mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


Keystone, Obama and the US Petro-state

Why is President Obama finding it so hard to announce a decision on Keystone XL? Because, I argue in Bloomberg Businessweek, Mr. Obama presides over a petro-state, a country whose political economy has been dominated by oil so profoundly and for so long that it ranks as an OPEC nation in all but name. The only way Obama (or any US president) can successfully stand up to Big Oil is if he is pushed by a strong, insistent popular movement.

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2 Responses to “Keystone, Obama and the US Petro-state”

  • Amie Ziner says:

    I’m about to buy your book HOT. I think the premise that climate change is here, and we have to deal with what is really happening instead of hand-wringing, is vitally important. In my own small way, I am trying to teach about what suburban homeowners can do -realistically- to reduce carbon footprint.

    My family got a solar roof, a plug-in hybrid car that only needs gas every 6 weeks. We have a water barrel for rain collection, because even here in the NE, by August the reservoirs are very low and water gets rationed.

    I’m starting a community garden this year at the place where I work, and hope that as many as 50 families will take the understanding garnered while making this garden, home with them, and grow at least some of their own food.

    I am also organizing a Green Fair on Earth Day at the Y. I still don’t know if there will be lots of people in attendance, or just a few, but getting the word out to people living in one of the most resource-intensive communities that exist – the ‘burbs- has to start somewhere.

    I get disheartened, and then I read an article like the one you wrote on soil carbon sequestration, and I think, “Yes! I want everyone to understand this!” It keeps me going, imparting whatever I know about living ‘greener’; it’s hard-won personal understanding.

    I’m grateful for your educated and perceptive writing. Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words and especially for all the actions you are taking to alert others to the challenges and opportunities that climate change presents. Our only hope, I think, is to get as many people as we can to understand what is happening and, above all, to join the movement to change things. The individual lifestyle changes you outline have many benefits and are an excellent place to begin getting involved. But in the end what is decisive is taking political action that will lead to fundamental reforms in government and corporate behavior. That’s what a number of us are pursuing through the group, Climate Parents, and I invite you to check us out, but whatever group you join–the anti-Keystone pipeline work of and Friends of the EArth is impressive–it’s important to work with others for political as well as lifestyle changes.

      Thanks again for writing and for all that you are doing.

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Latest Book


Hertsgaard’s latest book, HOT, describes how his five year old daughter and the rest of Generation Hot can cope with the massive climate impacts that are now inevitable. Packed with eyewitness reporting on existing solutions for "avoiding the unmanageable and managing the unavoidable," HOT shows how we all must think--and act--differently now in the fight against climate change. Read more

Pick up your copy at: | Barnes & Noble

About Mark

Called "one of America’s finest reporters" by Barbara Ehrenreich, Mark Hertsgaard is the author of six books that have been translated into sixteen languages, including Earth Odyssey and On Bended Knee. He has covered climate change, politics and the media for leading media outlets around the world, including Vanity Fair, The Nation, Time, The New Yorker, NPR, L’espresso, Die Zeit and Le Monde Diplomatique.