Losing Earth: A Recent History
Nathaniel Rich's Losing Earth began as a New York Times Magazine article examining the rise and fall of climate science's prominence in the United States. Now fleshed out into a compelling, short history bordering on the prophetic, Losing Earth recounts the crucial years from 1979 to 1989 that set the stage for the turn of the 21st century.
Rich reports as if he were a journalist abreast of the movement in the 1980s, vividly rendering the movement's key initiators. Alarmed by the silence around the issue in the houses of government, Rafe Pomerance, environmental activist and lobbyist, spearheads an effort to bring the climate crisis to the forefront of public discussion.
Against all odds, the motley group of scientists consciously branches into strategists and activists to address the biggest moral, economic and scientific threat to life on earth. Even with the vast support they garner, their movement's denouement is sudden, buckling with the close of the decade. Rich bookends these 10 years with striking calls to action, echoing the words of renowned climate scientist James Hansen, as he addressed the press: "It is time to stop waffling so much... and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here."
The strength of Rich's synthesis of historical information and documentation is the profound underlying tensions of past and present that delineate an uncomfortably familiar trajectory. The result is a windswept read with the incline of a Keeling Curve. --Amanda Ibarra, events manager, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.