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The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth
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The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth

by Eric Pooley
 

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In The Climate War, Eric Pooley—deputy editor of Bloomberg BusinessWeek—does for global warming what Bob Woodward did for presidents and Lawrence Wright did for terrorists. In this epic tale of an American civil war, Pooley takes us behind the scenes and into the hearts and minds of the most important players in the struggle to cap global

Overview

In The Climate War, Eric Pooley—deputy editor of Bloomberg BusinessWeek—does for global warming what Bob Woodward did for presidents and Lawrence Wright did for terrorists. In this epic tale of an American civil war, Pooley takes us behind the scenes and into the hearts and minds of the most important players in the struggle to cap global warming pollution—a fight in which trillions of dollars and the fate of the planet are at stake.

Why has it been so hard for America to come to grips with climate change? Why do so many people believe it isn't really happening? As President Obama’s science advisor John Holdren has said, “We’re driving in a car with bad brakes in a fog and heading for a cliff. We know for sure that cliff is out there. We just don’t know exactly where it is. Prudence would suggest that we should start putting on the brakes.” But powerful interests are threatened by the carbon cap that would speed the transition to a clean energy economy, and their agents have worked successfully to deny the problem and delay the solutions.

To write this book, Pooley, the former managing editor of Fortune and chief political correspondent for Time, spent three years embedded with an extraordinary cast of characters: from the flamboyant head of one of the nation's largest coal-burning energy companies to the driven environmental leader who made common cause with him, from leading scientists warning of impending catastrophe to professional skeptics disputing almost every aspect of climate science, from radical activists chaining themselves to bulldozers to powerful lobbyists, media gurus, and advisors in Obama's West Wing—and, to top it off, unprecedented access to former Vice President Al Gore and his team of climate activists.

Pooley captures the quiet determination and even heroism of climate campaigners who have dedicated their lives to an uphill battle that’s still raging today. He asks whether we have what it takes to preserve our planet’s habitability, and shows how America’s climate war sends shock waves from Bali to Copenhagen. No other reporter enjoys such access to this cast of characters. No other book covers this terrain. From the trenches of a North Carolina power plant to the battlefields of Capitol Hill, Madison Avenue, and Wall Street, The Climate War is the essential read for anyone who wants to understand the players and politics behind the most important issue we face today.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A solid work of environmental reportage from the front lines of cap-and-trade, the Kyoto Protocol, carbon sequestration and other weighty matters. Bloomberg BusinessWeek deputy editor Pooley sympathizes with the initial doubts about climate change. "You didn't have to be a conservative to be an armchair skeptic," he writes. "[A]nyone would prefer it not to be real." Against the reality of this change, chronicled by the most august scientific organizations, is a body of naysayers whom the author collectively dubs the "Denialosphere." This loosely organized cabal of deniers, whose founding members "saw themselves as flinty truth tellers trying to stop the world from adopting solutions they hated in response to a problem they didn't think existed," an attitude that prevails to this day, rarely included a trained scientist. Most were insurance agents and public-relations executives, with an occasional civil engineer for leavening. Somehow this noisy crew inserted itself into the legislative process, happily aided and abetted during the disastrous years of the science-hating Bush administration. Against them stood-and stands-not just those scientists, but a rather motley crew of activists, such as a young dreadlocked leftie named Anthony Jones who became a standard-bearer of the green-jobs movement. Pooley's account is light on hard science, but his focus is politics-and that politics is often impossibly bizarre, featuring remote policy wonks and deep corporate pockets, among them sleazy executives who once "fought the ban on workplace smoking" and are now trying to save the planet from the planet-savers. A well-written Primary Colors for the environmentalist set. Tie-in to author's lecture schedule
Michiko Kakutani
Mr. Pooley gives us a detailed…account of the political battle to get Congress to take legislative action on global warming. It is a depressing account of gridlock in Washington, of efforts by conservative lobbyists to deny the phenomenon altogether (and when that hasn't worked, to delay any sort of action), and of infighting within the environmental left over whether to compromise and try to get the support of centrists and corporate interests, or whether to take a hard-line, ideological stand. It is a story about how the economic meltdown of 2008 and the ensuing recession—and concerns about job losses and other short-term costs of establishing a clean-energy economy—affected the debate over global warming and the political arithmetic that members of Congress and the Obama administration have been doing over the viability of climate change legislation.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401323264
Publisher:
Hachette Books
Publication date:
06/08/2010
Pages:
481
Sales rank:
1,312,634
Product dimensions:
9.56(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.36(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

John Podesta
Eric Pooley's The Climate War is a painstakingly researched account of how climate change grew to become one of the defining political issues of a generation. As progressives in America and around the world fight to head off climate disaster, Pooley's book presents a much-needed history of the campaign for climate protection, and reminds us, once again, why urgent action is so necessary. (John Podesta, President and CEO Center for American Progress)
Kurt Andersen
If the science is so clear and compelling—the way we use energy is dangerously overheating the planet—the how come it's so agonizingly difficult for America to face facts and lead the way toward a global solution? Finally, I have a good idea why, thanks to Eric Pooley's lucid chronicle of the long-running struggles—political, personal and above all, economic—to define the world that our children and grandchildren will inhabit. (Kurt Andersen, Author of Heyday and Reset and Host of public radio's "Studio 360")
Michael Oppenheimer
In the ever-expanding literature on climate change, this is the first book to put a human face on the problem by getting into the heads of the people who are trying to solve it, deftly revealing the messy entanglement of idealism and realism that ultimately results in progress. (Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, Princeton University)
Walter Isaacson
The first great campaign book about the political battle over climate change. Eric Pooley brings us inside this epic struggle in which science, business, and politics all come together. The characters are fascinating and the stakes are enormous. (Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, The Aspen Institute and Author of Einstein: His Life and Universe)
Bill Clinton
Eric Pooley has written a riveting tale, the very first account of the epic American campaign to get serious about global warming. This story has heroes, like my friend Al Gore, and it has some villains. What it doesn't have is an ending; that part is still up to us. Which is why anyone who worries about the future of our nation—or wonders why it has been so hard for us to deal with climate change—should read this book. (President Bill Clinton)
Elizabeth Kolbert
The Climate War offers a behind-the-scenes look at the most consequential political battle of our time. It's a compelling—and often disturbing—read. (Elizabeth Kolbert, Author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe)
Jeff Goodell
The Climate War is a great book not just because it chronicles the bloody political fight to save the planet, but because it's the best argument I've ever read for how a single policy idea—cap and trade—can change the world. (Jeff Goodell, Author of How to Cool the Planet)
Katie McGinty
The legislative process revealed: Eric Pooley paints the personalities, the strategies, and the intrigue of climate politics in vivid detail. A page turner and a must-read for anyone who cares about the climate, and about America's continued ability to tackle problems and lead. (Katie McGinty, Former Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality)
Eric Roston
Journalism with principles: epic in scale, masterful in narrative and detail, with well-paced winks at the tragic absurdity of it all. (Eric Roston, Author of The Carbon Age)

Meet 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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