mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


Exxon Knew, Say New Investigative Reports

Guest hosting KALW public radio’s “Your Call” program, I interview journalists from the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate News whose separate investigations revealed that ExxonMobil knew, from its own scientists, by the mid-1980s that climate change was real, dangerous and caused by burning carbon-based fuels. But the oil giant allegedly denied the truth to protect its profits. Hear how the journalists got one of the most important climate stories ever reported:… Read more


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Shell’s Arctic Retreat and Climate Activism

Think Shell’s retreat from oil drilling in the Arctic was just a function of low current oil prices? That’s how most mainstream media reports framed it. Do they have any real reporters on the business beat any more? By its own admission, Shell was also motivated by politics. Read my Daily Beast review of Wen Stephenson’s impassioned, beautifully written new book on the emerging climate justice movement to see how activism helped force Shell’s hand:… Read more

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Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde: Obama’s Two-Faced Climate Policy

Will the real Barack Obama please stand up? Like the fictional Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Obama from the day he was first elected president has repeatedly said and done impressive things about climate change one day only to turn around and say and do appalling things the next…. Read more

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2 Degrees Is Too Much, Says Blockbuster Hansen study

Sea level rise could make New York and other coastal cities uninhabitable in our children’s lifetimes, according to a blockbuster new study released this week by James Hansen, long one of the world’s foremost climate scientists, as I reported today in an exclusive for The Daily Beast:… 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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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.

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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.