Books  Environmental Science  Climate & Climate Change 

Betting the Farm on a Drought: Stories from the Front Lines of Climate Change

The award-winning author of The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone offers a lively, thought-provoking overview of climate change from the perspectives of people who are dealing with it on the ground

By: Seamus McGraw (Author)

192 pages, 13 b/w illustrations

University of Texas Press

Hardback | Apr 2015 | #222144 | ISBN-13: 9780292756618
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £17.99 $22/€20 approx

About this book

Climate change has become one of the most polarizing issues of our time. Extremists on the left regularly issue hyperbolic jeremiads about the impending destruction of the environment, while extremists on the right counter with crass, tortured denials. But out in the vast middle are ordinary people dealing with stronger storms and more intense droughts than they've ever known. This middle ground is the focus of "Betting the Farm on a Drought," a lively, thought-provoking book that lays out the whole story of climate change – the science, the math, and most importantly, the human stories of people fighting both the climate and their own deeply held beliefs to find creative solutions to a host of environmental challenges.

Seamus McGraw takes us on a trip along America's culturally fractured back roads and listens to farmers and ranchers and fishermen, many of them people who are not ideologically, politically, or in some cases even religiously inclined to believe in man-made global climate change. He shows us how they are already being affected and the risks they are already taking on a personal level to deal with extreme weather and its very real consequences for their livelihoods. McGraw also speaks to scientists and policymakers who are trying to harness that most renewable of American resources, a sense of hope and self-reliance that remains strong in the face of daunting challenges. By bringing these voices together, Betting the Farm on a Drought ultimately becomes a model for how we all might have a pragmatic, reasoned conversation about our changing climate.

"Seamus McGraw takes on an immense and cacophonous subject – climate change – and does so in a way that avoids the usual polarities of denial versus panic. He does an excellent job of seeking out interested American parties who don't typically have a voice in the debate and makes a case that leadership on the issue probably won't come from the conventional class of 'leaders' (namely, Congress) [...] His pragmatism and his refusal to live in a world of ideals make this a worthy project [...] It deserves an audience of good readers."
– Tom Zoellner, author of Train: Riding the Rails that Created the Modern World and The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit, and Desire

"Seamus McGraw has created not just an important document regarding climate change and the future of our planet but a wonderful and truthful portrait of America. You feel like you're on the road with him, cruising down little-traveled streets to meet fascinating characters whom you'd never see on Fox News or CNN. A terrific book."
– A. J. Baime, author of The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm America at War and Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Man

"In a readable and reasoned way, Seamus McGraw tries to bring some sense to the highly charged issue of natural gas fracking and the larger issue of the changing climate. In Betting the Farm, Mr. McGrath pulls apart the various arguments pro and con in an attempt to find the areas of consensus and to understand what is behind the sometimes intractable positions taken by each side. [...] Betting the Farm is a compelling plea to understand the importance of actually trying to find solutions to these challenges and for the need for leadership to bring both sides together to develop policies so that we don't, literally, bet the farm."
– Christie Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and EPA Administrator under George W. Bush

"This title deserves a wide and varied readership; it has the power to change minds."


1. Sundance
2. Comfortable in Our Ignorance
3. Kindergarten in a Fallout Shelter
4. Preaching to the Choir
5. Running from a Grizzly in Your Slippers
6. The Other White Meat
7. Flying by Wire
8. Notes from the Ivory Clock Tower
9. "I Never Met a Liberal Before"
10. The Year the Creeks Stopped Freezing
11. "It's What I Do"
12. Penguins Tumbling Off an Ice Sheet


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Seamus McGraw has written eloquently about hydraulic fracking and its sometimes devastating effects on landscapes and communities in The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone. His award-winning writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, Reader’s Digest, and the Forward, and on Fox Latino.

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