The New York Times best-selling author explores how "anti-science" became so virulent in American life – through a history of climate denial and its consequences.
In 1956, the New York Times prophesied that once global warming really kicked in, we could see parrots in the Antarctic. In 2010, when science deniers had control of the climate story, Senator James Inhofe and his family built an igloo on the Washington Mall and plunked a sign on top: AL GORE'S NEW HOME: HONK IF YOU LOVE CLIMATE CHANGE. In The Parrot and the Igloo, best-selling author David Lipsky tells the astonishing story of how we moved from one extreme (the correct one) to the other.
With narrative sweep and a superb eye for character, Lipsky unfolds the dramatic narrative of the long, strange march of climate science. The story begins with a tale of three inventors – Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla – who made our technological world, not knowing what they had set into motion. Then there are the scientists who sounded the alarm once they identified carbon dioxide as the culprit of our warming planet. And we meet the hucksters, zealots, and crackpots who lied about that science and misled the public in ever more outrageous ways. Lipsky masterfully traces the evolution of climate denial, exposing how it grew out of early efforts to build a network of untruth about products like aspirin and cigarettes.
Featuring an indelible cast of heroes and villains, mavericks and swindlers, The Parrot and the Igloo delivers a real-life tragicomedy – one that captures the extraordinary dance of science, money, and the American character.
David Lipsky is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Absolutely American and Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, which became the basis for the movie The End of the Tour. He has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Harper's Magazine, and New York, and he is a recipient of the National Magazine Award and the GLAAD Media Award. His work has been collected in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Magazine Writing. He teaches writing and literature at New York University and lives in New York City.
"David Lipsky spins top-flight climate literature into cliffhanger entertainment [...] [P]age turning and appropriately infuriating [...] [A] thriller of deceptions, side deals and close calls."
– Zoe Schlanger, New York Times Book Review
"An excellent, approachable primer on the science of global warming [...] [A] dizzying account."
– David Shribman, Boston Globe
"[The Parrot and the Igloo] is a book that should be read by just about everyone [...] Here a talented writer has painstakingly brought together facts, timelines, and personalities to portray a greater whole. And he has done so in a way that can only leave readers seething, wrathful, and ready for action."
– Bill Streever, E: The Environmental Magazine
"Lipsky offers a history of climate science – and with it, climate denial – starring a large cast of swindlers, zealots, politicians and hucksters to get to the heart of virulent anti-science ideologies in America."
– USA Today
"Captivating and disturbing [...] An important book that will leave your head shaking."
– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"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 chronicles how harnessing electricity changed the world [...] [R]evelatory [...] sobering and incisive. Buoyed by thorough historical research, this is a first-rate entry."
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Award-winning author Lipsky takes the reader on a journey through the evolution of climate change denial [...] With the amount of research that went into this book, this can be considered the historical record to date."
"A National Magazine Award-winning, New York Times best-selling author, Lipsky explains how antiscience sentiment became so strong in the United States by focusing on climate change denial. He lays bare the science of climate change, understood decades ago, then shows how fake news about products like aspirin created the tools for denier ideas to take hold."
– Library Journal
"Where can a person living on a melting planet turn, at least before the spaceship fleet is ready, for enlightenment? I'd start, and finish, with David Lipsky's brilliant epic The Parrot and the Igloo, which I devoured in a single, feverish, page-turning sitting, a perspective-altering dream, a story told in language as sharp and clear as the spring air we knew before all the carbon was released [...] You will stare out the same windows when you've finished, but nothing will look the same."
– Rich Cohen, New York Times best-selling author of Sweet and Low and Monsters
"The best nonfiction book I've read in decades. And the best book of its kind I've ever read."
– Darin Strauss, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Half a Life