Climate change is the most serious crisis of our time. As history is being written in fire in California and Greece, in the warming waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and in the melting ice of the Arctic and Antarctica, Carbon Blues demystifies current debates on climate change, discussing everything from carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere caused by cars, coal, and oil to global warming and worsening natural disasters.
A detailed examination of the history of climate change and its present and future consequences, Carbon Blues traces the essential economic importance of coal in the nineteenth century and oil in the twentieth, emphasizing the role of the automobile and the internal combustion engine in the dereliction of our planet. Exposing campaigns to mislead the public, Mike Mason reveals that the fatal consequences of CO2 and NO2 have been widely known for decades but successfully discounted and manipulated by the carbon lobby led by Exxon, BP, figures such as the Koch brothers, and democratically elected governments. Carbon Blues underlines the disturbing truth: that despite current attempts to remediate climate change, the harm already done – melting polar ice and the warming and rising of the seas – will be virtually irreversible.
As the fight against climate change comes to a head, Carbon Blues searches for fruitful ways forward.
1 The Smog of Capitalism 10
2 The Scramble for Oil 19
3 Carbon America 27
4 Motoring to Armageddon 52
5 “Exxon Knew” 73
6 The Geography of Catastrophe 87
7 The Forward March of Environmentalism 113
8 Renewables and Remediation 130
9 Reckoning: 2020-50 154
Epilogue Anton’s Song 169
Mike Mason is a retired high school and university teacher and the author of Turbulent Empires: A History of Global Capitalism since 1945 and Global Shift: Asia, Africa, and Latin America, 1945-2007.
"It is worth saying that it is preposterous that in a world where we can get energy from the sun, the wind, and the tides – all above ground – we still get energy by sending miners underground to dig coal, and by defacing the landscape in search of oil and with the construction of pipelines. Carbon Blues is a timely synthesis of the daunting subject of climate change and makes an important contribution to discourse on the topic in society and in the classroom."
– Laurel Sefton MacDowell, University of Toronto and author of An Environmental History of Canada