Friday, December 17, 2010

Climate Refugees
Colectif Argos/Introductions by Hubert Reeves and Jean Jouzel
MIT Press

Colectif Argos is a team of ten journalists, based in France--where this book was first published. There are essays in words and photos describing the effects of global heating on a community of Natives in Alaska, a village in Bangladesh, in Chad, the Maldives, on the North Sea, in China, in Polynesia and in the Himalayas, as well as on the Gulf Coast of the U.S. They are very different places in every part of the globe, all experiencing the changes that are just beginning. The UN estimates there will be some 150 million people dislocated by the Climate Crisis by 2050. This is a real and growing problem, and the authors call for leaders to prepare for a future of mass migrations.

This is a well-made book, with informative and evocative texts, illustrated by excellent photographs (though I'm not overly fond of this kind of processed color.) The photos could stand on their own in an exhibition. However, they don't by themselves communicate much about "climate refugees." They document the present way of life of the people they depict.

Readers who are curious about cultures around the world will likely find both text and photos absorbing. I'm not sure that in America at least, the book will function as quite the call to arms the authors intend. But such an excellent and detailed presentation will surely interest and inform discerning readers, and even inspire them to action.

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