Pole to Pole

“Unaware of last night’s events, the next day our friends resume their journey. Once again, the powerful ocean currents drag them ever southwards…”

In Alan Hesse‘s comic book, Pole to Pole, Captain Polo leaves his disrupted Arctic home, seeking better hunting grounds. Unbeknown to him, he has onboard a mysterious stowaway with his own agenda.

Pole to Pole


Alan Hesse is an author-illustrator, educator and conservation biologist inspired by nature’s majesty and fragility and the need to protect it and who believes that education should be fun.

Pole to Pole is Book 4 in my series of graphic novels about climate change, but it can be read as a stand-alone book as well. In Pole to Pole, Captain Polo the climate change bear (main character) once again leaves his ecologically and climatically disrupted Arctic home in search of better hunting grounds. Unbeknown to him, he has on board his trusty little sailing boat a mysterious stowaway with his own agenda, and before he knows it Captain Polo finds himself on another rollicking adventure in which he unwillingly travels far to the south, visiting different locations and meeting all sorts of colourful characters.

Through each encounter, Captain Polo sheds light on different, sometimes little-known aspects of climate change effects and also solutions. Thus we learn about the effects of permafrost melt in Siberia, how warming temperatures are undermining the Sámi reindeer people and the Christmas tourist industry in Finland, and what the mysterious scientists locked into Iceland’s Hellisheidi Carbon Fixing Plant are all about. Captain Polo has an opportunity to explain the difference between climate and weather to a refreshingly open-minded climate denier he meets in Ireland, and he later gets interviewed by a climate-conscious reporter on Senegalese national television.

Polo’s final encounter is with multi-billionaire oilman and arch-villain Tex Greedyman, a meeting that quickly turns sour as our hero shares his views on fossil fuels and renewable energy in his characteristically blunt manner, a conversation that lands him trussed up in the hold of Greedyman’s luxury yacht, destined to be sold to a circus at their next port of call…

The idea behind all of my Captain Polo books is to deliver factual, up to date key information on climate change effects and solutions around the world in a novel, engaging format that draws upon the elements of fiction and storytelling to facilitate understanding as well as provide pure entertainment. The result is my 4-book series of Captain Polo’s adventures, non-fiction graphic novels targeting 9-12-year-old kids but actually also enjoyable and informative for adults. I decided to write graphic novels about this topic when I realized, about four years ago, that I actually knew very little about climate change. The news at the time was largely confusing, and certainly overwhelming. I decided that the best way for me to gain a clear understanding of different aspects of climate change, and crucially also help others to do likewise — especially children — was to create a graphic novel about it.

Climate change has become a multi-faceted topic that touches upon all sectors of society, industry and even culture. I dedicate my series of graphic novels to gradually explore these aspects, overturning one rock at a time to uncover the basic facts, in the hope of helping my readers increase their environmental and climate awareness, understanding of key terms and concepts, and above all feel a little more empowered on how to deal with it all. As such all the Captain Polo books hold positive messages, actionable, concrete tips on how we can all make a difference to protect and restore our natural environment.

Pole to Pole will be available in print and ebook. It will also be available in black and white, as a paperback colouring book. This is an experiment and will have a separate listing (which I haven’t set up yet); I’ve never done anything like that before and I’ve never seen a colouring comic book, but given the detailed images and the textual / non-fiction content (the same as in the regular book) I am betting that colouring in this comic book may well have as much educational impact as reading it, if not more!


Pole to Pole is available now on preorder and will be released on February 27th, International Polar Bear Day. 

Carbon Choices

“Even where I live in Scotland, I am aware of the changing climate around me.”

In Carbon Choices, Neil Kitching moves beyond our frustration with the lack of action to tackle climate change and nature loss over the past 30 years to set out the practical ways that governments, businesses and individuals can change now.

“Coming from Scotland, host of the global 2021 climate conference, Carbon Choices tells the most remarkable story on planet Earth. How one group of sociable animals came to emit 40 billion tonnes (40,000,000,000) of an invisible gas each year, changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and the oceans, and steadily destroying the environment and life support systems that we depend on. We have unwittingly driven the world into a climate and wildlife crisis by the endless extraction of raw materials and our excessive consumption – primarily by wealthier people and countries.”

