Eco-nomics

Boiling Point
How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis--And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster

Ross Gelbspan





Gelbspan, a Pulitzer Prize—winning journalist, offers no less than a call to arms in this treatise on how global warming is a threat and how it can be avoided. Gelbspan expands the argument about global warming: not only is the current U.S. administration to blame, but journalists and activists are as well. Journalists, he says, are culpable because they are minimizing the story; activists, while well-meaning, are so busy trying to form alliances and make compromises that they lose sight of a problem that Gelbspan believes could ultimately compromise the planet. Gelbspan writes clearly, and he argues that Republican members of Congress have latched onto theories of the few scientists who don't believe that global warming is a major problem. He lays out three of the plans being discussed to attack the problem, as well as one of his own (which focuses on changing energy subsidies from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources, funding the transfer of renewable energy sources to developing countries and greatly tightening emission standards). But at times, he adopts an apocalyptic tone–the first sentence of his first chapter contains the words, "global climate change is threatening to spiral out of control"–and that may limit this work to true believers. opyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Denouncing the oil and coal industries as "criminals against humanity," Gelbspan justifies his use of that label by communicating his sincere belief that human civilization is in mortal peril from global warming. Yet he recognizes that the American public is not as alarmed as he is, so the first half of his work dissects the forces he alleges are keeping Americans in ignorant thrall. They are the fossil fuel lobby, the current Bush administration, and journalism. An ex-member of the Fourth... <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail/-/books/046502761X/reviews/104-8112206-9591942#046502761x5123>read more

Book Description
In Boiling Point, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ross Gelbspan argues that, unchecked, climate change will swamp every other issue facing us today. Indeed, what began as an initial response of many institutions-denial and delay-has now grown into a crime against humanity. Gelbspan's previous book, The Heat Is On, exposed the financing of climate-change skeptics by the oil and coal companies. In Boiling Point, he reveals exactly how the fossil fuel industry is directing the Bush administration's energy and climate policies -payback for helping Bush get elected. Even more surprisingly, Gelbspan points a finger at both the media and environmental activists for unwittingly worsening the crisis. Finally, he offers a concrete plan for averting a full-blown climate catastrophe.According to Gelbspan, a proper approach to climate change could solve many other problems in our social, political, and economic lives. It would dramatically reduce our reliance on oil, and with it our exposure to instability in the Middle East. It would create millions of jobs and raise living standards in poor countries whose populations are affected by climate-driven disease epidemics and whose borders are overrun by environmental refugees. It would also expand the global economy and lead to a far wealthier and more peaceful world. A passionate call-to-arms and a thoughtful roadmap for change, Boiling Point reveals what's at stake for our fragile planet

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It seems that ever since the Texas oil lobby moved into the White House, anyone who questions what they'e doing to planet earth -- the only one we have -- are fair game for ridicule. But like the infamous rats who are first to abandon sinking ships, they'll be the first ones to beg for their lives. My introductory rant has to do with the few who fling spitballs at serious writers like Ross Gelbspan. I'd call them mindless apes but that would be unfair to the intelligent primates who live in African and South American forests.

Release of "Boiling Point," comprehensively pulls together a lot of the science on climate change that has published during the past several years. It provides increased credence to scientific concerns about the climate change.

Gelbspan's position is, climate change is much more than "just another issue." Indeed, it goes far beyond "only" being an environmental issue. He makes the case and warns that it is an all-encompassing economic, energy, political and moral issue.

"We are living on an increasingly precarious margin of stability," he warns, describing how "we have set in motion massive systems of the planet that have kept it relatively hospitable for the last 10,000 years."

Gelbspan calls for a kind of Marshall Plan to stop what he hopes isn't too late to reverse the "suicidal" trends. He appears to emjoy the attacks that will come from the "skeptics" whom he (and many others) accuses of feeding at the trough of the big coal and oil interests.

Gelbspan sems to enjoys his critics dismissing his earlier sharing of a Pulitzer when he was an editor at the Boston Globe. Acknowledging those criticisms to be "quite hurtful," he admits to being "privately pleased." He says his coal and oil industry critics couldn't refute his reporting in "The Heat is On" and instead had to resort to character assassination by lying about his award.

In the preface to his new book Gelbspan reports that he had "conceived and edited" the Globe series on systematic job discrimination against African Americans, "helped select the reporters, directed the reporting, and edited the articles." The Globe's editor and publisher chose him to receive the Pulitzer on behalf of the paper, and included his photo and bio along with those of other team members under the headline "Pulitzer Prize Winners." He's posted that and other related information on his website. But the carbon crowd, as they dishonestly spread information on climate change, also lie about Gelbspan's Pulitzer.

In "Boiling Point," Gelbspan's indictments are launched in chapters with titles such as "Criminals Against Humanity," opening with a bizarre quote from Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Ok).

"Nothing has further alienated the United States from the rest of the world than the Bush administration's dismissal of global climate change," Gelbspan writes. The book was written and released in the aftermath of Bush's failed Iraq War.

"With the 2000 presidential election, however, the fossil fuel lobby won a victory beyond its wildest dreams," he continues. "What began as an industry campaign of deception and information was adopted as presidential strategy."

Gelbspan doesn't spare the American media a tongue lashing. He finds American news organizations missing-in-action (or inaction), and possibly complicit.

"The U.S. press has basically played the role of unwitting accomplice by consistently minimizing this [climate change] story, if not burying it from public view altogether," writes Gelbspan.

Calling it political reporting, not the science or environmental beat, providing a career path to being a top editor, he accuses the media of doing "a deplorable job in disseminating" decade-old scientific information of human impacts on climate "and all its implications." He says US newspaper coverage is shameful in comparison with responsible reporting on climate change in Western Europe.

Footnote to this review: I wish to add that in the July 2004, I attended the Third World Health Organization meeting on health effects of global warming. Under very high security, dozens of European cabinet officials )ministers of health, environemtn, and public safety) met in Budapest. Discussed were the effects of floods and other natural disasters associated with climate change. The Europeans are making life saving plans for their future generations while Americans are still quibbling about whether or not the climate is changing.

Can Gelbspans literary efforts help to turn the American suicidal madness around?

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