Ross Gelbspan

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Ross Gelbspan retired several years ago after a 31-year career in journalism as a reporter. As special projects editor of The Boston Globe, he conceived, directed and edited a series of articles that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.

Ross Gelbspan retired several years ago after a 31-year career in journalism as a reporter. As special projects editor of The Boston Globe, he conceived, directed and edited a series of articles that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.

In 1995, he co-authored an article on climate change and the spread of infectious disease which appeared in the Outlook Section of The Washington Post. His article on climate change, which appeared on the cover of the December, 1995 issue of Harper's Magazine, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

In 1997, he published a book on the global climate crisis titled: The Heat Is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth's Threatened Climate (Perseus Books). The book has also been published in German, Italian and Portuguese. (An updated U.S. paperback edition was published in 1998 (Perseus Books), as: The Heat Is On: the Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription).

The book received very positive reviews in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the science journal, Nature and elsewhere. It was excerpted in The Washington Post, the San Jose Mercury and other outlets.
It received national attention that summer when President Clinton told the press he was reading The Heat Is On.

Since the book's publication, Gelbspan has appeared in numerous radio and television interviews, including “Nightline,” “All Things Considered” and “Talk of the Nation.” He was invited to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in February, 1998, where he addressed government ministers and leaders of multi-national corporations.

In 2004, Gelbspan published Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists are Fueling the Climate Crisis – and What We Can Do to Avert Disaster (Basic Book). The book received the lead review, written by Al Gore, in the Sunday New York Times Book Review that August.

Gelbspan has written on issues related to the climate in, among other outlets, “The Atlantic Monthly,” “Harper's,” “the Nation,” “The American Prospect,” “Mother Jones” and “Sierra Magazine,” among others, as well as op-ed articles in The Baltimore Sun, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor and numerous other newspapers.

In the summer of 1998, he and Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment of Harvard Medical School, assembled a group of economists, energy company presidents and policy specialists to hammer out a set of strategies designed to dramatically accelerate the Kyoto process. They were invited to present those strategies at a conference in Buenos Aires in 1998. As a result of that presentation, the United Nations Development Programme invited them to mount a conference on those strategies in Bonn, Germany in June, 1999, during that round of climate negotiations.

The “strategies” have been endorsed by a number of large NGOs in India, Mexico, Germany, Bangladesh and elsewhere – as well as by a number of economists, energy specialists and environmentalists both in the U.S. and abroad. Most recently, the were endorsed by Margot Wallstrom, former Environmental Commissioner of the European Union, and Sir Crispin Tickell, former British Ambassador to the United Nations.

He presented these “solution” strategies in May, 2000, at a conference he keynoted in Cairo. (The conference was co-sponsored by UNEP and CEDARE, the Center for Environment and Development in the Arab Region and Europe). While in Cairo, he briefed directors and managers of Shell/Egypt.

In September, 2000, Gelbspan presented these strategies to a small group of Senators and Congressmen at a meeting in Washington. These strategies were received enthusiastically by a number of delegates and NGOs from the G-77 at the recent round of climate talks in The Hague, where they were disseminated by Anil Agarwal, head of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi and a leader of the NGO community of the G-77.

In December, 2000, these strategies were presented to a new G-8 Task Force on Renewable Energy headed by Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, director of Shell, as well as a managing director of the World Bank. Sir Mark intends to put these ideas in front of the full task force.

Over the course of his career, Gelbspan worked at The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Washington Post, the Village Voice, Scripps Howard, where he was a national news editor, and The Boston Globe. He has also taught at the Columbia University School of Journalism.

In 1971, he spent a month in the Soviet Union interviewing Soviet dissidents and human rights advocates. His four-part series on the Soviet underground was reprinted in the Congressional Record. In 1974, he edited a book for Scripps-Howard on the Congressional Watergate Committee hearings.

In 1979, the Boston Globe hired Gelbspan as a senior editor. In his capacity as special projects editor, he conceived, directed and edited a series of articles on job discrimination against African-Americans in Boston-area corporations, universities, unions, newspapers and state and city government. The series won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.

In 1991 he published an investigative book about FBI abuses during the 1980s. The book exposed the domestic aspect of the Iran-Contra scandal, documented a secret relationship between the FBI and the National Guard of El Salvador and detailed a campaign of surveillance, harassment and break-ins which led to the entry of the names of 100,000 political and religious activists in the FBI’ss terrorism files. That same year, he wrote a series of articles which contributed to the closing down of an aging, unsafe nuclear power plant in Western Massachusetts.

