mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth

For twenty years, Mark Hertsgaard investigated climate change for outlets including The New Yorker, NPR, Time, Vanity Fair and The Nation. But the full truth did not hit home until he became a father and, soon after, learned that climate change had arrived a century earlier than forecast, with impacts bound to worsen for decades to come. Mark’s daughter, Chiara, now six years old, is part of what he has dubbed “Generation Hot”–the two billion young peole worldwide who will spend the rest of their lives coping with mounting climate disruption.

HOT is a father’s cry against climate change, but most of the book focuses on solutions, offering a blueprint for how all of us–as parents, communities, companies and countries–can navigate this unavoidable new era. Combining reporting from across the nation and around the world with personal reflections on his daughter’s future, Hertsgaard provides pictures of how the next fifty years will look: Chicago’s climate transformed to resemble Houston’s; dwindling water supplies and crop yields at home and abroad; the re-design of New York and other cities against mega-storms and sea-level rise. Above all, he shows who is taking, wise creative precautions. For in the end, lHot is a book about how we’ll survive.



15 Responses to “HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth”

  • hamish wilson says:

    A great phrase of “ethical heroin” – maybe it’s not in the book, but it’s fabulous. Thanks!

  • Deb Christie says:

    Please get this book out in audiobook format soon! With all the hoopla about e-readers, folks are forgetting the millions of us who listen to audiobooks, readin more voluminously than visual readers. We can read while we exercise, drive our cars, garden, cook, clean and do laundry. Key to a good audiobook is a good reader. Computer-generated audiobooks are not good listening.

  • […] scenario from “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth” may be familiar to amateur climatologists and devotees of Al Gore. But Mark Hertsgaard’s grim […]

  • Jackson Davis says:

    Dear Mark,

    Having read your recent article in The Nation magazine, I purchased a copy of Hot, and it blew my mind. Having recently retired and being the grandparent of three grandchildren (the most recent one haviing been born just one week ago), I am deeply concerned about the future for them as well as for all of us.

    I took great interest in your focus in the book on fairy tales and came up with the idea of sponsoring a contest to write children’s stories about the adaptation to, as well as mitigation of, the effects of climate change now and in the future. Do you think it’s a good idea? And, the “story of climate change” has to be rapidly incorporated into our curriculum in every subject, pre-K through Doctorate!

    Also, having been involved in environmental issues since the first Earth Day in 1970, when I served as Coordinator for Earth Day events in the Capital District (Albany, Schenectady and Troy) of New York State, I plan to spread the word in this region about the prospects of climate change and the dangers as well as the opportunities it presents to our citizens, businesses and other organizations.

    Since the impacts here are projected to be relatively less than in other parts of the country, I feel that a focus on potential opportunities would be best, especially considering the present economic conditions. By focusing on “jobs, jobs, jobs,” I feel we can draw interest in this issue even among the most skeptical of our citizens. I would appreciate any thoughts you or any of your readers have on this matter, as well as any contacts with persons and/or organizations that are focusing on this approach.

  • j smith says:

    Please go on 60 Minutes to the White House + United Nations + Senate + House of Representatives!

  • Sailrick says:

    Thanks for the work you do. There is something I want to comment on. I just watched your interview at Democracy Now. Very good, but when discussing energy alternatives you left out probably our most valuable renewable energy technology, solar thermal power with heat storage, also called concentrating solar power -CSP. I agree on the value of wind power, but many in America don’t even know what CSP is, which is a shame. CSP with molten salt heat storage can provide base load power, not at full power 24 hours a day like coal or nuclear, but steady power that is also dispatchable. It can follow the load, helping to intergrate more intermittent PV solar and wind into the grid. Coal and nuclear base load plants cannot follow the load. CSP can

    From the National Renewable Energy Lab
    Here’s a how a CSP plant with 3.5 hours heat storage on typical summer day in Nevada would run.

