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Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Make a Splash! A Kid's Guide to Protecting Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands by Cathryn Berger Kaye and Philippe Cousteau

Make a Splash! A Kid's Guide to Protecting Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands Cathryn Berger Kaye and Philippe Cousteau Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.

Make a Splash is an environmentalist primer about the world’s water for the grade-school (and junior-high) set.  It teaches young people about aquifers, wetlands, coral reefs, and the connectivity of the water that young people use and the water that travels out to the ocean, 

Water affects humans ostensibly in the water we use, but also indirectly in the foods we eat.  It also impacts animals in oceans and out, such as birds which eat plastics, thinking them food.  Make a Splash sounds a warning bell for youth who can sometimes effect changes that adults cannot.  The text shows examples of young people already making changes within their communities:  

  • Outlawing shark fins (Japan)
  • Using less energy
  • Composting
  • Using less water
  • Creating zero waste
  • Eating all food
  • Recycling plastics like water bottles

It’s exciting to see a book that encourages new environmentalists.  It even closes with ways to plan for environmental action.  Much of the information is useful and helpful.  But a few issues are problematic.  For instance, the book suggests that desalination of water--probably definite future necessity--will affect ocean animals.  There are many problems with this.  We might choose to keep the salt, or throw it back into the ocean,  It should not really matter (except locally) in the grand scheme, because the salt and water that came from the ocean will return. The changes should be minimal.  Another problem is the blanket of items such as straws.  True, if you don’t need it, why grab (or offer) it?  On the other hand, straws can be a health.   

The environmentalist book I’d like to see is one that encourages investigation before advocacy:  Before we ban something like forest fires, let’s ask

  1. What are the pros and cons?  Weigh the words of those you disagree with?
  2. What are the costs?  Immediate and future 
  3. What is the feasibility of implementing changes?
  4. Why these changes instead of some other?
  5. etc.

Since young people are the future, let’s make them smarter, not merely advocates but wise consumers of information.  In fact, even this review may be inaccurate.  Investigate!

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