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Mark Hertsgaard speaks on climate change

Were you born after June of 1988? Then, according to author and environmental journalist Mark Hertsgaard, you are a member of Generation Hot.

Hot: Living through the next fifty years on Earth, puts a new perspective on climate change. (Contributed Photo)

Hertsgaard, the author of Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth, spoke at the 25th Edward Lamb Peace Lecture at Bowling Green State University on March 28 in the Bowen Thompson Student Union Theater.  He discussed climate change, the subject of his latest book.

Hertsgaard coined the term “Generation Hot” using the date in 1988 that NASA scientist James Hansen warned the U.S. Senate about global warming. There are nearly 2 billion people around the world who were born after June of 1988.

“You all are fated to spend the rest of your lives coping with the hottest climate that our civilization has ever known,” he said to the audience of the lecture.

Hot was released Jan. 19 and has received rave reviews from various publications such as The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and The Boston Globe.

Hertsgaard said he got the idea for the book following an interview with Sir David King in London in October 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.  Hertsgaard said King is the most influential person on climate change, besides former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

After the interview, Hertsgaard was walking through London and heard children’s voices in a park, which reminded him that he was a father, and that his daughter Chiara would have to live through climate change.  He was determined to use his journalistic abilities to find out what it would take to survive.  Chiara was the inspiration for Hot.

Hertsgaard said that when he first began his research, climate change was said to

Hertsgaard with daughter Chiara, the inspiration for his book. (Contributed Photo)

be a very dangerous but very distant problem, and it was not expected to hit until the year 2100.  Scientists also thought it was a preventable problem.  Climate change ended up arriving 100 years earlier than expected because the Earth was more sensitive to greenhouse gases than scientists originally thought.

Hertsgaard also said many people use the terms “global warming” and “climate change” interchangeably, when they actually refer to two different things.  Global warming is the rise in temperature caused by excess greenhouse gases, he said.  This temperature change causes climate change which includes “extreme weather” such as an increase in precipitation or a stronger drought.  Even if people immediately stopped everything that is causing climate change, temperatures would still continue to rise for another 50 years, he said.

In the United States, many people do not believe that climate change is happening and think it is one big hoax.  Hertsgaard said this mindset only occurs in the U.S., and the Republicans are the single political party in the world that does not believe in it.  Climate change is as controversial as gravity in the scientific community.

“Man-made climate change is happening now, and it’s dangerous,” he said.

The United States is the No. 1 climate polluter, yet it does not have a global climate treaty.  According to Hertsgaard, the U.S. would if “Washington wasn’t dragging their feet.”  The Netherlands has a 200 year plan to cope with climate change.

Hertsgaard explained that the industrial countries started the

Mark Hertsgaard speaking at the Edward Lamb Peace Lecture at BGSU. (Photo by Hannah Mingus)

problem, and now everyone has to pay.  Capitalism is environmentally blind and doesn’t think long term which is the government’s job, he said.

The audience of Hertsgaard’s lecture mainly consisted of Bowling Green students, who were members of Generation Hot.   

Sophomore Meghan Duran-Whitmore attended the lecture as part of her international health class. She said she learned the difference between global warming and climate change. She also left feeling angry at prior generations. 

“I’m mad at the people before Generation Hot,” she said. “They didn’t have any respect for the people coming after them.  They just did what they wanted, and now we have to pay.”

According to the New York Times, the Environmental Protection Agency enforced its first greenhouse gas regulations on Jan. 2, 2011.  These new laws will mainly focus on building new facilities and modifying already existing plants.  In the next 10 years, the regulations will  “impose efficiency and emissions requirements on nearly every industry and every region.”

EPA’s report on climate change, says the “eight warmest years on record have all occurred since 2001, with the warmest year being 2005.”

Hertsgaard ended his lecture, by offering a bit of hope to the audience, especially to the members of Generation Hot.

“I am hopeful but only because I insist on being hopeful,” he said.  “Hope is faith.  Hope is believing.  Hope is an active verb.  Hope is a choice to believe that you can make something different, even when it looks dark.  …I am hopeful because when I look out to the members of Generation Hot I see so much potential.”

Listen to a clip from Hertsgaard’s lecture at BGSU

For more on the book:


Book Reviews: (Courtesy of

“Passionate and somber…[HOT’s] urgent message is one that citizens and governments cannot afford to ignore.” —Boston Globe

“Informative and vividly reported book…passionate.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Climate change is well underway, writes Hertsgaard, and we must begin to adapt to it even as we work to stop it….The author’s stated goal is to make readers feel hopeful so that they will act, but he is candid about his own lapses into despair. . . . Hopefully, this book will prompt readers to action. Starkly clear and of utmost importance.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“In Hot, one of America’s finest journalists confronts one of the world’s most urgent problems. Hertsgaard cuts through the denial and disinformation about climate change, offering a clear, tough-minded view of our predicament. More important, he shows that the worst harms of global warming are not inevitable and outlines the steps that can help to avert disaster. Hot bravely takes aim at perhaps the greatest climate threat of all: apathy.” —Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

“I know what you’re thinking: The problem is so massive I can’t bear to read any more about it. But you’re wrong. Mark Hertsgaard not only makes the workings of climate change clear, vivid and comprehensible but gives us some reasons for hope. Some of the ways to fight or adapt to global warming are simpler—and more unexpected—than you would think, and some of the places where these lessons are being applied you never would have guessed. Hot is a lively, personal, very human piece of reportage about an issue that will ever more be at the very center of our lives.” —Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost

“Like the fairy tales that Mark reads to his daughter, Chiara, Hot is full of out-sized challenges and glimmers of hope. In this brilliant postcard from the year 2060, Mark explores a world that will be defined, for better or worse, by decisions made today as we conduct a massive planetary science experiment—one that future generations will grade us on.” —Terry Tamminen, Secretary of the California EPA for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger “Passionate and somber…[HOT’s] urgent message is one that citizens and governments cannot afford to ignore.” —Boston Globe

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