15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
A few of the book's limitations:
1) The author does not touch upon the science of global warming, he assumes anybody reading the book is probably familiar with the basic science behind human-caused warming. The author is not a global warming skeptic, although he doesn't appear to be in the "imminent extinction of humanity" camp either.
2) The author writes about the U.S. as if it were the center of the world.
3) Although the author writes extensively on cap and trade, he doesn't actually do a very good job of explaining what it is. A nice graphic would have helped - cap and trade is actually a nuanced and not very inherently obvious concept for those new to it - I believe the author is so immersed in cap and trade politics, he forgot that the average person really does not understand the concept of cap and trade.
4) The author appears to believe that nothing bad should ever happen to the all-mighty corporate business interests, whether or not they are destroying human health or a livable environment. (He's quite an apologist for maintaining existing business practices so that no economic disruption occurs.)
Perhaps the biggest question I have about the author is whether or not he really believes carbon capture and sequestration (storage) is feasible. The author appears to endorse that coal-burning power plants can actually reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by successfully capturing the carbon dioxide, then transporting it and storing it underground or under the ocean, where it is safely kept out of the atmosphere. Unfortunately, carbon capture and storage is the most cynical, manipulative, false "solution" to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that exists today. The coal industry wants you to believe in "clean coal", which simply does not exist and cannot exist with current technology. The reason why "clean coal" is mentioned by industry is to lull people into a false sense of security that there is "a solution". However, anybody who has spent more than one hour researching feasibility of carbon capture and storage will tell you that it's just not going to happen in the next 50 years. Anybody telling you something differently is trying to sell you a bill of goods. I'm not exaggerating, just do your own research.
If "clean coal" will not exist, then instead of complaining, I would suggest the U.S. Senate and Congress to get serious about reducing greenhouse gases by requiring mandatory energy efficient buildings, and passing a minimum gas mileage of 70 mpg by the year 2020 vehicle model year (not as difficult as it sounds). Further, coal power plants can be replaced by power plants operating on natural gas, wind, solar, and nuclear (gotcha on that one, maybe). Even painting roofs white can cut down dramatically on air-conditioning in the summer - ever wonder why they whitewashed the houses in hot Mediterranean villages?
I suppose my main criticism of the book is that Mr. Poole seems to fervently believe in the power of the free market to solve problems, even global warming. However, this almost religious and blind belief in capitalism is what got the world into the environmental mess we are in. I suggest "more of the same" will not get us out of the hole we've dug ourselves into. Perhaps more intelligent planning will get us out of the hot state of affairs we are in.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Fredric Alan Maxwell
- Published on Amazon.com
March 10, 2011
Eric Pooley digs deep into the climate battle
by Fredric Alan Maxwell
With fewer glaciers in Glacier National Park and un-cold-killed pine beetles eating our forests, we Montanans suffer the negative effects of global warming everyday. Yet this purportedly most-advanced country in the world cannot enact desperately needed, vastly improved clean air standards. Why not?
Eric Pooley's must-read chronicle of the battle against global warming takes you from its birth and infancy through adolescence and adulthood. There are good guys who've won Nobel Prizes in this sort of thing, and bad guys who pay vast amounts of money to spread knowingly false information, as the Earth's atmosphere moves toward a tipping point of no return.
Of course, Al Gore's efforts for the past two decades are more than mentioned, as are those of environmental groups like Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace. Yet Pooley concentrates on Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund, and his successful efforts to broker a deal with the main opponents--the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers--whose living is made on the fossil fuels that create the greenhouse effect leading to climate change.
The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Planet - Eric Pooley - hardcover, Hyperion - 496 pages, $27.99
* The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the PlanetEric Pooleyhardcover, Hyperion496 pages, $27.99
Pooley details how ExxonMobile and its ilk hired groups of global climate change deniers to disseminate blatantly false information and create phony grassroots organizations to support oil and coal interests. One such group, the Center for Energy and Economic Development (CEED), rubbed Pooley the wrong way when he interviewed its president, Stephen L. Miller, after talking with Vice President of Communications Joe Lucas. Miller told Pooley that the raising of energy prices that cleaner coal would require troubled people.
"There are a lot of people out there who struggle," Miller told him. "My grandmother, who died many years ago, lived on a railroad pension. If you went to visit it was 99 degrees in her kitchen. She would turn on an air conditioner while you were there, turn it off as soon as you left."
Pooley had heard this before.
"The story rang a bell," he writes, "but it took a moment to place it. A month before, Joe Lucas had said the very same thing about his aunt Ethel. Except it was 120 degrees in her kitchen."
As a legislative issue, confronting climate change really did heat up after President Obama took office in 2009, following the Bush Administration, which had been bought and paid for by fossil fuel funds. Pooley details how Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rammed through a comprehensive bill placing a market-based cap on carbon emissions, better known as cap and trade. In the cap-and-trade scheme, a limit on access to a resource (the cap) is defined and then allocated among users in the form of permits, and compliance is established by comparing actual emissions with permits surrendered including any permits traded within the cap. The battle then moved to the Senate, and the Lieberman-Warner bill centered on cap and trade.
Pooley prefaces his book with an oft-forgotten fact about our Congress: that it's designed not to have legislation passed or, as the Wall Street Journal noted, that the system makes it difficult "for colossal tax and regulatory burdens to foxtrot into law without scrutiny." The GOP, having morphed into the Grand Obstructionist Party, most visibly in the Senate where nary a Republican senator would vote for virtually anything Obama supported, required the Senate to get a super-majority--60 out of 100 senators--to negate the threat to filibuster. Searching for kinks in the environmentalist armor, the Chamber of Commerce traveled across the county to demonstrate how the bill would hurt folks, making a stop in the Last Best Place.
In Billings, the group used a much-discredited ExxonMobile-funded conservative think tank "study" claiming that 52,000 jobs will be lost in Montana if the Lieberman-Warner bill passed and that it would cost the average Montana family $5,400 per year. It also projected that Montana families would have to "cut out things like piano lessons, dance lessons, or Little League or summer camp" and that "the idea of saving for college for your kids--that's gone." Unwilling to be drawn into the Chamber's apocalyptic parallel universe, Mike Lambert, the regulatory affairs manager at the local power company PPL Montana, announced that cap and trade was "a solution that needs to be implemented on a national scale."
Alas, the bill died.
Pooley cites three main reasons for the bill not passing. First, when the issue called out for Obama to lead his troops in the Senate, he balked, saving his political capital to pass health care reform. Next, he cites journalists who were trained that there are always two sides to a story and both must be reported, no matter how insignificant one side might be. Finally, he points the finger at we the people who talk a lot about stopping global warming but will not pay even a little more money to prevent it. So the glaciers continue to melt, and the pine beetles eat our trees. Much more damage will follow. The only question is how soon.