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Hope for a Heated Planet

Hope for a Heated Planet: How Americans Are Fighting Global Warming and Building a Better Future

Robert K. Musil
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Hope for a Heated Planet
    Book Description:

    The book presents all the players in the most pressing challenge facing society today, from the massive fossil fuel lobby to the enlightened corporations that are joining the movement to "go green." Musil thoroughly explains the tremendous potential of renewable energy sourcesùwind, solar, and biofuelùand the startling conclusions of experts who say society can do away entirely with fossil fuels. He tells readers about the engaged politicians, activists, religious groups, and students who are already working together against climate change.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4623-0
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Robert Kirkland Musil
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    This book is an act of faith. It symbolizes hope. Holding it balanced on your knee in a favorite armchair or sneaking just a few more pages in bad light as your eyelids droop before surrendering to the propped pillows beneath your head, you and I are betting that there is a future, that human civilization will continue. We believe that ideas and people matter, that, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “the moral arc of the universe bends long, but it bends toward justice.”

    I agree with Thomas Jefferson, whose remark to John Adams, “I cannot live...

  5. 1 Understanding Climate Change: A Public Health Approach
    (pp. 13-29)

    Toward the end of his final term in late 2007, President George W. Bush called, belatedly, for an international meeting to discuss global climate change. Then in 2008, at the international negotiations in Bali, Indonesia, designed to set the parameters for a new climate treaty to update and replace the Kyoto Protocol, his administration, though not joining the treaty, no longer tried to block progress by other nations. These were late, futile gestures from a leader whose political stock had been plummeting for some time. Ignored for some seven years, global climate change had burst into view again between 2005...

  6. 2 Home, Home on the Range: Climate Change in the United States
    (pp. 30-46)

    The adverse health effects of global climate change were noted by public health specialists well before and at Kyoto.¹ But the focus tended to be on places other than the United States. And the venues were usually journal articles, reports, and conferences where climate science, medicine, or policy was central—not popular public education. Given mind-numbing statistics and deaths, far from the average American’s daily concerns (or news coverage), PSR decided to develop climate change studies accessible to the public, press, and policymakers. The reports featured material of interest to Americans where they lived, focusing on places and people they...

  7. 3 The Power of the Carbon Lobby
    (pp. 47-61)

    Some American public health problems—like the dangers of lead in gasoline or smoking cigarettes were well known for many decades before any effective public action was taken. The reason? Powerful corporations like the Ethyl Corporation in the case of lead, or R.J. Reynolds and others with tobacco, waged lengthy lobbying and public relations campaigns to prevent their products from being regulated or restricted. These corporate giants were able to advertise widely, to subsidize scientists, and to prowl Capitol Hill—all while dispensing generous political contributions. Not surprisingly, doctors, public health officials, and consumer advocates had difficulty being heard. They...

  8. 4 Framing and Talking about Global Warming
    (pp. 62-78)

    Global warming is not only a growing and dangerous public health problem. It is deeply embedded in the nature of the American economy, with strong corporate and political lobbies that seek to minimize its importance and forestall change. Simply presenting the “facts” will not be sufficient to counteract the carbon lobby. Even with a new administration in 2009, to have hope for a real transformation of American society—its energy use and greenhouse gas emissions—sustained political engagement from the public in favor of new, positive initiatives will be needed. To achieve this, Americans far beyond the usual circles of...

  9. 5 Assessing the Big Greens: Start Over or Build from Strength?
    (pp. 79-102)

    Framing environmental issues and climate change so they appeal to the broadest possible segment of Americans is critical to building support to prevent global warming. Powerful economic and political interests remain arrayed against change. Only public opinion that is mobilized through public interest organizations can offer a sufficient counterweight. But groups must be respected, strong enough, and actively engaged in our nation’s political process. A detailed public health strategy evaluates the organizational and political forces available to it. In this chapter, before turning to newer, still emerging movement efforts, I will examine closely the mainstream environmental movement, especially the informal...

  10. 6 The New Climate Movement
    (pp. 103-129)

    An even bigger climate movement is still needed. The good news is that it has been under way for some time. It has the opportunity to unify disparate constituencies, organizations, and grassroots operations. But the established organizations long at the center of climate change efforts should remain there. Some of the most important developments in environmental groups and new climate change mobilizations include alliances with and influence on business, work with religious communities, a renewed emphasis on state and local organizing and college campuses, more sophisticated nationwide lobbying and media campaigns, and plain old electoral politics. The environmental movement has...

  11. 7 Where Do Emissions and Energy Come From?
    (pp. 130-154)

    In this chapter, I want to look at where and how we get our energy, trends in its use, and the prevailing, conventional assumptions about why our future will continue to be dominated by fossil fuels. But our future is not inevitable. It depends on changes in the political climate and on our own actions. When we fast forward to 2030 or 2050, no one can be certain what our energy needs and sources will be. But I do know that what we’ve got is inefficient, costly, and dangerously unhealthy. Our energy sources are outmoded; they threaten to destroy our...

  12. 8 Energy Futures
    (pp. 155-181)

    We saw in the last chapter that most of our energy comes from fossil fuels and some nuclear power. We also use it pretty inefficiently. Only a small portion is produced from clean, renewable sources. But if we need to predict the future to comprehend global climate change, we must to do the same for energy efficiency and renewables. The question is how fast can we change our energy system and how far can we go with nonfossil fuels? In order to make a prognosis and prescribe treatment, we need to be sure the prevention plan is feasible. One of...

  13. 9 Creating Hope: What You Can Do
    (pp. 182-206)

    I want to end as I began. This book is an act of faith. At the outset, I promised you hope in a few hundred pages. Whether you have stuck with me thus far, or have skipped to the back of the book as I often do, or are idly flipping through the pages in your local bookstore, it’s time to close the deal in this chapter and the next. The faith part rests on you and me. It is remarkably refreshing and empowering to think that what you or I actually do or do not do makes a difference...

  14. 10 Hope for a Heated Planet: Policy and Politics
    (pp. 207-224)

    My friend Paul Gorman, founder of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, and I remember quite vividly sitting in the big, high-backed chairs in the White House Cabinet Room, talking about global warming with President Bill Clinton. No group of environmental leaders had ever before met with the president of the United States like this in the inner sanctum of American power. I talked with the president about malaria and the spread of infectious diseases. Others covered a wide range of climate-related policy issues—all of which Clinton seemed to know about. But Gorman had come late. Even though...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 225-248)
  16. Index
    (pp. 249-264)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 265-266)