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The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth Hardcover – June 8, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Had they been told in 1970 that 40 years later the U.S. still would not have a cohesive climate policy, the observers of the first Earth Day would have recoiled in disbelief. Yet while administration after administration has either tried and failed to enact legislation, or worse yet, hasn't seen the need for such regulation in the first place, the world has spun inexorably closer to environmental disaster. Of course, the denialosphere sees it differently, and therein lies the crux of Pooley's engrossing behind-the-scenes exposé of the multifactioned confrontation over climate. With hot air spewing from special interest groups like so much smog over Los Angeles, and a contentious political firestorm burning like the once toxic Cuyahoga River, blistering hypocrisy and blustering hyperbole pit dedicated enviros against dithering politicians to the point of mind-numbing inertia. As he parses the ecology-versus-economy debate waged in Capitol Hill back rooms and Wall Street boardrooms, Pooley peppers his meticulously researched insider account with aha! moments of revelation and populates it with a Machiavellian cast of characters. Accomplishing the impossible, Pooley makes policymaking fascinating, if frustrating. --Carol Haggas

About the Author

Eric Pooley is a well-known expert on climate politics. A contributor to Time, Slate, and other magazines, he has served as managing editor of Fortune, editor of Time Europe, and national editor and chief political correspondent of Time. He has written Time cover profiles of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, George W. Bush, Kenneth Starr, Rudolph Giuliani, and Rupert Murdoch, among many others. In 1996, as Time's White House correspondent, his coverage of the Clinton re-election campaign received the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency. He co-edited Time's National Magazine Award-winning special issue on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and he has also been a finalist for National Magazine Awards as both an editor and writer. In 2008 he was a Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he studied press coverage of the climate crisis, and he has appeared as an expert commentator on Nightline, Charlie Rose, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, PBS Frontline, Anderson Cooper 360, All Things Considered, and many other programs.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140132326X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401323264
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whether you're new to environmental policy, or old hat, Climate War provides an excellent history of the political struggles over climate change from the 60s and 70s through today. Whereas many authors feel the need to re-explain and re-interpret the science behind climate change, Eric Pooley presumes the reader's familiarity, and cuts directly to the narrative - describing climate's rocky road as a wedge issue and political eight ball as public opinion has been manipulated over the decades.

The only thing that has become more certain over time is the science behind climate change. Pooley's writing offers a nuanced and multifaceted read on the policy and public relations strategy. This writing will only become more important now, as the political branches, polarized news media, corporations, and general public gear up for another ridiculously theatrical fight over climate policy. Perhaps most useful is Pooley's historiography on the practice from environmental economics known as Cap and Trade. Pooley shows how Cap and Trade has been used in the past to resolve battles over acid rain, and lets some of the hot air out of the arguments of some on the right who suggest that C&T is a tax (it's not) and that it is designed to singlehandedly destroy the economy (the exact opposite is true).

The book does a great job of recognizing climate change as a truly non-partisan issue. Pooley gives time to the failures and successes of both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, lefty environmentalists and righty libertarians. Pooley makes heroes of those who seek to reconcile views, and base solutions on strong science and economics. The only villains in this story are those "Deniers," fundamentalists who, like those who denied the link between tobacco and cancer, have failed to present a logically or scientifically consistent point of view, and instead, have manipulated public opinion to block progress at any cost.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonky, wonky, wonky. If you are a policy wonk, you will love this book. If you follow the politics of global warming and are not a climate "skeptic", you will love this book. If you listen to National Public Radio, follow politics, and think the political process is interesting, you will probably love this book. If you are a climate change "skeptic", why bother reading this book? You'll probably disagree with the author about 90 percent of the time, and then think you've wasted your money.

The title of the book is a little misleading. The book really doesn't go back very far in "the climate war", only covers the United States, and covers very little of the rest of the world. The title of the book should have been "How the 2009 American Climate Bill was Defeated". That's what the whole book is about. As such, it is a bit depressing for those of us who think something should be done at the national level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sooner rather than later. Admittedly, when the author started writing the book, he thought it would have a different ending, one in which a meaningful climate bill was successfully passed. However, because no such bill looks feasible currently (2010); the effect of reading the book is to be reminded just how powerful the coal and petrochemical industries really are. I sincerely hope this last statement becomes out-dated soon.

The book gets a maximum 5 of 5 stars for its depth and effort, and from what I can tell, extreme accuracy and fair reporting of climate change politics in America. Having said that, it's not perfect.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're interested in climate change and climate policy, and if you have a laser-beam focus on the United States context and limited interest in what transpires outside, Eric Pooley's book is a must-read. It's not perfect - it is a joirnalist's account, not a historian's, and thus has a few too many magazine-profile-esque potted biographies; it is also very much focussed on the activities of the main sources who cooperated with Pooley. If you're a climate sceptic, or a red-blooded enviro who disdains compromise with markets and corporations, you will bristle at Pooley's point of view, which is pro-climate action, pro-market and pragmatic, and entirely overt. There's really no picture of what was happening outside the US - international meetings are described only in terms of other countries' responses to US action and inaction - but as an account of the long and unfinished road to US climate legislation this is an entirely essential book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book details the efforts from December 2007 through December 2009 to get climate change legislation passed in the U.S. The book is at its best during two long passages when it discusses the ins and outs of getting legislation passed through the U.S. House and Senate. The first is the discussion of the unsuccessful attempt at getting a bill through the Senate, and the second is about the successful passage of a measure through the U.S. House. These passages are page-turners, even though I knew how each ended.

Other parts of the book are less interesting. It is a bit too wordy in parts, and there is some minor sloppy editing. Admittedly the book feels incomplete, but that's because the U.S. still (as of the book's publishing a year and a half ago and as I write this in late 2011) hasn't passed any climate legislation. For that same reason, the book is not outdated; nothing has happened since the book was published. It's by no means impartial, and it will probably be off-putting to both the climate-deniers on the right and the far-left anti-cap-and-trade enviros. But the author is with those who are right, and it's a great expose of the fight and unfortunately the failure (so far).
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