The parrot and the igloo Climate and the science of denial

David Lipsky, 1965-

Book - 2023

Explores how "anti-science" became so virulent in American life through a history of climate denial and its consequences.

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 363.73874/Lipsky Due Jul 1, 2024
New York, N.Y. : W.W. Norton & Company [2023]
Main Author
David Lipsky, 1965- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
xiv, 480 pages ; 24 cm
  • Preface
  • Part 1. Inventors
  • The Message
  • The Hustler
  • The Promise
  • The Electrician
  • The Jubilee
  • Part 2. Scientists
  • The Wayward Wind
  • The Soda Machine
  • The Tire Prints and the Smoke Menace
  • The Geophysical Experiment
  • The Overwhelming Desire
  • The Fine Noses
  • The Moles
  • The Brakes and the Indian
  • The Yamal and the Fence-Come North with Me
  • The Global Computer Model
  • The Wood Chips and the Malaise
  • The Frog
  • The Unwarranted and Alarmist Report
  • The Undoing of Thomas Midgley
  • The Undoing II-Red Days
  • The Home of Donna Reed
  • The Pirate
  • The Pilot Lights and Somebody's World
  • Mark Mills
  • Part 3. Deniers
  • Old Judge, or Tobacco Killed a Cat
  • Stockings and Chairs
  • Genetics
  • A Scientific Gymnastic Feat
  • Wall of Flesh
  • Simple Annihilation
  • > First Class
  • Philosophers and Priests
  • Counterblaste
  • A Czarina Enjoys the Corporate Christmas Party
  • S.
  • Emperor of the Universe
  • Who Digested the Scientists?
  • Millions of Guinea Pigs
  • Dinosaurs
  • Committee on the Care of Children
  • An Exceptional Case
  • "Arthur Robinson Is a Good Scientist"-Arthur Robinson
  • Arthur and the World
  • Jason Bourne's Crestfallen Itinerary
  • An Unexpected Gift
  • Editing Turns the Mild into Weather Gods
  • ASS and Chair
  • Glengarry Glen Monckton
  • The Business Cards and the Straight Noodle
  • Epilogue: The Parrot and the Igloo
  • The Igloo
  • The Parrot
  • Acknowledgments
  • A Note on the Sources
Review by Booklist Review

This tome by award-winning author Lipsky takes the reader on a journey through the evolution of climate-change denial--including how cancer-denial strategies and lobbying by tobacco companies paved the way for its brand of scientific obfuscation--and how it has prevented legislative action. Lipsky covers the science of climate change itself, starting with the discovery of the greenhouse effect in 1824. In 1956, scientist Roger Revelle wrote a piece for Time magazine that confirmed that burning fossil fuel increases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the results over time cause climate change. Sadly, even in 1965, the Washington Post postulated why no action on climate change would occur when it stated that it is not owing to lack of knowledge but "inability to turn knowledge into effective public action." The major deniers would ultimately fall by the wayside, but the lack of response persists. With the amount of research that went into this book, this can be considered the historical record to date on climate action and inaction.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Humor accompanies horrific truths in this vital look at the rise of climate change denial. With dry wit and novelistic flair, National Magazine Award winner Lipsky (Absolutely American) chronicles how harnessing electricity changed the world, then charts growing public awareness of electricity and fossil fuels' contributions to climate change. After covering the innovations of Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and George Westinghouse, Lipsky fast-forwards to describe how the climate became a political issue, from concerns over air pollution to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency to the 2006 Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The most revelatory section illuminates corporate disinformation campaigns as Lipsky points out how climate denialism borrowed tactics that the tobacco industry used to push back on science linking smoking with lung cancer, notably the strategy of rebuking scientific consensus by calling for more research. Lipsky adopts an offbeat style ("Arrange all farewells and balloons no later than 2069," he deadpans about a biologist's tongue-in-cheek prediction of apocalypse), and his perspective on how diverse cultural and political forces have contributed to inaction on climate change is sobering and incisive. Buoyed by thorough historical research, this is a first-rate entry in the field of climate denial studies. (Jan.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

A National Magazine Award--winning, New York Times best-selling author, Lipsky explains how antiscience sentiment became so strong in the United States by focusing on climate change denial. He lays bare the science of climate change, understood decades ago, then shows how fake news about products like aspirin created the tools for denier ideas to take hold.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

An exploration of the history of climate change denial. In this simultaneously captivating and disturbing book, Lipsky, a professor at NYU and National Magazine Award winner, explores the history of climate change--and those who deny that it is largely human-made--over the past 70 years. The author begins by sharing stories of the inventors who sparked the technological advances that, without their knowledge, triggered the climate problems we face today, primarily Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla. Lipsky then moves on to the scientists who identified carbon dioxide as the culprit and brought the problem to the world's attention. Of course, climate change is not a new concept--"by the mid-fifties, the science was already well understood"--but early predictions were a "gross underestimate" of the situation, particularly because fossil fuel use grew more quickly than anticipated. Lipsky also lays out how denial and lies related to climate change are as strong as ever. In the 1950s and '60s, the New York Timesran dozens of articles about climate change, but by the late 1980s, climate change "would seem an idea hatched by environmentalists." The author paints a clear, damning portrait of leaders in the energy sector who have repeatedly failed to take responsibility for the effects of their actions, even seeding doubt and deception where possible. Furthermore, politicians on both sides of the aisle have pushed their own agendas, focused on problems they felt were more pressing, and never taken concrete action to mitigate the destructive effects of climate change. "The climate doesn't care about politics, or experts, or warnings, and isn't even aware there are people," writes Lipsky. "We have our days and lists and hours, our schedules and emergencies; but the climate keeps its own time." As of 2021, notes the author, 19 of the 20 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000. An important book that will leave your head shaking. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.