Solving the Climate Crisis through Social Change
Public Investment in Social Prosperity to Cool a Fevered Planet
by Gar W. Lipow
March 2012, 297pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39819-3
$53, £40, 46€, A72
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39820-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Why hasn’t America “gone green” yet? After all, the annual difference between U.S. military spending and the next five highest military spenders combined could pay the full cost of moving our nation to 100 percent renewable energy. Shifting spending from the military budget to public green investment will play a key role in overcoming the political inertia that currently holds America back from fully transitioning to environmentally sustainable technologies.

This book presents an accessible and easy-to-follow argument that the climate crisis is a side effect of inequality and injustice, and demonstrates how strategies such as large-scale social investment will prove far more effective in reducing greenhouse gas pollution than cap-and-trade or other forms of free-market environmentalism.

Solving the Climate Crisis through Social Change: Public Investment in Social Prosperity to Cool a Fevered Planet offers a new approach to battling the climate crisis, arguing that the massive waste that caused the current environmental crisis resulted not only from fundamental structural flaws in markets but also from social inequality, lack of democracy, and a deeply flawed foreign policy. Rather than providing the typical doomsday perspective, it offers realistic optimism about the expanding climate crisis, highlighting the convergence between the necessary steps to save the planet and what needs to be done to improve the lives of Americans.

The author’s discussion of the United States’s role in the climate crisis spans subjects as varied as the 17th-century forests of New England, the evolution of housework over 200 years, the American addiction to the automobile, the lettuce fields of California in the 1970s, and the Guano wars in 19th-century Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. This book will appeal to a wide range of readers, from the interested general public to students, academics, professionals, and other experts. The main section presents a clear and accessible survey of the economic, social, and political causes of the climate crisis, accompanied by potential solutions, while extensive appendixes offer in-depth and technical discussions.


  • A glossary of technical terms
  • 20 figures
  • A full bibliographical reference list
  • Inline citations of sources
Gar W. Lipow is an activist and independent journalist. His published works include writings on political economy of climate change for Grist, an online magazine, and a chapter on that subject to the forthcoming Praeger book The Business of Sustainability: Trends, Policies, Practices, and Stories of Success.


"Intelligent, stimulating and provocative. This book has something to teach everyone." —Denis Hayes, President of the Bullitt Foundation, Coordinator of the first Earth Day

"Most books on the climate crisis are gloomy affairs: they tell us that unless we go back to living in caves and eating twigs, human life is doomed. Gar Lipow's is another matter entirely—it shows how we can lead materially comfortable lives without snuffing ourselves out through the use of already existing technologies (and a major reduction in inequality along the way). It's rare that a nuts and bolts realism is so inspiring. The obstacles to climate salvation are political, not technological." —Doug Henwood, Editor of Left Business Observer

"A sharp, no-nonsense, and consistently insightful tour of the ways that inequality and injustice have shaped the climate crisis—making clear why the robust solutions are inevitably those that invest in rebuilding our fractured societies."—Naomi Klein, Author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine
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