As The World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Stay In Denial is a graphic novel that will no doubt startle readers as to the ecocide taking place on this planet. Complete with a slew of interesting characters like a one-eyed bunny, robot machines from space, various woodland animals, and two environmentally-conscious little girls, this novel is both funny and extremely shocking in terms of what’s going on in the world.

In part a satire of the book 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save The Earth, the little girls argue with each other concerning the book’s list. Even if everyone in the world did everything on that list, the dark-haired girl argues, it is not enough. Instead, she says, it gives people “the illusion that the problems we face are easily solvable.” It is not so simple. While lifestyle changes like becoming a vegetarian, basing your garden “on the principles of permaculture” and so on are great, people should not delude themselves as to “which diswasher’s soap” they use can “stop the system from destroying the planet.” The real problems are corporations. ExxonMobil alone “has released fifty percent of all carbon emissions put out by this culture.”

While the little girls argue about how evil corporations are, the heads of such corporations are selling the planet to robot aliens in exchange for gold. People who actually oppose the destruction of the planet for profit are deemed terrorists. A particularly funny bit in the novel is when a corporate bigwig asks his subordinate whether or not the “terrorists” have been arrested – all while reading his Bible.

Another funny yet horrifying episode involves the President and First Lady discussing their new-found source of renewable energy, the very letters and petitions people sent to the White House protesting environmental destruction. The two laugh as the President talks about throwing the letters in the fire.

The little girls and their animal friends might win the fight over the planet-eating aliens, but they also acknowledge they’ve only eliminated one threat to the planet and now must go after greedy corporations. The book’s last words are very inspiring, as one corporate bigwig says to another, “What are we going to do if the wild terrorists don’t let us consume the planet? How will we maintain our lifestyles?” “We won’t,” replies the other.

Review by Kent Page McGroarty

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As the World Burns
Derrick Jensen & Stephanie McMillan
Seven Stories Press