Summary and book reviews of Boiling Point by Ross Gelbspan

Boiling Point

How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis--and What We Can Do to Avert Disaster

by Ross Gelbspan

Boiling Point
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2004, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2005, 304 pages

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Book Summary

A brilliant examination of the most challenging environmental and political crisis this civilization has ever faced, Gelbspan shows not only the seriousness of climate disruption, but also how it could be deflected at huge savings to the public.

In Boiling Point, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ross Gelbspan argues that, unchecked, climate change will swamp every other issue facing us today. Indeed, what began as an initial response of many institutions--denial and delay--has now grown into a crime against humanity.

Gelbspan's previous book, The Heat Is On, exposed the financing of climate-change skeptics by the oil and coal companies. In Boiling Point, he reveals exactly how the fossil fuel industry is directing the Bush administration's energy and climate policies--payback for helping Bush get elected. Even more surprisingly, Gelbspan points a finger at both the media and environmental activists for unwittingly worsening the crisis. Finally, he offers a concrete plan for averting a full-blown climate catastrophe. 

According to Gelbspan, a proper approach to climate change could solve many other problems in our social, political, and economic lives. It would dramatically reduce our reliance on oil, and with it our exposure to instability in the Middle East. It would create millions of jobs and raise living standards in poor countries whose populations are affected by climate-driven disease epidemics and whose borders are overrun by environmental refugees.

It would also expand the global economy and lead to a far wealthier and more peaceful world. A passionate call-to-arms and a thoughtful roadmap for change, Boiling Point reveals what's at stake for our fragile planet.

Chapter 5
Three Fronts of the Climate War

We are all adrift in the same boat. And there is no way half the boat is going to sink.
Raul Estrada Oyuela, Argentine climate negotiator, Kyoto, Japan, December 1997

Although the battle over the climate issue is most vividly illustrated by the relentless resistance of big coal and big oil within the United States, it has rippled throughout the political, diplomatic, and business arenas--pitting nations and industries against each other and even setting the federal government against many states.

Within a month of taking office, President George W. Bush opened a gaping rupture between the United States and Europe on an issue of paramount importance to the Europeans--global climate change.

That split over the climate crisis would be reflected in growing divisions between the United States and the rest of the world, between Washington and many U.S. state and city governments, and within the business world as well, exposing...

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Reviews

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To see that global warming is effecting our weather patterns, look no further than the insurance industry. During the 1980s insurance companies in the USA lost an average of $2 billion a year to weather extremes, but this rose to an average of $12 billion a year in the 1990s. The United Nations estimate that in this decade the annual losses to the global economy from climate impacts will approximate $150 billion a year.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (452 words).

Media Reviews

The New York Times - Al Gore

The blend of passionate advocacy and lucid analysis that Ross Gelbspan brings to this, his second book about global warming, is extremely readable because the author's voice is so authentic … Gelbspan's point is a powerful one and is well argued. And he has, in any case, performed a great service by writing an informative book on a difficult but crucial subject.

Publishers Weekly

Gelbspan writes clearly....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.

Kirkus Reviews

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

Author Blurb Mark Hertsgaard, author of Earth Odyssey: Around the World in Search of Our Environmental Future
In 1997 Ross Gelbspan authored one of the essential books about climate change, The Heat Is On. Now he's done it again. By carefully marshalling new scientific findings showing that our climate is changing much faster - and with deadlier effects - than expected, Boiling Point proves that climate changes is not just another issue; it is the single most urgent threat to civilization's survival in the twenty-first century. Please act on this book. There's no time to lose.

Author Blurb George M. Woodwell, Ph.D. Founder and director of The Woods Hole Research Center
A brilliant examination of the most challenging environmental and political crisis this civilization has ever faced. With sharp prose and a fine command of scientific evidence, Gelbspan shows not only the seriousness of climate disruption, but also how it could be deflected at huge savings to the public. This book may be the trigger for just such a change.

Author Blurb Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
Ross Gelbspan is an absolutely crucial writer--his reporting on the highest-stakes issue of our time has broken new ground over and over again; his analysis cuts through all the halfhearted proposals of our politicians; and his proposals make urgent sense. Most of all, he manages to get across just how desperate our situation is. Please read this book.

Author Blurb Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University
As Boiling Point makes so clear, climate change is far more than an environmental problem. A solution to the climate crisis on the scale that Gelbspan proposes could be the beginning of a new global dynamic, one that could lead to unprecedented cooperation for the redemption of our species' future. While the facts in this splendid book are terrifying, the opportunity it reveals is truly thrilling.

Reader Reviews

Sandy Hokanson

This book is easy to read and understand. The author clearly describes global warming, what causes it, what its current effects are, and what could happen in the future if the problem is ignored. And, unlike many "catastrophe" books, this...   Read More

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"We are all adrift in the same boat. And there is no way half the boat is going to sink."
Raul Estrada Oyuela, Argentine climate negotiator, Kyoto, Japan, December 1997.

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