Gelbspan received his B.A. at Kenyon College and did post-graduate study at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.

He is 65, married to Anne Gelbspan, a non-profit developer of housing for low-income families, and the father of two daughters, Thea, 30, and Johanna, 28, and lives in Brookline, MA.

Lesson from EU: We Can't Finesse Nature With Accounting Tricks

Practical experience with carbon markets in the European Union raises a critical question: Will such systems ever work?  Backers of these markets, which involve setting limits on greenhouse gases and then allowing companies to buy and sell emission permits, see the approach as one of the cheapest and most effective ways to control the gases in advanced economies. Yet in Europe, which created the world’s largest carbon trading market three years ago, early evidence suggests the whole approach could fail.  

McCain's Definition of Alternative Energy Proves Radioactive

Senator John McCain said Wednesday that he wanted 45 new nuclear reactors built in the United States by 2030, a course he called “as difficult as it is necessary.” McCain told a crowd at Missouri State University that he saw nuclear power as a clean, safe alternative to traditional sources of energy that emit greenhouse gases. He said his ultimate goal was 100 new nuclear plants.

Cool it, George! They just can't float your boat!

As President Bush calls for repealing a ban on drilling off most of the coast of the United States, a shortage of ships used for deep-water offshore drilling promises to impede any rapid turnaround in oil exploration and supply.

Dick Cheney -- A Would-Be Planetary Dentist!

Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday called for a substantial increase in domestic drilling for oil and other natural resources, including in environmentally sensitive areas, saying that only increased production – and not new technology – will satisfy the nation's demand for energy. “We are an economy that runs on petroleum.

Some 20 million barrels of it a day. That can and will change over time, but it will be a very long time,” said Cheney, former head of U.S. oil company Halliburton. “We'd be doing the whole country a favor if more of that oil were produced here at home.”

A Dazzling Display of America's 'Can't Do' Spirit

The United States will tell a July meeting of the Group of Eight rich nations that it cannot meet big cuts in emissions of planet-warming gases by 2020, its chief climate negotiator Harlan Watson said. “It's frankly not do-able for us,” he said, referring to a goal for rich countries to curb greenhouse gases by 25-40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

UN Deep-Sixes Algae Seeding Scam

Nearly 200 countries agreed on Friday to a moratorium on projects to fight climate change by adding nutrients to the seas to spur growth of carbon-absorbing algae. Opponents argue the little-tested process has unknown risks which could threaten marine life, for instance by making the oceans more acidic.

Clean Coal's Costs Put It On Life Support!

How many windmills could we build for the cost of one clean coal plant?

Coal is abundant and cheap, assuring that it will continue to be used. But the failure to start building, testing, tweaking and perfecting carbon capture and storage means that developing the technology may come too late to make coal compatible with limiting global warming.“It’s a total mess,” said Daniel M. Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

Skeptics' Longest, Strongest Argument Kicks the Bucket

The humble bucket turns out to be at the bottom of a perplexing anomaly in the climate records for the twentieth century.

Land and ocean temperature measurements show a strange cooling of about 0.3 °C in the global mean temperature in 1945. A US–British team of climate scientists has now found a surprisingly simple explanation for the long-standing conundrum. It turns out that the mysterious drop is due to differences in the way that British and US ships' crews measured the sea surface temperature (SST) in the 1940s.

Time Out(ed) On The Tar Sands

I consider Time to be one of the more forward-looking periodicals when it comes to the environment.

But the editors messed up in this week's edition. The June 2 Time carries a breathless feature about the potential petroleum bonanza in Canada's tar sands.

The article's authors are so giddy with the testosterone rush of big-ass earth-moving machines that they forgot what a multifaceted disaster this “bonanza” would be. The magazine quotes tar men in Alberta as they marvel at their own ability to move mountains … literally

Climate's Sub-Prime Mortgages

Carbon offsets — and emissions-trading schemes, their industrial-scale siblings — are the environmental version of subprime mortgages.

They both started from some admirable premises. Developing countries like China and India need to be recruited into the fight against greenhouse gases. And markets are a better mechanism for change than command and control. But when those big ideas collide with the real world, the result is hand-waving at best, outright scams at worst. Moreover, they give the illusion that something constructive is being done.

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