Gelbspan, Ross 1939(?)-
GELBSPAN, Ross 1939(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1939; married; children: two daughters.
CAREER: Boston Globe, Boston, MA, senior editor and special-projects editor, 1979-94; World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, participant, 1998. Reporter and editor for various periodicals, including Philadelphia Bulletin, Philadelphia, PA, and Washington Post, Washington, DC. Lecturer. Appeared on radio and television programs, including ABC News Nightline, ABC, and All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation, both National Public Radio.
AWARDS, HONORS: Pulitzer Prize for journalism (co-recipient), 1984, for work for Boston Globe; National Magazine Award nomination, 1995, for a cover story for Harper's magazine.
Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War against the Central America Movement, South End Press (Boston, MA), 1991.
The Heat Is On: The High-Stakes Battle over Earth's Threatened Climate, Addison Wesley (Reading, MA), 1997, updated as The Heat Is On: The Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription, Perseus Books (Reading, MA), 1998.
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 Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Interviews with members of the Soviet underground political movement were published in Congressional Record. Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Nation, Sierra, American Prospect, and Harper's.
SIDELIGHTS: Prize-winning journalist and environmentalist Ross Gelbspan is the author of The Heat Is On: The High Stakes Battle over Earth's Threatened Climate and Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis—and What We Can Do to Avert Disaster. A former senior editor at the Boston Globe, Gelbspan's interest in environmental topics was sparked while working on an article for the Washington Post in 1995 and he became drawn into the debate on global warming.
Evaluating the arguments raised by scientists who denied that the changing mix of gases in Earth's upper atmosphere were causing climactic change, he became aware of efforts by special interests to manipulate the data and distort the public's view. "That made me quite angry," Gelbspan told CA, "not because I love trees. It made me angry because I had devoted a thirty-one-year career to the belief that in a democracy we need honest information on which to base our decisions. What these few 'skeptic' scientists were doing was stealing our reality."
"Thinking about the issue, it quickly became clear that the climate crisis threatens the very survival of the coal and oil industries—which together constitute the biggest commercial enterprise in history. The science is very clear on one point: climate stabilization requires that humanity cut its consumption of carbon fuels by about seventy percent. That made the motivation behind the disinformation campaign … very clear."
Gelbspan has attempted to counter this disinformation campaign with several books and numerous articles and essays. The Heat Is On details the battles being waged by fossil fuel companies against environmental and governmental groups. The two sides dispute the contributing sources and the extent of the greenhouse effect, a phenomenon caused by the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere that may result in increased global temperatures. The book received national attention in 1997 when then-President Bill Clinton commented on it.
In Boiling Point Gelbspan continues his focus on what American Scientist contributor Linda Schmalbeck described as the "potentially dire effects of global climate change" and the massive effort underway to keep those effects hidden, even as they begin to escalate. Despite taking issue with the book's "tabloid-style" subtitle, Schmalbeck called Gelbspan's work "certainly worth reading" due to his in-depth explanation of how the warnings over global warming have been diluted by journalists' efforts to balance their journalistic reports, thereby giving rare findings that downplay the problem equal weight with the preponderance of scientific evidence. Another problem Gelbspan cites is that most journalists are not literate in scientific matters.
Humanist contributor Albert L. Huebner noted that "the hair-raising catalog of examples that he provides … ought to shock any reasonable person out of indifference."
In Gelbspan's 1991 book, Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War against the Central America Movement, Gelbspan describes the techniques used by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to quash support of leftist movements in Central American countries such as El Salvador during the Reagan administration. The primary targets of the FBI's antileftist activity were members of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), which were made up of U.S. citizens protesting the Reagan administration's policies in Central America. The U.S. government labeled CISPES and other similar organizations as terrorist organizations, Gelbspan writes, "simply because some of their opinions may conform to some positions held by the [then] Soviet Union or another government which is considered hostile to the United States." Gelbspan alleges that the FBI conducted thousands of investigations into the members of these groups, then provided that information to the government of El Salvador, causing many El Salvadorian political refugees to be returned there by force. As Gerry O'Sullivan noted in the Humanist, "of the 154 deported, fifty-two were killed, seven arrested, five jailed, and forty-seven captured and 'disappeared' by rightist death squads."
Reviewing Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI for Publishers Weekly, Penny Kagonoff declared that "at its best, this is a taut piece of true-crime writing." Choice contributor A. Theoharis hailed the book as an "important" work that "extends understanding of FBI surveillance activities." O'Sullivan concluded that the book is "a must-read for anyone worried about the ill health of civil liberties in these United States."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gelbspan, Ross, Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War against the Central America Movement, South End Press, 1991.
Gelbspan, Ross, 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 Books (New York, NY), 2004.
American Scientist, March-April, 2005, Linda Schmalbeck, review of Boiling Point, p. 174.
Booklist, August, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Boiling Point, p. 1880.
Choice, November, 1991, p. 509.
Environmental Law, fall, 2004, review of Boiling Point, p. 1291
Humanist, November-December, 1991, pp. 33-34; November-December, 2004, Albert L. Huebner, review of Boiling Point, p. 39.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2004, review of Boiling Point, p. 525.
New York Times Book Review, May 30, 2004, Verlyn Klinkenborg, review of Boiling Point, p. 19; August 15, 2004, Al Gore, "Hot Enough for Us?," p. 5.
Publishers Weekly, May 10, 1991, p. 278; June 14, 2004, review of Boiling Point, p. 54.
Science News, September 25, 2004, review of Boiling Point, p. 207.
Sierra, May, 2001, Joan Hamilton, "Truth Hugger" (interview), p. 10.
Utne Reader, September-October, 1991, p. 147.
Ross Gelbspan Home Page, http://www.theheatisonline.org (October 29, 3004).
"Gelbspan, Ross 1939(?)-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 15, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/gelbspan-ross-1939
"Gelbspan, Ross 1939(?)-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Retrieved November 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/gelbspan-ross-1939
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