Ross Gelbspan

Ross Gelbspan, a 30-year veteran journalist, is author of The Heat Is On (1998) and Boiling Point (2004), which contains more detail on his ideas for an energy transition. He maintains the Web site www.heatisonline.org.

Recent Articles

Two Paths for the Planet

Will we rewire the world with clean energy -- or descend into political chaos, social disruption, and climate hell? And will Washington get with the program?

Humanity is standing at a crossroads between a more just, peaceful world and an increasingly chaotic, turbulent, and authoritarian future driven by a succession of climate-driven emergencies. We could find ourselves struggling to survive a desolate era of climate hell marked not only by a degraded and fractured society but also by more authoritarian governments. But the good news is that the bad news is at last being taken seriously. With the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change synthesizing the work of some 2,500 scientists, there are no longer serious deniers. An alternative path could lead not just to a pullback from climate disaster, but to a more peaceful and cooperative world. Why? Because the private, corporate forces that have produced the climate emergency are powerless to cure it. As even many in the private sector now admit, the necessary solutions will require new feats of cooperation among governments, new collaborative regulation of energy and...

Global Denial

As floodwaters recede and bodies emerge, Americans are belatedly making some terrible connections about the Bush administration, which has a contempt for public planning matched only by its habit of subordinating reality to public relations. One aspect, of course, is Iraq. The other is the needless tragedy in New Orleans. The Hurricane Katrina disaster is also a curtain-raiser for the largest-ever challenge to public planning: the consequences of global warming. If the present complacency continues, we will see more flooding, more breakdown of democratic civil order, more loss of human life and dignity, and more vivid divisions between rich and poor. The parallel with Iraq is worth a moment's further reflection. In spring of 2002, in anticipation of the invasion of Iraq, the State Department consulted with about 200 leaders of Iraqi civil society -- lawyers, engineers, businesspeople, and others, all of whom detested Saddam Hussein. The group warned Thomas Warrick, then a State...

Global Denial

As floodwaters recede and bodies emerge, Americans are belatedly making some terrible connections about the Bush administration, which has a contempt for public planning matched only by its habit of subordinating reality to public relations. One aspect, of course, is Iraq. The other is the needless tragedy in New Orleans. The Hurricane Katrina disaster is also a curtain-raiser for the largest-ever challenge to public planning: the consequences of global warming. If the present complacency continues, we will see more flooding, more breakdown of democratic civil order, more loss of human life and dignity, and more vivid divisions between rich and poor. The parallel with Iraq is worth a moment's further reflection. In spring of 2002, in anticipation of the invasion of Iraq, the State Department consulted with about 200 leaders of Iraqi civil society -- lawyers, engineers, businesspeople, and others, all of whom detested Saddam Hussein. The group warned Thomas Warrick, then a State...

Beyond Kyoto Lite:

A t the end of the hottest October on record, delegates from 165 countries met in Marrakech last fall to finalize the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change. At first glance, the Kyoto goals seem negligible: By 2012, greenhouse gases must be cut to slightly below 1990 levels--a reduction to be realized through a loophole-ridden system of emissions trading. And thanks to the Bush administration, the 165 signatory nations do not include the United States, the superpower superpolluter that emits a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases. But the agreement's puny goals may have masked the beginning of a seismic shift in the global balance of political power--away from the United States and toward the European Union. "The view is nonetheless widespread in Europe," Jessica Tuchman Matthews wrote recently in Foreign Policy magazine, "that the U.S. decision on Kyoto could become a turning point in trans-Atlantic relations." Some European officials actually exulted because U.S. delegates were...

Bush's Climate Follies

B y withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol--the attempt by 160 nations to forge a treaty that will reduce worldwide emissions from coal combustion and oil burning, thus averting a global-warming catastrophe--President George W. Bush trashed years of work by European negotiators just as he was about to make his European diplomatic debut. By declaring climate science "unsettled" and calling on the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review the dire findings of the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he made an even greater miscalculation. For just as domestic attention focused on the infuriated Europeans, the NAS reported back that the international panel was, in fact, correct. The outrage in Europe and Japan over Bush's pullout from the three-year-old Kyoto talks--not to mention the Cheney-Bush energy plan to increase fossil-fuel burning by the world's biggest fuel burner--was loud and nearly unanimous. The thousands of angry demonstrators who...

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