A former Environmental Protection Agency attorney delivers an impassioned plea to fight pollution and climate change.

Both a memoir and an informed commentary, this debut book addresses pollution and climate change from an insider’s perspective. Emory, who spent much of his legal career working for the EPA, weaves together his personal story with observations that demonstrate why, when compared with Europe, the United States is largely lacking in its use of renewable energy and its response to climate change. The volume begins with something of a historical overview of environmental abuses and regulations. It also provides a laudatory look at the influential Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring (1962), a book that “helped to move” the U.S. government from environmental “promoter to regulator” with the creation of the EPA in 1970. Emory’s real awakening to pollution came as a Maryland legislator when he “encountered frightful cases of toxic-waste dumping.” His battle against pollution in his state led to the author’s being hired by the EPA in 1980. Unfortunately, Emory was witness to political power plays inside and outside the agency; in 1993, he bravely filed a whistleblower suit against the EPA and was consequently demoted. The author relates this narrative with candor and selflessness, offering a behind-the-scenes peek at the ugly inner workings of the federal government. Still, he managed to redirect his career to work internationally on environmental issues. He and his wife flourished in France and Germany; living in Europe afforded Emory the opportunity to witness that continent’s advanced view of environmental regulation. The author writes eloquently and passionately about pollution and climate change throughout the book, showing how they converge. In the closing chapter, he provides an authoritative discussion of two powerful environmental tools: “adaptation” and “mitigation.” While lamenting the fact that the EPA was “deconstructed” in 2017, Emory optimistically sees hope for combating climate change in the future: “While my generation still does too little, younger generations, who are more thoughtful and alert now see this danger and are marching in demonstrations for immediate action.”

Timely and engaging; a heroic environmental story well told. (bibliography)