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Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Have Fueled a Climate Crisis -- And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster Hardcover – July 20, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © 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 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 © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (July 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046502761X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465027613
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,658,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
You may have noticed climate changes in your cubby hole area. They should have warned you through 'normal channels' but they seemed to have all been wiped out. They used to say the crisis of the environment was only a matter of time, now the time has come and this book should be essential reading for anyone glued to standard sources of (dis)information. You know the time has come when Bush starts hemming and hawing on this issue. It's not a prearranged signal, but it's alarmingly indicative. In another decade they may change their story. Meanwhile, all the important measures are starting to spike and major lifestyle changes are on the table.

Very important reading.
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Format: Hardcover
When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, she was widely attacked for advocating the elimination of DDT. But Carson had done her homework well. Her book was meticulously documented and it withstood the inevitable assaults from those who believed that behind her opposition to DDT lay some sort of covert left-wing agenda.

I predict that Ross Gelbspan too will survive such assaults. Like Carson, he is a journalist who writes with passion but also with full documentation.

Even today, there are scientists who deny that DDT poses environmental problems. The same will likely be true of global warming: there will always be deniers. But reviewers like "Chaxford" mischaracterize the nature of the debate within the scientific community. For example, the Harvard-Smithsonian study, which he cites as an example of mainstream science undermining the human-driven global warming hypothesis, does nothing of the sort. That study merely documents that non-human global warming has occurred before -- hardly a surprising fact! (...)Or Google on the title: "Reconstructing Climatic and Environmental Changes of the Past 1000 Years: A Reappraisal."

Those interested in the true nature of the debate should also read another source mentioned by "Claxford," NASA's James Hansen (note: not Hanson), rather than accepting at face value Claxford's characterization of Hansen. Hansen does suggest a somewhat different approach than Gelbspan -- and yes, he has been criticized by "political types." But Hansen is hardly in the camp of the deniers. (...)
Or Google on the title of the article: "Can We Defuse the Global Warming Time Bomb?
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Format: Hardcover
The world has known about global warming for years, but it's time to wake up and do something about it. This well-written, revealing book should add much to the effort. We cannot afford the rabid political diatribe of global warming naysayers that don't have any facts to stand on. There are no more legitimate papers refuting global warming then there are good papers in support of Creationism. The world must awaken.
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Format: Hardcover
Take a good look around you. The signs are numerous and unmistakable. The Arctic glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. Entire island nations in the South Pacific are being permanently evacuated and tropical diseases are spreading as birds and insects migrate farther and farther north. Hardly a week goes by without another bizaare weather event dominating the headlines. It is against this backdrop that Ross Gelbspan brings us "Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Have Fueled a Climate Crisis--And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster". This is the author's clarion call for the peoples of the world to take their heads out of the sand, set aside their differences and work together to solve a problem that threatens the world as we know it.

According to Gelbspan, an overwhelming majority of scientists around the world agree that the world must reduce carbon emissions by some 70%! And we have less than two decades to get the job done. Obviously, there are major obstacles everywhere, not the least of which is the Bush administration who is clearly in the hip pocket of the oil and coal industry. In fact, less than two months after his inauguration, the President broke a campaign promise and stated that he would no longer seek to regulate power plant emissions. And throughout the remainder of his first term the President fought any kind of regulation on the energy industry tooth and nail. The author quotes longtime Bush supporter Robert Luft, President of Entergy Corp who flatly states "Still, I cannot express my frustration with his performance in this area...Make no mistake.
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Format: Hardcover
"Boiling Point" is well-worth reading. It will help you understand how the American oil and coal industries have consistently tried (and succeeded) to pull the wool over the eyes of Americans. Unlike the reviewers who lamely attack the book, open-minded readers will comprehend and appreciate the author's salient points, none of which are addressed by his attackers:

1. Why would the American oil and coal industries overwhelmingly finance the minority of climatologists who hold the "contrarian" view that mankind's contribution to global warming is negligible? If they are truly concerned about the objectivity of their science, why don't they equally finance those climatologists who represent the majority view? Why aren't Americans taking the oil and coal industries to task for their socially irresponsible lack of objectivity.

2. Yes, read the scientific literature, as "Boiling Point"s handful of critics say. That is exactly what the author recommends! Reasonable people will probably reach the same conclusion that the author has: If the majority of climatologists believe that manmade emissions are contributing significantly to global warming, then why would America's political leaders bury their collective heads in the sand and pray that the contrarians are right and the majority wrong? Wouldn't prudence suggest that we should play it safe and do what we can to reduce potentially harmful manmade emissions?

There are thirty pages of notes at the end of the book for anyone interested in the scientific literature that underpins the author's points. Don't fall into the mindless, do-nothing trap of the nay-sayers, and use as an excuse "Well, there is always scientific controversy, and the majority is not always right." That is the refuge of buffoons. We cannot afford to gamble that perhaps the minority view is correct.
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