The Story of More (Adapted for Young Adults) (Delacorte Press)
By Hope Jahren
If you are an older Millennial like myself, you must come to terms with the idea that this planet is not ours. A solid argument can be made that the older generations clung to their positions of power for too long, resulting in a complete imbalance. Octogenarians run the American government, and activism is quickly becoming the realm of the young people. As a teacher, you must realize your crucial role in this dynamic. Despite not having the immediate power to upend the broken society crushing us, our students, their parents, etc., you must provide the youth with knowledge. You are arming them to face the devastation of climate collapse on this world in the hopes that, sometime after you are long gone, they create that better world of which we dream.
Hope Jahren is an American geochemist and geologist at the University of Oslo in Norway. Her best-selling book The Story of More has been adapted for younger readers starting around the age of 12. Within this book, she provides a beautifully constructed presentation of the importance of natural resources to the survival of humanity, the history of how we have been able to generate more food for the growing population, and how this growth has damaged the planet. The big question looming over all of this is, what can we do about it? Jahren doesn’t posit to have a magic solution but states that we have to develop a complete comprehension of the problem before we adopt a solution. She admits the path to getting there will be difficulties and suffering because we have delayed action for so long. Still, it is possible to reverse what is happening.
I was delighted that Jahren does not give into overpopulation myths. She agrees that humanity has boomed in numbers over the last few decades but that the problem isn’t that there are insufficient resources. Instead, the resources have been hoarded by a few wealthy countries; the United States is one of them, to ensure their people are provided for first. This hoarding is done at the cost of leaving many societies in the global south (South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia) with a deficit. Jahren clearly shows the intersectionality of climate science with a host of other pressing issues, from racism, sexism, poverty, and many other areas. Her emphasis throughout the text is that humanity must overcome these petty disputes if it hopes to see a future. For any upper elementary and middle school classroom, I consider this a must-have in the library. Frankly, entire science units should be centered around this and other similar books.