Title: The Carbon Diaries 2015
Author: Saci Lloyd
ISBN: 9780823421909
Pages: 330 pages
Publisher/Date: Holiday House, c2008.

This 60% reduction is way over the top. We were supposed to get there by 2030, but after the Great Storm everything changed, and it all became more hectic. Even so, why is the U.K. going first? I know we were hit the hardest in the storm–that was one messed-up time; houses literally ripped out of the ground, thousands of people homeless over the whole winter, no gas for a month. I guess something really happened to people then. It was like everyone went: That’s enough. Stop now. Europe’s going to follow–I mean, they’ve got to in the end–but right now its like they’re happy for someone else to do it first. So looks like we’re the stupid guinea pig freaks, giving up everything while the rest sit back and watch. (3-4)

The year 2015 has just started, and with it carbon rationing, the process of limiting carbon emissions by alllocating an allowance to every resident in an effort to slow global warming. Sixteen year old Laura Brown is trying really hard to adapt to this new style of life, where the car sits idle in the garage, her use of electricity is heavily regulated, and even her purchases are dictated by how much carbon was used to produce and transport the item. Her band the dirty angels have to rotate where they practice so they don’t monopolize one family’s carbon allowance. But the rest of Laura’s family isn’t coping very well. Her older sister was supposed to go to the states for fashion design during her break year, her dad loses his job teaching Travel and Tourism, and his mom gets fed up with the family and joins a feminist group. When the weather wants to threaten their new way of life, will they all come together, or will it push them apart for good?

It’s hard to think of the things that occur in this book could actually occur. That’s what sticks though, is that we’ve seen some of these things happen already. We’ve seen rationing of material items during the World Wars, we’ve seen natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami, forest fires, mudslides, and now the volcano. So even while reading it you feel the need to say “This is so unlikely,” in the same breath you’re forced to admit that it is possible.

I got very fruastrated and angry towards Laura’s parents, who seemed fairly uninvolved regarding their two children even before the rationing started. Once the rationing started, they became even more self-absorbed. Her parents understandably suffer from the stress of the rationing, but at one point seem completely clueless of the fact that one of their daughter’s has not been home for days. I wonder if Lloyd is trying to emphasize the fact that hardships either seperate or bring together families and friends.

A glossary of terms, both “ecoterms” and those of the British language, are explained in the back of the book, which is much appreciated. It also includes references for metric system conversions and Internet links for readers who want to learn more about living green. Another aspect of the book that I like is that things are spelled out fairly well, with illustrations, maps, newspaper articles, and charts in order to add comprehension to what is happening in the story. Not every author includes those kinds of things.

Laura says at one point that she hates someone because “he’s got no hope and now I’m scared I haven’t got any, either. That I’m just acting out a part and I know there’s no future for any of us.” (242) It’s a scary thought, but for me it’s really a story about overcoming adversity, which Laura also realizes towards the end of the book. “I think I finally understand about pretending everything is normal. If we don’t we’ll go under.” (312) So regardless of your political or environmental views, I think there is something relatable for readers. That being said, the book does get very political, with different groups coming to light in response to the policies and multiple riots and marches taking place, which Laura seems to try to stay oblivious about as much as possible and argues her beliefs as opposed to one party’s beliefs. And yes, she does suffer from peer pressure, but seems fairly resistant, with one noticable exception.

I think Lloyd did an admirable job applying current day knowledge and projecting future fears. Whether it will happen or not, I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see, since 2015 really isn’t that far away.

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