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The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth Hardcover – Jun 8 2010


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About 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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Amazon.com: 17 reviews
33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A must read for environmental policy gurus July 2 2010
By Daniel D. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whether you're new to environmental policy, or old hat, Climate War provides an excellent history of the political struggles over climate change from the 60s and 70s through today. Whereas many authors feel the need to re-explain and re-interpret the science behind climate change, Eric Pooley presumes the reader's familiarity, and cuts directly to the narrative - describing climate's rocky road as a wedge issue and political eight ball as public opinion has been manipulated over the decades.

The only thing that has become more certain over time is the science behind climate change. Pooley's writing offers a nuanced and multifaceted read on the policy and public relations strategy. This writing will only become more important now, as the political branches, polarized news media, corporations, and general public gear up for another ridiculously theatrical fight over climate policy. Perhaps most useful is Pooley's historiography on the practice from environmental economics known as Cap and Trade. Pooley shows how Cap and Trade has been used in the past to resolve battles over acid rain, and lets some of the hot air out of the arguments of some on the right who suggest that C&T is a tax (it's not) and that it is designed to singlehandedly destroy the economy (the exact opposite is true).

The book does a great job of recognizing climate change as a truly non-partisan issue. Pooley gives time to the failures and successes of both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, lefty environmentalists and righty libertarians. Pooley makes heroes of those who seek to reconcile views, and base solutions on strong science and economics. The only villains in this story are those "Deniers," fundamentalists who, like those who denied the link between tobacco and cancer, have failed to present a logically or scientifically consistent point of view, and instead, have manipulated public opinion to block progress at any cost.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Climate Change Politics is indeed a War Sept. 28 2010
By Glenn Gallagher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Gets into the Dirty Details of Legislation Nov. 26 2011
By ghtx - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book details the efforts from December 2007 through December 2009 to get climate change legislation passed in the U.S. The book is at its best during two long passages when it discusses the ins and outs of getting legislation passed through the U.S. House and Senate. The first is the discussion of the unsuccessful attempt at getting a bill through the Senate, and the second is about the successful passage of a measure through the U.S. House. These passages are page-turners, even though I knew how each ended.

Other parts of the book are less interesting. It is a bit too wordy in parts, and there is some minor sloppy editing. Admittedly the book feels incomplete, but that's because the U.S. still (as of the book's publishing a year and a half ago and as I write this in late 2011) hasn't passed any climate legislation. For that same reason, the book is not outdated; nothing has happened since the book was published. It's by no means impartial, and it will probably be off-putting to both the climate-deniers on the right and the far-left anti-cap-and-trade enviros. But the author is with those who are right, and it's a great expose of the fight and unfortunately the failure (so far).
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read For Those Concerned Abou Global Warming March 11 2011
By Fredric Alan Maxwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
March 10, 2011
MISSOULA INDEPENDENT

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellent US-centric account Sept. 10 2010
By Stressed Chef - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're interested in climate change and climate policy, and if you have a laser-beam focus on the United States context and limited interest in what transpires outside, Eric Pooley's book is a must-read. It's not perfect - it is a joirnalist's account, not a historian's, and thus has a few too many magazine-profile-esque potted biographies; it is also very much focussed on the activities of the main sources who cooperated with Pooley. If you're a climate sceptic, or a red-blooded enviro who disdains compromise with markets and corporations, you will bristle at Pooley's point of view, which is pro-climate action, pro-market and pragmatic, and entirely overt. There's really no picture of what was happening outside the US - international meetings are described only in terms of other countries' responses to US action and inaction - but as an account of the long and unfinished road to US climate legislation this is an entirely essential book.


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