Cover image for Boiling point : how politicians, big oil and coal, journalists and activists are fueling the climate crisis--and what we can do to avert disaster
Boiling point : how politicians, big oil and coal, journalists and activists are fueling the climate crisis--and what we can do to avert disaster
Gelbspan, Ross.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
xvii, 254 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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QC981.8.G56 G44 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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QC981.8.G56 G44 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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If left unchecked, climate change will ultimately 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. In Boiling Point , Ross Gelbspan reveals exactly how the fossil fuel industry is directing the Bush administration's energy and climate policies. 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.

Author Notes

Ross Gelbspan was a longtime reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, where he shared a Pulitzer Prize for a series he conceived and edited. He covered the U.N. Conference on the Environment in Stockholm in 1972, and addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos in 1998

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

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 Estate, Gelbspan denounces it for inadequate coverage of global warming, and when covering it, for giving equal weight to the arguments of skeptical scientists. In the second half, after criticizing local environmental gestures and proposed free-market solutions as insufficient, Gelbspan presents his proposals for separating civilization from its hydrocarbon appetite. Key to the program is the establishment of an international organization to fund green technologies, financed by a global tax on international currency transactions. If ExxonMobil is your enemy, Gelbspan is your champion. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Agent, Ike Williams. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Gelbspan is an articulate, informed writer who presents compelling, eloquent arguments for action to reduce emission of radiatively active greenhouse gases. The book is generally accurate, if a little selective, in its depictions of scientific evidence for evolution of Earth's climate and, specifically, anthropogenic forcing of climate. It contains no figures and could benefit from a more detailed and comprehensive bibliography, but it is very accessible and has a detailed index. The topic and the rapidly evolving political context mean that the book may date relatively quickly. For example, in contrast to information in the book, Russia recently committed to ratifying the Kyoto protocol. The most positive aspect of this book and something that sets it aside from the multitude of others concerning anthropogenic forcing of climate and the political context for the dialogue, is the chapter on potential mitigation measures (e.g., carbon trading, investment in alternative technologies). However, the specifics of these measures are omitted and the author largely ignores existing efforts in these areas. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates; two-year technical program students. S. C. Pryor Indiana University

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Editionp. ix
Prefacep. xvii
Acknowledgmentsp. xxiii
1 Not Just Another Issuep. 1
Snapshots of the Warming No. 1p. 19
2 The Sum of All Cluesp. 23
Snapshots of the Warming No. 2p. 33
3 Criminals Against Humanityp. 37
Snapshots of the Warming No. 3p. 63
4 Bad Pressp. 67
Snapshots of the Warming No. 4p. 87
5 Three Fronts of the Climate Warp. 93
Snapshots of the Warming No. 5p. 119
6 Compromised Activistsp. 127
Snapshots of the Warming No. 6p. 147
7 Thinking Big: Three Beginningsp. 153
Snapshots of the Warming No. 7p. 171
8 Rx for a Planetary Feverp. 175
Notesp. 207