Journalist, Environmentalist : b. 1939
For over thirty years, Ross Gelbspan worked as a reporter, writing for The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. In 1984, as a senior editor at The Boston Globe, he directed and edited a Pulitzer Prize winning series of articles on job discrimination in Boston.
One issue, however, continues to define Gelbspan´s career: Global Warming. Though he retired from daily journalism in 1992, Gelbspan continues to make his voice heard on the subject.
Since 1972, when he covered the first UN environmental conference in Stockholm, Gelbspan has reported on world climate change. His articles have been published in such newspapers and periodicals as The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, Sierra Magazine, and The Atlantic Monthly. His first book on global environmental problems, The Heat is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth’s Threatened Climate, gained prominence when President Clinton announced that he was reading it.
In 1998, Gelbspan assembled a group of people to develop a plan to enlarge the scope and speed of international action on climate change. This work grew out of his frustration with the slow pace and timid goals of the Kyoto Protocol, whose effectiveness was crippled by obstructionist governments and individuals, most of whom were financed by the coal and oil industries. (The Protocol was adopted in 1997 by more than one-hundred countries and when into effect in February of 2005. The United States, responsible for about a quarter of the world´s gas emissions, has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Gelbspan wrote an article saying that the disaster was not a natural occurrence, but the result of the unnatural, manmade effects of global warming. He writes of his frustration at the lack of coverage of the hurricane´s root causes, stating, “Why the lack of major media attention to one of the biggest stories of this century? The reasons have to do with…the misguided application of journalistic balance, the very human tendency to deny the magnitude of so overwhelming a threat, and, last though not least, a decade-long campaign of deception, disinformation, and, at times, intimidation by the fossil fuel lobby to keep this issue off the public radar screen.”
Ross Gelbspan continues his work to educate the public about the dangers of ignoring climate change. Rob Sargent, Senior Energy Analyst for the Association of State Public Interest Groups in Boston, MA, says, “There are few people in this country who have done more than Ross Gelbspan to make sure that the problem of global warming gets the attention it deserves. It’s hard to imagine where the American environmental movement would be right now without Ross’s steadfast and determined efforts to prevent powerful interests from suppressing the truth about global warming.”