the planet so much that if you’d taken a dip in the ocean, it might have felt like a hot tub.

The dinos had to adapt or die when that happened. Some of them stayed in warm places like all other reptiles, while others escaped to the South Pole or Australia. Some grew bigger, while others changed in other ways. But 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs were "wiped out forever," which made way for mammals.

When that happened – watch out! Mammals, which had been tiny up til this time, began to grow to huge sizes: horses, elephants, rhinos – and us.

Climate caused forests to turn into grasslands, which made our ancestors start walking upright, which changed their diet and forced them to migrate to other continents. Civilizations were created and destroyed and history was changed by temperatures. And if you’re reading this review by lamplight or computer, you may be creating greenhouse gas!

Chances are, with global warming in the news for the past few years, your child has a few questions about the subject as a whole. Maybe there are things you’re wondering, too. For both of you, "50 Climate Questions" has answers.

By melting science and history together, Christie helps readers make sense of this important world issue and why climate change has actually been a good thing in the past. Christie also includes plenty of trivia, surprising facts, some experiments and a quiz or two to get young brains thinking, while illustrations by Kinnaird will keep them laughing.

Meant for kids 8 to 13, I think that a good number of adults will learn a thing or two from "50 Climate Questions." If you’re sweltering, freezing or watching the skies this summer, this is going to be a hot book for you.

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