Losing Earth
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Losing Earth : The Decade We Could Have Stopped Climate Change

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'The excellent and appalling Losing Earth by Nathaniel Rich describes how close we came in the 70s to dealing with the causes of global warming and how US big business and Reaganite politicians in the 80s ensured it didn't happen. Read it.' John Simpson

By 1979, we knew all that we know now about the science of climate change - what was happening, why it was happening, and how to stop it. Over the next ten years, we had the very real opportunity to stop it. Obviously, we failed.

Nathaniel Rich's groundbreaking account of that failure - and how tantalizingly close we came to signing binding treaties that would have saved us all before the fossil fuels industry and politicians committed to anti-scientific denialism - is already a journalistic blockbuster, a full issue of the New York Times Magazine that has earned favorable comparisons to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and John Hersey's Hiroshima. Rich has become an instant, in-demand expert and speaker. A major movie deal is already in place. It is the story, perhaps, that can shift the conversation.

In the book Losing Earth, Rich is able to provide more of the context for what did - and didn't - happen in the 1980s and, more important, is able to carry the story fully into the present day and wrestle with what those past failures mean for us at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It is not just an agonizing revelation of historical missed opportunities, but a clear-eyed and eloquent assessment of how we got to now, and what we can and must do before it's truly too late.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 143 x 224 x 30mm | 346g
  • PICADOR
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1529015820
  • 9781529015829
  • 68,201

Table of contents

Introduction - i: Introduction
Unit - ii: Part I: Shouts in the Street:1979-1982
Chapter - 1: The Whole Banana: Spring 1979
Chapter - 2: Mirror Worlds: Spring 1979
Chapter - 3: Between Clambake and Chaos: July 1979
Chapter - 4: Enter Cassandra, Raving: 1979-1980
Chapter - 5: A Very Aggressive Defensive Program: 1979-1980
Chapter - 6: Tiger on the Road: October 1980
Chapter - 7: A Deluge Most Unnatural: November 1980-September 1981
Chapter - 8: Heroes and Villains: March 1982
Chapter - 9: The Direction of an Impending Catastrophe: 1982
Unit - iii: Part II: Bad Science Fiction: 1983-1988
Chapter - 10: Caution Not Panic: 1983-1984
Chapter - 11: The World of Action: 1985
Chapter - 12: The Ozone in October: Fall 1985-Summer 1986
Chapter - 13: Atmospheric Scientist, New York, N.Y.: Fall 1987-Spring 1988
Unit - iv: Part III: You Will See Things That You Shall Believe: 1988-1989
Chapter - 14: Nothing but Bonfires: Summer 1988
Chapter - 15: Signal Weather: June 1988
Chapter - 16: Woodstock for Climate Change: June 1988-April 1989
Chapter - 17: Fragmented World: Fall 1988
Chapter - 18: The Great Includer and the Old Engineer: Spring 1989
Chapter - 19: Natural Processes: May 1989
Chapter - 20: The White House Effect: Fall 1989
Chapter - 21: Skunks at the Garden Party: November 1989
Section - v: Afterword: Glass-Bottomed Boats


Section - vi: A Note on the Sources
Acknowledgements - vii: Acknowledgements
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Review quote

Rich brilliantly relates the story of how, in 1979 . . . policymakers [were alerted] to the existential threat, only to see climate treaties fail in a welter of `profit over planet' a decade later. An eloquent science history, and an urgent eleventh-hour call to save what can be saved. * Nature * A gripping piece of history . . . Rich's writing is compelling . . . Like a Greek tragedy, Losing Earth shows how close we came to making the right choices. * National Public Radio * Rich demonstrates exquisitely how shallow debate of a deep problem - the planetary scale and civilizational consequences of climate change - exacerbates the problem. -- Stewart Brand Nathaniel Rich recounts how a crucial decade was squandered. Losing Earth is an important contribution to the record of our heedless age. -- Elizabeth Kolbert [Losing Earth] chronicles the failure of our scientific and political leaders to act to halt the climate apocalypse when they appeared on the verge of doing so, and casts the triumph of denial as the defining moral crisis for humankind. -- Philip Gourevitch Others have documented where we are, and speculated about where we might be headed, but the story of how we got here is perhaps the most important one to be told, because it is both a cautionary tale and an unfinished one. -- Jonathan Safran Foer The excellent and appalling Losing Earth by Nathaniel Rich describes how close we came in the 70s to dealing with the causes of global warming and how US big business & Reaganite politicians in the 80s ensured it didn't happen. Read it. -- John Simpson (on Twitter) As Nathaniel Rich observes "nearly every conversation we have in 2019 about climate change was being held
in 1979." His gripping, depressing, revelatory book makes it clear that not only is climate change a tragedy,
but that it is also a crime - a thing that bad people knowingly made worse, for their personal gain. That,
I suspect, is one of the many aspects to the climate change battle that posterity will find it hard to believe, and
impossible to forgive. -- John Lanchester * New York Times *
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About Nathaniel Rich

Nathaniel Rich is the author of the novels Odds Against Tomorrow and The Mayor's Tongue. His short fiction has appeared in McSweeney's, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and VICE, among other publications. He is a writer at large for The New York Times Magazine and a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and The Atlantic. Rich lives with his wife and son in New Orleans.
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Rating details

74 ratings
4.4 out of 5 stars
5 55% (41)
4 36% (27)
3 4% (3)
2 1% (1)
1 3% (2)
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