Concern about climate change is nothing new and Nathaniel Rich’s book, Losing Earth, documents the decade from 1979 to 1989 to show what people knew, how government and industry reacted, and why we are still facing this ever increasing threat. Rich begins his book with the statement that “Nearly everything we know about climate change was understood in 1979.” and goes on to detail how scientists, environmentalists, and politicians worked to persuade the world to act or prevent the world from doing so. We learn about the attempts of people like environmentalist Rafe Pomerance, politician Al Gore, and climatologist Jim Hansen to focus attention on the problems of global warming, the efforts of companies like Exxon to influence federal policy regarding climate change, and the birth of climate denialism. Rich concludes his work by summarizing the current situation and heightening awareness of future problems.
Rich’s passion for his subject matter comes through as he reveals the the history of climate change and makes his case for for action. He shows an intimate knowledge of his facts and presents them without technical jargon so even the layman can understand the complexities of the situation. Society has ignored past messengers but hopefully will change as people like Rich continue to press their case.
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