Tim Flannery at The New Statesman:
Forty years ago, Nathaniel Rich tells us in Losing Earth, global warming was better understood by the general public and US politicians than at any time since. Moreover, the opportunity to broker a global treaty to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases had presented itself, and the political will existed for the US to lead on the issue. Had action been taken, we could have stopped climate change in its tracks, much as we halted ozone depletion with the 1989 Montreal Protocol to phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
The history of what went wrong is a sorry tale, and Rich chooses to tell it through the eyes of two of the most enduring climate campaigners, Rafe Pomerance and James Hansen. Pomerance’s engagement with climate change began in 1979. He was working in the Washington office of Friends of the Earth when he read a technical report on coal that mentioned that in a few decades coal-burning might bring about “significant and damaging” changes to the atmosphere.