8 Best Books About Climate Change Update 05/2022

There are a lot of things you want to learn about climate change, but where do you start? A lot of scientists think we live in the Anthropocene Epoch, which means we have had an effect on Earth’s geology and ecosystems through our activities and habits. As the Earth’s temperature rises and natural disasters happen more and more often, the environment is quickly speeding toward a point from which we can’t go back. When you know all these things, it’s just the start. In the next step, you’ll want to look at the social and political implications of those facts. For example, climate change has a big impact on Native people and people of color, but it doesn’t have the same effect on everyone else.

We’ve put together a list of 15 of the most important books about climate change to get you started. Some of them are old, some are new, but all are urgently clear-eyed about the problems facing our planet. It’s not an encyclopedic survey, but it’s a good syllabus for anyone who wants to learn more. After reading these books, you’ll be ready to call your representatives, join the Sunrise Movement, and be a force for change in your neighborhood.

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, by Elizabeth Kolbert

“The Sixth Extinction” won a Pulitzer Prize, and the author is back with another sobering look at our Anthropocene Epoch. This time, the book isn’t about all of the calamities that lie ahead but about scientists’ pioneering efforts to turn back time and stop the doomsday clock. Kolbert describes the people in Under a White Sky as “people trying to solve problems that were made by people trying to solve problems.” She looks at human interventions in nature, like the storied redirection of the Chicago River, and the urgent need for more intervention to correct our mistake. From the Great Lakes to the Great Barrier Reef, she talks about how scientists are working on new ways to turn carbon dioxide into stone and shoot diamonds in the sky. Kolbert’s urgent, well-researched book has been praised by everyone from Barack Obama to Al Gore. It asks if our ingenuity can outrun our hubris and save us from ourselves.

Losing Earth: A Recent History, by Nathaniel Rich

Between 1979 and 1989, Losing Earth looks at the rise of political awareness about global warming, as well as the many failures of policymakers to deal with the growing crisis. Instead, as Rich explains in great detail, policymakers sided with profit-hungry corporations, who launched a huge campaign of disinformation and denial that still shapes our political life today. Rich’s book is about how we lost a decade in the fight against climate change. Rich says that we still have time to save our planet. To see if you agree with him, read Losing Earth, which tells an amazing story of human greed and human folly.

Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming, by McKenzie Funk

What about the money?

You’ve read about the science of climate change, but what about the money? Six years after writing this book, Funk went around the world talking to people who were making a lot of money because of climate change, like Israeli businessmen who made their own snow and Dutch architects who built floating cities. There is a lot of money to be made in the climate crisis, but only a small group of people are making the most money. Funk shows the greedy business practices of environmental tycoons who want to keep society on life support, which proves that the conventional wisdom is correct: if you’re not sure what to do, go with the money.

Our House Is on Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet, by Jeanette Winter

Climate change can be hard to talk about with kids. This picture book, for kids between the ages of three and eight, is both inspiring and educational. It tells the story of Greta Thunberg’s environmental awakening, from how she learned about the climate crisis in school to how she took action for change. The book asks its young readers what they can do to be a force for change, while also celebrating the fact that children can be leaders. Share it with the kids you care about so you can start a very important talk.

Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security, by Todd Miller

In this book, Miller travels the world to show how many people have been forced out of their homes by climate disasters, which has led to a new wave of climate refugees. Miller makes a powerful connection between climate displacement and border militarization by drawing on a lot of research and statements from military officials to show how Homeland Security is trying to make climate asylum seekers criminal. The World Bank says that by 2050, more than one billion people will be forced to flee their homes because of climate change. If our policymakers don’t change their ways, those refugees will be pitted against the cruel, racist, and profitable surveillance states that are shown so clearly in Storming the Wall.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, by David Wallace-Wells

The Uninhabitable Earth is not a book about the science of warming. It is a book about what warming means for the way we live on this planet. The Uninhabitable Earth is both visceral and alarming. It turns scientific predictions into lyrically-rendered realities, with Wallace-Wells painting grim portraits of what life will be like at each level of warming. Climate displacement, food insecurity, geopolitical war, global diseases, and natural disasters are some of the things he thinks will happen in the future. Wallace-Wells says that the doom he predicts is terrifying, merciless, and entirely our own fault. Wallace-Wells says it’s “worse, much worse, than you think.” This book is a wake-up call.

Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, by George Marshall

When you’ve been in a heated debate with someone who doesn’t believe in climate change, or when you’ve wondered why policymakers aren’t moving on climate change even though there is a lot of scientific evidence, this book is for you. In Don’t Even Think About It, Marshall, the founder of the Climate Outreach and Information Network, talks about how our psychology stops us from taking real action. He says that our tribalism prevents us from acting in our own best interests as a group. He also proposes a new way for the environmental movement to communicate with people, one that can win over even the most hard-core skeptics. Keep this shrewd and practical book close to you when you have your next Thanksgiving with your family.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken

One hundred cutting-edge technologies that can cut down on the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the air are highlighted in this huge book. They were written by hundreds of experts and written in a way that is easy for people to understand. They offer both big-picture solutions (like educating women in poorer countries) and small-scale ones (like giving money to charities) (swapping LED light bulbs into your light fixtures). Drawdown shows that it’s possible to imagine a better future, even though it will take a lot of change in policy and a lot of money.

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