BOILING POINT by Ross Gelbspan


How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Have Fueled the Climate Crisis--and What We Can Do to Avert Disaster
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Revisiting the consensus on global warming (The Heat Is On, 1997), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Gelbspan finds the US strangely at odds with a vast majority of both scientists and governments.

While other major industrial powers are pondering what to do about climate change, only America seems unsure that there is a crisis in the offing, notes the author, who goes on to explain in valuable detail precisely how Big Energy, as personified by Exxon/Mobile and Peabody Coal, has, with the encouragement and cooperation of the Bush administration, effectively back-burnered the threat. Fingering by name some scientific “skeptics” whom he charges regularly take funding from the greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) source producers, Gelbspan suggests readers find out what they have published, if anything, in peer-reviewed journals. The implication is that they are not only sell-outs, but laughingstocks in the eyes of mainstream science. Even other international energy giants, such as Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum, Gelbspan offers, have acknowledged that human factors contribute to global warming and its effects are already with us. These first-glimpse events seem more disturbing in their range and variety than even environmentalists who invoked the falling sky a decade ago could guess. Papuan and Polynesian populations, for instance, are already being relocated by thousands from Pacific islands that simply will not be viable as sea levels rise, and researchers tie general warming not just to death-dealing heat waves (Europe 2003), but to droughts, crop failures, tornadoes, and other violent weather events. There are some beneficiaries: the lowly mosquito has a substantial increase in temperate habitat, Gelbspan avers, along with more rapid maturation (added breeding cycles) of its parasites, which already deliver malaria and viruses like West Nile to areas where those scourges were previously unknown.

Predictably scary and shocking, but still rises to the level of reference.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-465-02761-X
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2004