Neil KitchingNeil Kitching is a geographer and energy specialist who has witnessed climate change’s creeping effects and whose book Carbon Choices addresses common-sense solutions to our climate and nature crises.

I wrote Carbon Choices from a frustration that I had known about the devastating impact of climate change for 30 years but failed to see sufficient action by politicians and others to tackle it. So many people were not taught about climate change at school, nor about the loss of biodiversity. In my own small way, I hope to change attitudes and bring about the changes that are required.

Even where I live in Scotland, I am aware of the changing climate around me. There is less snow, and when it does fall it doesn’t lie for long. There is more winter rainfall and more torrential rain in the summer months. I witnessed the big damaging flood in Perth in 1993. There are also more landslips blocking railway lines and roads. In the UK this is all an inconvenience; in developing countries, particularly those that are already semi-arid, these changes can be catastrophic for people and wildlife.

Originally I thought I would write a book when I retire. But it gradually dawned on me that this might be too late. The announcement of the global climate conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow in November 2021 spurred me into action and I wrote Carbon Choices in six months whilst holding down a full-time job. The words literally poured out of my head.

This popular science book will fill any gaps in your understanding of climate change and nature loss. It lays out the solutions, including a green action plan for government, businesses and individuals. It will motivate you to change your behaviour and maybe inspire you to campaign to change business activity and government policy.


Carbon Choices is available to buy on Amazon, or you can order a signed copy from the authorThere is further information at the Carbon Choices site. 

You can follow Neil on Twitter @carbonchoicesuk

The Wizard of O2

“Now you must be careful. The Wicked Weather of the West is a cunning shapeshifter.”

Quentin D. Young‘s comic-book, The Wizard of O2 re-imagines the classic tale to bring us back to the Land of Oz for a 21st-century adventure in science and magic, creating space for humor and hope in the face of climate catastrophe.


Scarecrow: “Now you must be careful. The Wicked Weather of the West is a cunning shapeshifter. For me, she came in the form of a drought. Dried out the crops and put me out of a job!”

Lion: “For me, she was a fiery heatwave that killed the little animals. All the yummy ones too. Now I’m a starving performer, and Scarecrow uses the money to buy cat food!”

Dolores: “What about Tin Man? Where’s he?”

Quentin Young is a writer, climate communicator and emerging comic creator working creatively as a storyteller with the aim of reaching mainstream audiences on the issue of climate change.

What if Dorothy’s twister was a wormhole, and the Land of Oz was another planet? What would ‘Planet Oz’ be like today? And why on earth is it running out of oxygen?

These are some of the what-if questions I worked with when I wrote The Wizard of O2, a re-imagining of the classic tale that brings kids and grown-ups back to the Land of Oz for a 21st-century adventure in science and magic.

As with any retelling, I needed a reason to revisit the Land of Oz (other than my own fandom since discovering Judy Garland’s 1939 movie as a kid): Why tell the tale again, and why do it now? L. Frank Baum’s original novel was published back in 1900 and, more than a century later, the book has entered the public domain. The world has also changed a great deal. I realized the time was right to not only revisit the material but to do it through an environmental lens that would make the story even more pertinent in our current, climate-changed times.

Because I come from a screenwriting background, the project began as a screenplay for an animated short film, which I wrote ‘on spec’ to later pitch to film studios and production companies. I envisioned a charming animation with cute and colorful artwork worthy of a Pixar movie, and the climate narrative behind it would function by, first, connecting with audiences through an affectionate parody of Baum’s much-loved work. If the aim of the project is to get mainstream audiences thinking about something as depressing and anxiety-inducing as global warming, I wanted to make it easy for them to go there. I wanted to engage them on the issue by making it familiar, entertaining and, yes, ‘fun’.

On discovering the prohibitive cost of making an animation and the scarcity of producers willing to back an animated short, I opted to adapt my Oz satire into a comic book first. A comic was something I could manage myself while remaining in the pop-cultural category of mediums, which also includes television shows and video games. This was a parameter I had set for the project because, given the climate cause, I wanted the story to have ‘reach’. The visual medium of comics would also convey a brand of charm and whimsy that I thought was crucial to this project.

