cover image The Parrot and the Igloo: Climate and the Science of Denial

The Parrot and the Igloo: Climate and the Science of Denial

David Lipsky. Norton, $32.50 (448p) ISBN 978-0-393-86670-4

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.)