mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


Cadillac Desert and Deadbeat Dams book review

If you read only one book about the drought now afflicting California and much of the American West, make it Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert, I argue in this review for The Daily Beast. But augment it with Daniel P. Beard’s Deadbeat Dams, which fiercely updates Reisner’s 1993 classic with fascinating insider details:… Read more


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Joking About Torture–With US Tax Dollars

Joking About Torture? Really? Yes. US taxpayers, via president Obama, are buying Egypt’s military junta new weapons even as the generals smirk, on secret tapes, about torture and admit that they came to power not in the popular “revolution” they claimed but rather via an old fashioned military coup–which should preclude military aid under US law. Details in my latest article for The Daily Beast:… Read more

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Coal, Like Tobacco, Is On The Way Out

Coal is the tobacco of our time, and its time is passing. Like smoking cigarettes, burning coal is deadly to individuals and society alike. The industry is a “dead man walking,” but coal still supplies most of the world’s electricity. So coal must be phased out both quickly and carefully, I argue in this piece for The Nation:… Read more

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How the Rich Stole Jazz Fest

New Orleans remains the greatest city in America, perhaps the world, for music. The annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival offers an unparalleled excellence and diversity of performers, but locals complain that ever-increasing ticket prices put the party off limits to most New Orleans residents, I report in The Daily Beast:… Read more

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How Growers Gamed California’s Drought

Some of California’s wealthiest agribusiness men are literally “smiling all the way to the bank,” despite the record drought now entering its fourth year. Agriculture uses a staggering 80 percent of California’s developed water, yet Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory water restrictions, the first in state history, targeted only urban and suburban users. What’s really needed, water experts say, is to price this precious commodity realistically, I report in The Daily Beast:… Read more

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Jerry Brown’s Climate Problem

Jerry Brown has done more to fight climate change than perhaps any other elected official in the US. But can the California governor truly be a world class climate champion if he doesn’t reject fracking, especially now that science says we have to leave at least two-thirds of the earth’s known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to avoid climate catastrophe? One day before activists pressed Brown on these questions at a “March for Real Climate Leadership in Oakland,” the Los Angeles Times published my op-ed:… Read more

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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

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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.