Title: Boiling Point. How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Have Fueled the Climate Crisis - and What We Can Do to Avert Disaster
Author: Ross Gelbspan
Published: 2004

Overview: Boiling Point was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ross Gelbspan, who reports for The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The Philadelphia Bulletin. Gelbspan covered the first UN Conference on the Environment in Stockholm in 1972 and addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos in 1998. Here Gelbspan argues that the results of global climate changes are undeniable, and relying on statements that global warming is an unproven theory is just irresponsible. His arguments are always supported by strong evidence. The book concentrates on how global warming affects our lives and at the same time gives solutions on how to combat it.

Detail: The book consists of 8 chapters. They are all preceded by “Snapshots of the Warming” - short outlines about climate changes that have already occurred due to human activities. Gelbspan gives examples like the changing composition of marine populations because of rising water temperatures, or the evacuation of the population of Tuvalu, a small island, due to rising sea levels. In further chapters he clearly explains how the world’s community of scientists have responded to global warming concerns, and how environmental skeptics have manipulated the data or omitted essential facts.

Gelbspan’s term for enviro-skeptics is “criminals against humanity”. He asserts that they do their research at the demand of the coal and oil industry, their primary source of funds. Gelbspan explains the mechanics of energy industry lobbying in the White House and how Bush’s administration is now paying these industries back for their help in winning the election. Gelbspan also criticizes the press for not emphasizing strongly enough the relevance of global warming’s impact on the environment. He suggests that if the American press alerted us to what steps Europe has taken to combat global warming, American society would be more eager to implement some of these needed solutions. As a result policy makers would be forced to make changes in their strategy, due to pressure from society. He also says that European newspapers or magazines more often cover topics related to climate crisis than do American ones. He makes the point that the American press does not appropriately balance the voices of global warming proponents and global warming skeptics. Beyond the Kyoto Protocol, Gelbspan underlines the meaning of other projects such as Contraction and Convergence, Sky Trust and the Apollo Project–each of which has as a goal the rapid transition to non-carbon energy. Boiling Point is a call to action. The choice is yours.

Three Points of Personal Interest:

1. Between September 1999 and March 2000, the British paper The Guardian accorded more than three times more coverage to the climate issue than did The Washington Post.

2. The Bush administration’s ties to the fossil fuel industry: Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, the country’s largest oil field services firm. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice served on Chevron’s board of directors. Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans worked for a Denver oil and gas company. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham received over $700,000 in contributions for his 2000 Senate race from auto industry contributors.

3. One of the arguments supporting rejection of the Kyoto Protocol by Bush’s administration was that the treaty put no obligations on developing countries like China. But for the record, China, whose economy grew by 36% between 1995 and 2000, cut its emissions by 19% during the same period.