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