Forty Years After Earth Day: Straight Up

Straight UpWhen “millions of environmental activists gathered on college campuses and in major cities 40 years ago for the first Earth Day, the rallies, teach-ins and organizing helped galvanize action on a historic scale — including passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.” Acid rain pollution, ozone-depleting chemicals, and neurological toxins are down because of these strong rules, as the chemical, auto and coal industries now like to trumpet. But the buildup of greenhouse gas pollution, which some climate physicists were worrying about forty years ago, has become a global existential crisis that has mobilized the world’s scientific community.

Center of American Progress Senior Fellow Joseph Romm, PhD, has just published a stiff drink of a book based on his work as the voice of the Climate Progress blog. In Straight Up: America’s Fiercest Climate Blogger Takes on the Status Quo Media, Politicians, and Clean Energy Solutions, Romm distills his best work from the blog and honestly describes the catastrophic path humanity is on — and the clean energy solutions that offer hope for survival.

Here are just a few insights from this wide-ranging book, which clearly separates political and media delusions from physical reality:

— “If those who are counseling inaction and delay succeed, billions of humans will suffer unimaginable misery and chaos, while most other species will simply go extinct.”

“If the U.S. media refuse to make the connection between record-breaking wildfire, drought, and heat waves and human-caused global warming, why would anyone be surprised if the U.S. public doesn’t put it as a higher priority or make the connection itself?”

America is the Saudi Arabia of energy waste.”

“The two key questions are, first, will we voluntarily give up fossil fuels in the next couple of decades, rather than being forced to do so helter-skelter after it is too late to stop the catastrophe? Second, when we do give them up, will the United States be a global leader in creating jobs and exports in clean technologies, or will we be importing them from Europe, Japan, and the likely clean energy leader in our absence, China?”

“If every day is Earth Day, then April 22 definitely needs a new name. . . . So let’s call it Triage Day. And if worse comes to worst — yes, if worse comes to worst — at least future generations won’t have to change the name again.”

What makes Straight Up work is what has made Romm such an effective blogger — these pithy quotes are backed up with sweeping policy knowledge and a mastery of the facts, from climate science to clean energy. Although I would have preferred a more deeply edited work that took the collected blog posts and refined their energy and intelligence, Straight Up is a unique resource. If you know anyone who’s ever wondered what “blogs” are all about or is confused why there are people who think global warming is such a big deal, it’s a safe bet this book will help set them straight.

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