By 1979, we knew nearly everything we understand today about climate change—including how to stop it. Over the next decade, a handful of scientists, politicians, and strategists, led by two unlikely heroes, risked their careers in a desperate, escalating campaign to convince the world to act before it was too late. Losing Earth is their story, and ours.
The New York Times Magazine devoted an entire issue to Nathaniel Rich’s groundbreaking chronicle of that decade, which became an instant journalistic phenomenon—the subject of news coverage, editorials, and conversations all over the world. In its emphasis on the lives of the people who grappled with the great existential threat of our age, it made vivid the moral dimensions of our shared plight.
Now expanded into book form, Losing Earth tells the human story of climate change in even richer, more intimate terms. It reveals, in previously unreported detail, the birth of climate denialism and the genesis of the fossil fuel industry’s coordinated effort to thwart climate policy through misinformation propaganda and political influence. The book carries the story into the present day, wrestling with the long shadow of our past failures and asking crucial questions about how we make sense of our past, our future, and ourselves.
Like John Hersey’s Hiroshima and Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth, Losing Earth is the rarest of achievements: a riveting work of dramatic history that articulates a moral framework for understanding how we got here, and how we must go forward.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The simple, haunting takeaway of Nathaniel Rich’s book is this: We’ve known for a long time that our planet is in danger, but have collectively chosen not to take bold action. In the 1980s, scientists, politicians, and even oil-and-gas executives were in agreement that humankind was belching too much carbon into the atmosphere—and that dramatic measures were necessary to control the damage. Rich investigates how this consensus was built and how, in the span of a decade, it was dismantled. Losing Earth manages to be both depressing and galvanizing: Once, not so long ago, we nearly solved climate change, so maybe there’s still time to get it right.