As many have said, climate stories don’t all need to be apocalyptic dystopias filled with doom and gloom. There’s a place for dark and gritty perspectives and, indeed, there are many climate storytellers producing valuable work in this space. But there’s also a place for whimsy, humor and hope, even in the face of climate catastrophe. Taking the lighter approach can actually help mainstream audiences, which includes both children and adults, to connect with an otherwise depressing subject. So, with the Oz story as my vehicle, I embraced comedy and eccentricity as a route into the hearts and minds of my readers.

My hope for The Wizard of O2 is that it reaches many people as a form of popular entertainment and, thereby, brings the climate cause to a new and wider audience. The comic is now published under my imprint, Truth/Dare Media: We’re a publishing startup that focuses on telling important stories through comics, audiobooks and other popular mediums. And our mission is simple: To help save the world through pop culture. If you enjoy our book and agree that it contributes toward this cause, please help us spread the word!


The Wizard of O2 is a single-issue comic book of 32 color pages. It is written and lettered by Quentin D. Young, an emerging comic creator and a represented script writer whose screenplays have been accepted for submission by leading Hollywood companies including Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Studios (formerly Fox), and Participant Media. The artwork is by Jean Lins, a comic book artist whose previous works include Dandara and Tales of Griot: The Mirror of Truth.

The Wizard of O2 is published as an indie comic by Truth/Dare Media (January 2021). It is currently available as a digital comic and can be purchased directly from the publisher, or through major online bookstores including Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo and Google Play. It has also been released on Comixology, an Amazon platform dedicated to digital comics and the world’s largest comic readership. The price is $2.99 or £2.49, though this may vary slightly between outlets.

Fifty Words for Snow

“The snow lay in waist-high drifts, and kept falling. I’d gone to Iceland to write about snow, but I found that snow had other ideas…”

Nancy Campbell‘s new book, Fifty Words for Snow, reflects on snow’s role in cultures around the world and the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity in a rapidly changing world.


Yuki-onna – snow woman (Japanese: 雪女)

Taoist philosophy suggests that when there’s an abundance of any natural matter, a life will come forth from it: the river will create its own fish when the water is deep enough and the forest will produce birds when the trees are dense enough. And so it follows that that a woman may be generated in the heart of a snowdrift.

Nancy Campbell is a writer and book artist interested in polar regions and water conservation, winning the Royal Geographical Society’s 2020 Ness Award for her research with Arctic and Scandinavian museums.

A few winters ago I rented a former Salvation Army meeting house in the north of Iceland for a few months. Since the snows of Siglufjörður don’t usually melt until April, I soon learned how the inhabitants of this small fishing town distinguish themselves from their neighbours in Ólafsfjörður, another small fishing town beyond the mountains. Folk in Ólafsfjörður do not clear the snow from the paths leading to their homes. In Siglufjörður the sweeping of snow is a social duty. I lived alone, and it was some distance from my front door to the road; the snow lay in waist-high drifts, and kept falling. I’d gone to Iceland to write about snow, but I found that snow had other ideas — it wanted me to do some physical labour. In his poem ‘Digging’, Seamus Heaney describes how his trade differs from that of his ancestors: ‘I’ve no spade to follow men like them,’ he writes, using instead a ‘squat pen’. Now I had to put down my pen and borrow a shovel from my elderly neighbour Kristján. Then, of course, I cleared his path too.

Fifty Words for Snow is a journey to discover snow in cultures around the world through different languages. The climate is a prism through which to view the human world — just as language can be. Inevitably, a book about climate also looks forward, considering what we miss, as every winter many countries see fewer snowflakes, and some years now, none at all. Just as the ecosystem is changing, so are the languages that describe it and the way they are understood. When I began to learn Greenlandic in 2010 I discovered the fallacy of the many ‘Eskimo words for snow’, a popular concept that was dismissed by linguists in the 1980s. More pertinently, that same year Greenlandic was added to the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. While many of the languages in this book, such as Spanish and Urdu, can be heard spoken around the globe, others, such as the Inupiaq dialect of Wales, Alaska, are remembered mainly by elders in relatively small communities.

