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Science History Podcast

Aug 11, 2020

Why is it that decades after scientists discover problems of paramount importance, such as global climate change or lead pollution, those problems still persist? Why do corporations get away with producing products that harm human health or the environment? How do corporations shape our society, our politics, and even our psychology? With us to untangle these questions is my guest, Barbara Freese. Barbara is an author, energy policy advocate, and environmental attorney.  After earning a law degree from New York University in 1986 she returned to her home state of Minnesota and spent a dozen years enforcing the state’s environmental laws as an Assistant Attorney General. In the mid-1990s, she litigated the science of climate change against the coal industry. She became so interested in coal’s larger impact on the world that she dug deeper into the issue, and in 2003 published the book, Coal: A Human History. An updated edition of Coal was published by Basic Books in 2016. After writing Coal, she spent years working with and for nonprofit groups, particularly the Union of Concerned Scientists, where she was a senior policy advocate. Her work focused on pushing for state and national policies to protect the climate, on stopping the construction of new coal plants, and on closing old coal plants. The subject of today’s episode is Barbara’s latest book, Industrial-Strength Denial, published this year by the University of California Press.