    The plant would start saving heat at sunrise. A few hours later, it would start generating electricity and continue storing heat in the salt. By 1pm when the sun peaks, it would be at full rated power, say 1250 MW. It would continue to put out at least it’s full rated power, while increasing output and peaking at about 3,000 MW at 5pm, exactly when demand in the grid peaks in the southwest. It would continue putting out steady but declining power until midnight. No fluctuation when clouds pass by.
    Cloudy periods, which are rare in the southwest can be planned for by the plant manager and utility, from weather forecasts. In the daytime in what the NREL calls Premium Solar Resource areas, there is sunshine all but about 4% of the time.

    3.5 hours heat storage means enough to provide 3.5 hours at full rated power, without any input from the sun.

    The first plant with molten salt heat storage in the U.S. is being built in Arizona. It will have 6 hours heat storage.

    In the winter there is less solar resource due to the angle of the sun mostly, but demand falls even faster than output in non summer months. Air conditioning is the biggest demand.

    HVDC tranmission lines would enable solar thermal in this area to feed power into other regions.

    NREL says there is about 1,000 GW potential in the southwest, only including carefully selected areas that don’t infringe on anything of man, parks, rivers, lakes, roads, habitation, sensitive areas of the desert, and only flat land. Arizona alone has 285 GW potential and New Mexico 225 GW, California 98 GW and so on.
    West Texas, Utah, Nevada, Colorado also have very large resources.

    The 285 GW potential for Arizona is, by my back of the envelope calculations, equivalent to at least 120 Nuclear plants of 1 GW each, adjusting for capacity factors. CSP with salt heat storage can have capacity factors from about 40-70%.
    Not bad for solar. The higher numbers are for power tower type plants, since they run at higher temperatures, and are more efficient. Solar trough plants can be up to 50%, and are cheaper to build. Nuclear is 85-90%

    “RDI Consulting performed a similar analysis for Southern California Edison’s (SCE) load for a hypothetical solar power plant with storage located in the Mojave Desert. Again, the results are similar. Only a few hours of storage are needed before the solar plant can dramatically reduce the need for back-up capacity in the market.”

    . Look up Desertrec if you aren’t familiar with it. A huge plan to build solar thermal plants, mostly in northern Africa, that would provide power to Europe, North Africa and the Mid-East and also provide hot water as well as desalinated sea water in areas nearer plants.

  • Sailrick says:

    One company has what they call disruptive technology for solar thermal, that would allow it to operate at 800C-900C rather than the 450C of current designs. It also promises heat storage at that higher temperature.
    This doubles the power and efficiency of solar thermal.


    Breaking the heat barrier: SHEC Energy’s red hot technology
    CSP Today

  • […] you can do: The article in Newsweek is a good intro. Also recommended are Hot: Living through the next fifty years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard, and Eaarth: Making a life on a tough new planetby Bill […]

  • […] Now!, John Perkins (author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman), Mark Hertsgaard (author of Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth), and a full lineup of other inspirational speakers making an […]

  • Cass Martinez says:

    I would like Mark to look at the new Texas/Louisiana LNG project at Sabine Pass on the Gulf. It looks wired for environmental consequences and federal bailout similar to Army Corps of Engineers/Katrina/New Orleans.

    JP Morgan is the center point; it purchased 40 bcf of LNG storage. The plan to import and re-export LNG is in motion and involves Shell (Brunei), Chevron (Quatar), Bechtel, Halliburton, Mitsubishi, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, and Zachry and Hastings Funds.

    LNG World News is my online source for the information. But it appears to me that the goal of the project is monopoly control of world LNG supply and price, the creation of the next market bubble through credit default swaps and all the other wagers, and a project “too big to fail”, that is, invisibly underwritten by the federal government in every aspect.

    Only a Mark Hertsgaard can track this hydra (see Australia LNG project) and write about it.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for this suggestion. I’m completely booked with other assignments at the moment, but I’ll consider this one down the road and hope to look into it on my next visit to New Orleans.

  • […] His new book is Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth. […]

  • […] found the book Hot, Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard to be much more engaging because the author personalized the same distressing […]

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About Mark

Independent journalist Mark Hertsgaard is the author of seven books that have been translated into sixteen languages, including Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden; HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth; and A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. He has reported from twenty-five countries about politics, culture and the environment for leading outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Time, Mother Jones, NPR, the BBC and The Nation, where is the environment correspondent. He lives in San Francisco.