...a crisp, absorbing but still slim book ... Losing Earth is essential reading ... This is no science book; there are no charts, let alone equations. This is a well-told tale that grapples with Aristotle’s fundamental insight that humans are political animals—and asks whether we can finally, collectively, rouse ourselves to act.
... gripping, depressing, revelatory ... Climate change is a tragedy, but Rich makes clear that it is also a crime — a thing that bad people knowingly made worse, for their personal gain. That, I suspect, is one of the many aspects to the climate change battle that posterity will find it hard to believe, and impossible to forgive.
Rich's writing is compelling and clear, even as he lays out details of 1980s international environmental policy. Reading like a Greek tragedy, Losing Earth shows how close we came to making the right choices — if it weren't for our darker angels.
... far from letting the industry and its political servants off the hook, the book...ends with a full-throated, fire-and-brimstone indictment of the carbon lobby and its ongoing denial and delaying tactics ... it looks like Rich got religion (so to speak) on this matter, if he didn’t have it all along, repeatedly quoting Pope Francis and going all jeremiad-like, writing something you’d expect more from such scourges of the industry as Naomi Klein or Bill McKibben, or, for that matter, me ... So, to be clear, I have much respect for Rich and his project here. Losing Earth is an important, useful, and commendable little book. But it still has, to my eye, certain puzzling gaps or blind spots in the way it’s framed and in some of the conclusions it reaches ... it’s odd that Rich essentially ignores the existence of the climate movement. Rich even calls for a popular campaign, fueled by moral outrage, to hold deniers and obstructionists accountable—as though the actually existing climate movement hasn’t already brought hundreds of thousands into the streets...and fundamentally shifted the debate around climate and the fossil-fuel industry in precisely the kind of moral terms Rich is advocating
Losing Earth: A Recent History—a slightly expanded version of [Rich's] article—makes a strong case for the value of might-have-beens ... Losing Earth argues convincingly that during the 1980s, many people from various political backgrounds were willing to consider some sort of action on climate change. But it is an overstatement to say, as Rich does in his introduction, that we had an 'excellent chance' of solving the problem in the 1980s, and that the 'conditions for success were so favorable that they have the quality of a fable' ... What is clear from Rich’s story, and what remains relevant today, is that many of those who were concerned about climate change gave up before they even got started ... Like David Wallace-Wells in The Uninhabitable Earth, Rich does not hesitate to define the stakes ... If we don’t fix it, then, the Earth will be uninhabitable for future generations. And that prospect has profound consequences for us.
... a gripping tale of classic Aristotelian tragedy ... When you tell the story of climate change like this, maybe readers will feel that they can (finally) understand it. It offers a way to think about what is otherwise a nearly unthinkable problem. All of which seems terribly promising. And judged by the metric of whether it is an engaging story that keeps the reader flipping pages, Losing Earth is a resounding success. You have to admire the narrative alchemy by which Rich transmutes what is basically a series of meetings and conferences into a riveting will-they-or-won’t-they drama ... To tell the story as tragedy, Rich has to sacrifice important truths—both small and large ... Rich also ignores his story’s broader historical context ... Rich’s reporting is clearly extensive and thoughtful, and yet so often contradicts his narrative that it’s as if one hand is unwilling to know what the other is doing ... The deeper problem with Rich’s call to moralism as a spur to action is its ineffectiveness in building consensus and facilitating change—the stuff of politics ... Losing Earth is, perhaps unwittingly, an excellent reminder that the way we define problems shapes our definition of solutions.
... vividly told, through the eyes of many fascinating characters, and it is packed with valuable reminders of the chances we missed. (One gripe is that the book suffers from a lack of notes and references) ... The author memorably describes what happened when a group of 'policy gurus, deep thinkers, an industry scientist and an environmental activist' met to draft proposals for new climate legislation ... Although Rich’s book identifies the 1980s as the decade we could have stopped climate change, there were plenty of missed opportunities in the 90s, too, some of which he crams into an afterword ... Rich’s list of solutions is comprehensive ... serves as a salient reminder that the polarization we have become accustomed to was not always thus, and it gives me hope that we can resuscitate that grand bargain, that virtuous realignment, now that all the actual solutions are there to be had.
... shimmering ... Rich draws [a picture of the greenhouse effect] with verve ... Rich delivers [the collective] failure of imagination [to find solutions to climate change] and political will with a sharp stick.
... richly drawn, propulsive ... There’s much distinctive storytelling in Losing Earth ... Losing Earth beautifully underscores what it would mean to lose our Earth, but also plots a few steps — wobbly, tentative — toward saving it.