I started to write this book in September 2019 amid debates about Brexit and the climate crisis, while attending Fridays for Future marches in Germany. I finished it six months later, a week before gathering with other masked and silent Black Lives Matter protestors in the UK. The process of tracing a single theme across many languages new to me seemed a powerful way to overcome the borders that were going up around the world. Ironically, one of the first entries I researched concerned the photograph of boys in a snowball fight taken by Robert Capa in war-torn Hankou (modern-day Wuhan) in 1938. Within weeks, the location had become infamous for the outbreak of COVID-19. Even under lockdown in a pandemic, it was still possible to voyage around the world through dictionaries.

A snow crystal is part of the endless cycle of the water molecule: from its six-cornered solid state it becomes liquid and then gas, and thus a snowflake that falls on the glaciers of the Rwenzori peaks in Africa might melt and evaporate and later freeze again and fall in the apple orchards of Kashmir, and melt again and fall fifty times and more. Just so, a single unit of meaning — one word for snow — offers an approach to new places, a clear path of understanding to travel forwards along.


Fifty Words for Snow by Nancy Campbell is published by Elliott & Thompson (November 2020), richly illustrated with William Bentley’s early photographs of snow crystals. It is available from Hive or from your favourite independent bookshop

Follow @nancycampbelle on Twitter or Instagram.

Haumea Online 7-week Essential Ecoliteracy for Creatives & Art Professionals

“This is a comprehensive introductory course, as ecoliteracy is a big topic. It means becoming familiar with ecological philosophy, ethics, law, psychology, science and economics that an ecological worldview advances and I share examples of creatives pioneering this path.”

Cathy Fitzgerald‘s online learning offers a means to rapidly bring ecological literacy to the creative sector.


“Just as in her own art, where she is growing a forest, in her teaching she draws together the disparate roots, branches, leaves, seeds and flowers, leaving a healthy forest to flourish for itself. I am very grateful. ”
Shane Finan — a visual artist in Wicklow, Ireland — took part in Cathy Fitzgerald’s Haumea Online Essential Ecoliteracy course for Creatives and Art Professionals in 2020.

Cathy Fitzgerald is an artist and researcher exploring ecosocial wellbeing by bringing art and non-art practices together in creative practice and offering Ecoliteracy learning for the arts.

My background in research science, art professional development and doctoral-level knowledge of ecological art practice means for several decades I have been keenly aware of the vast cultural dilemma we face. In 2016, when submitting my Creative Practice-led doctoral thesis —The Ecological Turn: Living Well with Forests… — I realised that economically challenged art education institutes would have little ability to pivot towards training their staff, reorientating their curricula to encompass ecoliteracy. Having an MA in new media, and experience of fostering online professional development for creative communities, I briefly speculated that online learning might offer a means to rapidly bring this knowledge to the creative sector.

This idea never left me. In 2019, with support from the Irish Carlow Local Enterprise Office and Carlow Arts office, I was able to get some fantastic international mentoring on best practice in online course development and delivery, and online business strategy. The only thing was, I had never taught before!

Nevertheless, with my mentors’ encouragement, I began by surveying established creative practitioners for their needs in this area and this formed the topic areas that I developed into seven weekly modules. This is a comprehensive introductory course, as ecoliteracy is a big topic. It means becoming familiar with ecological philosophy, ethics, law, psychology, science and economics that an ecological worldview advances and I share examples of creatives’ work who are pioneering this path.

Survey responses from the creative sector when I researched the course, also indicated that many in the sector wanted psychosocial supports to address the overwhelm that awareness of the ecological emergency brings. From my experience, I knew this is crucial to safeguard against depression and burnout.

By some odd coincidence, after trialling the modules in a live workshop, I found myself launching my pilot in early 2020 just as Ireland’s first pandemic lockdown began. Somehow, the Haumea Online Ecoliteracy course and our weekly live zoom meetings thrived. Also, I am very grateful that my friend, mentor and educator in California, ecological philosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis, co-hosts the weekly meetings with me and shares his deep knowledge of the world’s wisdom traditions and recent research of psychosocial supports.

During 2020, we have hosted five courses, and from the start, we have welcomed participants from Ireland, the UK, the US, Europe, Scandinavia and China.

For 2021, we are excited to be offering the Haumea Online 7-week Essential Ecoliteracy for Creatives and Art Professionals again — 5th January to 23rd February — whilst trying to consolidate and grow our ecoliteracy offerings further (no easy thing in this economic climate). As we are committed to a supportive online learning experience, our class size is a maximum of 20 participants. We are looking to build a larger audience around the course material, perhaps through a possible podcast series, and members network, friends of Haumea supporters scheme, and we are open to exploring collaboration with other education providers.

