In 1979, President Jimmy Carter launched an initiative for the US government to invest heavily in renewable energy resources. This is the starting point for Fire and Flood, described by the author, Eugene Linden, as “a People’s History of Climate Change, from 1979 to the Present”. Linden, a journalist now 75, has been pursuing this theme since a breakthrough article in Time Magazine in 1988.
The book is a vigorous polemic — some of the argument is dense, and not for the faint-hearted. It is not for the hardcore climate change sceptics. I don’t think it is going to change hearts and minds in that constituency.
It does, however, form an extremely useful guide to the milestones in the debate and discoveries into climate change and related environmental matters over the past 40 years. It gives good summaries of the science, and the political debates and rows. But it is especially strong on climate journalism, and how, at times, this has been poorly served in metropolitan and international mainstream media.