mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


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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Soon No Drinking Water in Sao Paolo?

Will Sao Paolo, Brazil, with its 20 million inhabitants become the world’s first mega-city to run out of water? That’s among the key questions I discuss in this Global Post news analysis previewing 2015, a year that nevertheless could prove a turning point in the fight to preserve a livable… Read more

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Happy Friday! In 3 Minutes We All Die

The Nobel Laureate scientists at the Doomsday clock say that “failed political leadership” on climate change and nuclear weapons “endangers every person on Earth,” I report in The Nation:… Read more

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World Exclusive: Greenpeace ‘Fesses Up

Greenpeace provides Peruvian authorities with the names of four of the activists who vandalized the Nazca Lines World Heritage Site during the December 2014 UN climate talks in Lima, an action that outraged the people and government of Peru, shocked Greenpeace’s supporters, and gave the activist group its worst PR black eye in its 40 years of high-visibility protest. I broke the story first in Businessweek: I also discussed the story on the national radio program, The World:… Read more

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Climate Superpowers Setting Carbon Price: That’s A Game Changer

Nearly everyone agrees that the U.S.-China climate announcement is a big deal, but most observers have overlooked what truly makes it a game-changer: if the world’s two climate change superpowers limit their greenhouse gas emissions, it will have the economic effect of putting a de facto price on carbon. The resulting increase in the market price of oil, coal, natural gas, and other carbon-based fuels really could change everything. But this will only happen if the two superpowers make good on their promises: if the U.S. refrains from pursuing such carbon-intensive projects as the Keystone XL oil pipeline and China indeed peaks its coal consumption by 2020, as the energy plan released by the State Council on November 19 forecast. It’s Economics 101: limit the supply of a… Read more

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Latest Book


By now, almost everyone knows what Edward Snowden did: leak top secret documents revealing that the US government was spying on hundreds of millions of people around the world. But if you want to know why Snowden did it, the way he did it, you need to know the stories of two other men.

The first is Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on the very same surveillance ten years before Snowden did and got crushed. The other is The Third Man, a former senior Pentagon official who comes forward in this book for the first time to describe how his superiors repeatedly broke the law to punish Drake—and unwittingly taught Snowden how to evade their clutches.

Pick up your copy at: | Barnes & Noble

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.