Best of all, sharing my knowledge has brought me joy in a challenging year, and increased my motivation for my ongoing ecosocial art practice and research. From the solitary years of doing a PhD in a rural area, I now have the coolest new friends from across the world who share a vision that creatives have a vital role to inspire a better world.


Haumea Online 7-week Essential Ecoliteracy

You can find out more about Cathy Fitzgerald’s Haumea Online Ecoliteracy course and advisory ecoliteracy policy consultancy at Haumea. See what others are saying about the course here.

You can also download Cathy’s thesis The Ecological Turn: Living Well with Forests… (National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland, 2018), and explore the workk of ecophilosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis at Wisdom Love and Beauty.

Skyseed – Hacking the Earth might be the last thing we ever do…

“For the first time in the history of the world, it was literally raining carbon…”

In his thriller Skyseed, writer and scientist Bill McGuire explores what might happen if we start geoengineering our climate to ‘fix’ global heating, and everything goes pear-shaped. A cautionary tale from a researcher steeped in the natural history of disasters.


Jane Haliwell put her head in her hands. To tell the truth, she was still in shock. All the samples she had taken from inside and around the lab contained the enigmatic spheres in huge numbers. She had only had a brief time to think about the implications, but she was pretty sure already what was going on.

For the first time in the history of the world, it was literally raining carbon. Long before it stopped, the guilty would pay, but so would the innocent…

Bill McGuire is a researcher in the science of global heating and climate breakdown, and a writer of non-fiction on natural hazards and climate change and of speculative and climate-related fiction, who values his contribution to climate activism above everything else.

We all know that slashing greenhouse gas emissions is the key to side-stepping catastrophic global heating. Under the radar, however, others are promoting a very different way of tackling the climate crisis. So-called geoengineering is defined by the Royal Society as: ‘the deliberate intervention in the climate system to counteract man-made global warming,’ and it is attracting increasing support and funding. If messing with the climate some more, to sort out the mess we have already made, sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Geoengineering distracts from the main business of cutting carbon emissions as the science demands, threatens further damage to the environment and tramples over human and legal rights. Far more scarily, the cure might even end up being deadlier than the illness.

Perhaps the riskiest of all geoengineering schemes is a plan to mimic a volcanic eruption by pumping tens of millions of tonnes of sulphur into the stratosphere. Sulphur gases are especially good at reflecting incoming solar radiation back into space, which is why a period of global cooling is common after a major volcanic blast. Past episodes of volcanic cooling, however, are also associated with major changes in weather patterns and rainfall, the failure of harvests and widespread famine, so copycat cooling is really not a good idea. In my new novel, Skyseed, a massive volcanic eruption in Bolivia – true to form, but in an unexpected manner – provides the catalyst that transforms an illicit bid to ‘fix’ global heating into a fight for the survival of the human race.

For someone steeped in the natural history of disasters (I did after all write A Guide to the End of the World: Everything you Never Wanted to Know), the idea of following the geoengineering route in our increasingly desperate quest to come to grips with the climate crisis, has always fascinated, which is really why I wrote Skyseed. I am very much of the mind that stories, rather than lists of hard facts, are often far better at getting complex ideas across, which explains why Skyseed is a novel, rather than a technical analysis of geoengineering and the associated risks. Set in the near future, the book is — first and foremost — a thriller, but a thriller with a message. Without giving too much away, it is a cautionary tale that flags a warning to the reader of what might happen if we embark upon further climate tinkering and everything goes pear-shaped. I have tried not to be preachy, and my principal intention has always been to pen a damn good yarn. Do please read it and let me know if I have succeeded.


Skyseed by Bill McGuire is published by The Book Guild Publishing (September 2020) and can be bought direct from them, from Hive or from your favourite independent bookshop. 

Fellow ClimateCultures member and writer Rob La Frenais discusses Skyseed and geoengineering with Bill on our blog: see Hacking the Earth.

And you can hear Bill discuss the novel and the issues around geoengineering in this short Shaping the Future podcast from the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series (10/10/20).