It’s been clear for a long time now that when it comes to climate change, we are pretty much screwed. After the 2016 presidential election … well, stronger language is required. We are well and truly fucked. The new administration … does not care. Is the situation hopeless, though? No. The planet will change, our lives and our descendants’ lives will change, but there is much to do to minimize the damage and adapt to the new reality. We can start by educating ourselves. Below is a list of books that take on the issue of climate change in various ways: some books are about how we got here and others are about what to expect next and what we can do about it. This list is my starting place — please add your recommendations in the comments!
Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made, Gaia Vince. Vince travels the world to see what extraordinary things ordinary people are doing to adapt and innovate to a changing climate. Part science, part travelogue.
Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, Preeti Simran Sethi. Journalist Simran Sethi explores the cultural importance of certain foods and how we are in danger of losing them. About monocultures and the dangers of an increasingly standardized diet.
Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science, Philippe Squarzoni. Squarzoni offers an explanation of global warming and climate change in graphic novel form. An accessible approach to learning about the science.
Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, George Marshall. An explanation of why people reject the science behind climate change and why even when they accept it, they do nothing about it. An exploration of psychology and science both.
Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, Bill McKibben. Check out all of McKibben’s many books on the environment and climate change. Eaarth describes what climate change will do to us and the ways we will need to radically change our lives to adapt.
Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment, Wenonah Hauter. On the dangers of fracking to the environment and to human health. The book also explores the history of fracking and the technologies that make it possible.
The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, Amitav Ghosh. Ghosh writes on the inability of human beings to grasp the significance and meaning of climate change and argues for the importance of fiction in helping us understand our predicament.
Making Peace with the Earth, Vandana Shiva. On the environmental impact of corporate globalization. Shiva argues for a shift in our thinking toward an earth-centered politics and economics.
Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, Naomi Oreskes. On how a group of scientists and advisors spread misinformation and doubt about a range of scientific subjects. A good explanation of how we got to where we are today.
Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World, Wangari Maathai. A religious and spiritual call for a closer connection with the earth. Maathai writes about helping women in Kenya plant and sustain trees and find a sense of empowerment and how we can find our own commitment to the environment.
The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature, David Suzuki. Suzuki asks what humans really need to find fulfilling, meaningful lives. He offers concrete suggestions for creating an ecologically sustainable future and meeting humans’ most fundamental needs.
Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, Mark Lynas. A description of what we should expect to happen to the planet as the temperatures rise.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert. Read all of Kolbert’s writing on the climate. This book describes mass extinctions from the past and shows how the on-going sixth extinction is caused by humans.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate, Naomi Klein. About the intersection of climate and capitalism and how we can’t look to capitalism for answers to our environmental crisis but need to shake up the system entirely.
What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Climate Justice, Wen Stephenson. Stephenson argues that what we need to deal with the climate crisis is not so much environmentalism but a struggle for human rights and social justice. He tells his own story and the stories of those on the front lines of that struggle.