Ross Gelbspan retired from daily journalism in 1992 after a 31-year career as a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Washington Post, The Village Voice and The Boston Globe. As special projects editor of the Globe, he conceived, directed and edited a series of articles that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.
In 1991 he published a series of articles in the Globe, followed by an investigative book, about FBI abuses during the 1980s. The book exposed the domestic aspect of the Iran-Contra scandal, documented a secret relationship between the FBI and the National Guard of El Salvador and detailed a campaign of surveillance, harassment and break-ins which led to the entry of the names of 100,000 law abiding political and religious activists in the FBI’s terrorism files. That same year, he wrote a series of articles which contributed to the closing down of an aging, unsafe nuclear power plant in western Massachusetts.
Prior to joining the Globe, he spent a month in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold war where he interviewed dissidents who had been jailed or exiled to Siberia for peaceful demonstrations and political activities. That series was published in the Village Voice in 1971.
In 1995, he co-authored an article on climate change and the spread of infectious disease which appeared in the Outlook Section of The Washington Post. His first major article on climate change, which appeared on the cover of the December, 1995 issue of Harper's Magazine, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. That article was based on his reporting which revealed that the coal industry was covertly funding a small handful of climate deniers to generate uncertainty about the threat among the public.
In 1997, he published a book on the global climate crisis titled: The Heat Is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth's Threatened Climate (Perseus Books). The book, which was published in three other languages, received national attention that summer when President Clinton told the press he was reading it.
The book received very positive reviews in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the science journal, Nature and elsewhere. It was excerpted in The Washington Post, the San Jose Mercury and other outlets.
In 2004, he published Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Have Fueled the Climate Crisis -- and What We Can Do to Avert Disaster. That book received the lead review in the Sunday New York Times Book Review which was written by Al Gore.
Gelbspan appeared in numerous radio and television interviews, including "Nightline," "All Things Considered" and "Talk of the Nation." He was invited to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in February, 1998, where he addressed government ministers and leaders of multi-national corporations. Between 1997 and 2002, he gave about 400 talks and published approximately 150 articles about the climate crisis.
In June, 1998, he published an article on solutions to the climate crisis in The Atlantic Monthly titled "A Good Climate for Investment". In November, 1998, he published an article on the domestic political battle over the climate issue in The Nation, and in May, 1999, he published an article in the Sunday Boston Globe on alternatives to international emissions trading. In addition to recent cover articles in Yes! Magazine, Conservation Matters and E-Magazine, as well as several op-ed articles, he published an article on a set of solutions strategies May, 2000 issue in The American Prospect titled, "Rx For A Planetary Fever." In January, 2001, he published an editorial in The Nation on the breakdown of the climate talks at the Hague. An article on the implications of a set of global solutions to climate change appeared in the Spring, 2001, issue of Sierra Magazine.
In the summer of 1998, he and the late Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment of Harvard Medical School, assembled a group of economists, energy company presidents and policy specialists to hammer out a set of strategies designed to dramatically accelerate the Kyoto process. They were invited to present those strategies at a conference in Buenos Aires in 1998. As a result of that presentation, the United Nations Development Programme invited them to mount a conference on those strategies in Bonn, Germany in June, 1999, during that round of climate negotiations.
The "strategies" are outlined on this website under the title, "Global Solution: Rewiring the World with Clean Energy." They have been endorsed by a number of large NGOs in India, Mexico, Germany, Bangladesh and elsewhere -- as well as by a number of economists, energy specialists and environmentalists both in the U.S. and abroad.
He presented these "solution" strategies in May, 2000, at a conference he keynoted in Cairo. (The conference was co-sponsored by UNEP and CEDARE, the Center for Environment and Development in the Arab Region and Europe). While in Cairo, he briefed directors and managers of Shell/Egypt.
In September, 2000, Gelbspan presented these strategies to a small group of Senators and Congressmen at a meeting in Washington. These strategies were received enthusiastically by a number of delegates and NGOs from the G-77 at the recent round of climate talks in The Hague, where they were disseminated by the late Anil Agarwal, founder of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi and a leader of the NGO community of the G-77.
In December, 2000, these strategies were presented to a new G-8 Task Force on Renewable Energy headed by Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, director of Shell, as well as a managing director of the World Bank.
The "solutions" strategies have been enthusiastically received by the then-Environmental Commissioner of the EU, Margot Wallstrom, a former British Ambassador to the UN, Sir Crispin Tickell, the UK's Chief Scientist, Sir David King, and a number of other officials
Over the course of his career, he worked at The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Washington Post, the Village Voice, Scripps Howard, where he was a national news editor, and The Boston Globe. He has also taught at the Columbia University School of Journalism.
In 1971, he spent a month in the Soviet Union interviewing Soviet dissidents and human rights advocates. His four-part series on the Soviet underground was reprinted in the Congressional Record. In 1974, he edited a book for Scripps-Howard on the Congressional Watergate Committee hearings.
In 1979, the Boston Globe hired Gelbspan as a senior editor. In his capacity as special projects editor, he conceived, directed and edited a series of articles on job discrimination against African-Americans in Boston-area corporations, universities, unions, newspapers and state and city government. The series won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.
Gelbspan received his B.A. at Kenyon College and did post-graduate study at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Kenyon College in 2012.
He is 74, married to Anne Gelbspan, a non-profit developer of housing for low-income families, and the father of two daughters, Thea, 38, and Joby, 36. He lives in Boston, MA.