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Reviews of The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky

The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky

The Parrot and the Igloo

Climate and the Science of Denial

by David Lipsky
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  • First Published:
  • Jul 11, 2023
  • Paperback:
  • Jun 2024
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About This Book

Book Summary

The New York Times best-selling author explores how "anti-science" became so virulent in American life—through a history of climate denial and its consequences.

In 1956, the New York Times prophesied that once global warming really kicked in, we could see parrots in the Antarctic. In 2010, when science deniers had control of the climate story, Senator James Inhofe and his family built an igloo on the Washington Mall and plunked a sign on top: AL GORE'S NEW HOME: HONK IF YOU LOVE CLIMATE CHANGE. In The Parrot and the Igloo, best-selling author David Lipsky tells the astonishing story of how we moved from one extreme (the correct one) to the other.

With narrative sweep and a superb eye for character, Lipsky unfolds the dramatic narrative of the long, strange march of climate science. The story begins with a tale of three inventors—Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla—who made our technological world, not knowing what they had set into motion. Then there are the scientists who sounded the alarm once they identified carbon dioxide as the culprit of our warming planet. And we meet the hucksters, zealots, and crackpots who lied about that science and misled the public in ever more outrageous ways. Lipsky masterfully traces the evolution of climate denial, exposing how it grew out of early efforts to build a network of untruth about products like aspirin and cigarettes.

Featuring an indelible cast of heroes and villains, mavericks and swindlers, The Parrot and the Igloo delivers a real-life tragicomedy—one that captures the extraordinary dance of science, money, and the American character.

The Message

Technologies are like stars: they hang around the lot waiting for the right story, the proper vehicle. Electricity became a star with the telegraph. The telegraph needed a crime.

On New Year's Day in 1845, a sixty-year-old Quaker named John Tawell caught the Paddington train for Slough. (Slough, twenty miles from London, is one of those in-between places people like to make fun of. It's where the Ricky Gervais version of The Office is set.) John Tawell had been a chemist, a forger, a deportee to Australia; in 1841, he'd romanced and wed the dream bride of every reformed criminal: a prosperous widow. He also maintained a former mistress, Sarah Hart. They'd arrived at an informal palimony scheme. Fifty-two pounds a year, so long as Hart didn't spill the beans and ruin everything. Tawell was now running short of cash. Sarah Hart had a solution: Tawell could murder his wife. Instead, he bought a bottle of prussic acid and boarded the train for Slough.

Tawell poured the ...

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Reviews

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BookBrowse

Lipsky's writing is quick-witted and highly entertaining. He expertly manages the tone—moments of humor balance out the often-grim subject matter without trivializing it. His depiction of the people involved is personal and vivid, full of funny descriptions and insightful commentary. The Parrot and the Igloo is a disturbing breakdown of how anti-science rhetoric gained first a foothold, and then a major following in American politics. Well-researched and captivatingly written, it's a must-read for people seeking to understand how climate change became the subject of such vicious denial...continued

Full Review Members Only (660 words)

(Reviewed by Katharine Blatchford).

Media Reviews

Boston Globe
An excellent, approachable primer on the science of global warming…[A] dizzying account.

New York Times Book Review
David Lipsky spins top-flight climate literature into cliffhanger entertainment…[P]age turning and appropriately infuriating…[A] thriller of deceptions, side deals and close calls.

USA Today
Lipsky offers a history of climate science—and with it, climate denial—starring a large cast of swindlers, zealots, politicians and hucksters to get to the heart of virulent anti-science ideologies in America.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Captivating and disturbing.… An important book that will leave your head shaking.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Humor accompanies horrific truths in this vital look at the rise of climate change denial. With dry wit and novelistic flair, National Magazine Award winner Lipsky chronicles how harnessing electricity changed the world.…[R]evelatory…sobering and incisive. Buoyed by thorough historical research, this is a first-rate entry.

Booklist
Award-winning author Lipsky takes the reader on a journey through the evolution of climate change denial…With the amount of research that went into this book, this can be considered the historical record to date.

Library Journal
A National Magazine Award-winning, New York Times best-selling author, Lipsky explains how antiscience sentiment became so strong in the United States by focusing on climate change denial. He lays bare the science of climate change, understood decades ago, then shows how fake news about products like aspirin created the tools for denier ideas to take hold.

Author Blurb Darin Strauss, National Book Critics Circle Award–winning author of Half a Life
The best nonfiction book I've read in decades. And the best book of its kind I've ever read.

Author Blurb Rich Cohen, New York Times best-selling author of Sweet and Low and Monsters
Where can a person living on a melting planet turn, at least before the spaceship fleet is ready, for enlightenment? I'd start, and finish, with David Lipsky's brilliant epic The Parrot and the Igloo, which I devoured in a single, feverish, page-turning sitting, a perspective-altering dream, a story told in language as sharp and clear as the spring air we knew before all the carbon was released.… You will stare out the same windows when you've finished, but nothing will look the same.

Reader Reviews

prem singh

The Parrot and the Igloo Climate and the Science of Denial
In the fascinating weaving of Climate and the Investigation of Refusal, renowned NYU educator and Renowned Public Magazine Award winner David Lipsky brilliantly twists a narrative that describes not only verifiable visions. The anomaly of natural ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book



Keep America Beautiful and the "Crying Indian" Ad

Black and white photo of Iron Eyes Cody in Native American headdressDavid Lipsky's history of climate change denial, The Parrot and the Igloo, exposes many of the strategies deniers have used to prevent governmental action on environmental issues. One of the key approaches has been to shift responsibility for pollution off of industries and onto individuals. An excellent example of this strategy in action is the famous 1971 public service announcement produced by anti-litter nonprofit Keep America Beautiful. First aired on Earth Day, the ad showed an ostensibly Native American man steering a canoe down a river covered in floating trash, with industrial smokestacks puffing away on the banks. The ad has a brief voiceover: "Some people have a deep, abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this ...

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Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

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