Climate Change Positivity: your book recommendations!
22 AUGUST '22
Words by Lucia Peirone - Torti
Photo by Lilartsy
The climate debate needs to move beyond fear at rising sea levels and pollution towards a more solutions-based view. We should not be telling a generation of children that their future is unavoidably broken. Change is possible. The climate crisis is an urgent, yet utterly solvable issue. A lot of people are talking about climate change, but making sense of it all can be hard. Perhaps you’re wondering how it causes extreme weather events. Maybe you want to become an environmental activist and don’t know where to start. Or, you’re curious about the science behind climate change solutions. Our books should reflect that, and while it's a huge issue that should be treated seriously, the best stories are those that are enjoyable to experience. No matter your intent, this list of books will give you a better understanding of climate change, its effects on us and the environment, and how we can fight it.
Some of the books on our list talk about climate change more generally, like Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming, or This changes everything: Capitalism vs the Climate. Others examine the climate crisis with a more narrow lens, such as All we can save: truth, courage, and solutions for the climate crisis, As long as grass grows, the indigenous fight for environmental justice and Our house is on fire: Greta Thunberg’s call to save the planet.
DRAWDOWN: THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE PLAN EVER PROPOSED TO REVERSE GLOBAL WARMING, by PAUL HAWKEN.
Edited by Paul Hawken, this book is a collection of solutions written by international researchers, professors, and scientists. The book details one hundred realistic actionable initiatives that can enhance human health, security, and prosperity for everyone. This includes the use of clean energy, education for girls in lower-income communities, and land-use practices that pull carbon out of the air.
The book offers hope as Hawken believes that global warming will slow down significantly within the next thirty years if the proposed solutions are implemented on a global scale.
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: CAPITALISM VS THE CLIMATE, by NAOMI KLEIN.
This Changes Everything asks readers to look at capitalism, rather than carbon, as the cause of climate change.
At some point in our lives, we’ve heard that eliminating the use of fossil fuel is impossible, and that humans are too selfish to take drastic action against climate change. Klein debunks these assumptions and provides examples of how we are succeeding. In the book, you’ll learn why our current economic system has failed and why we need to create something better for the sake of our planet.
THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH: LIFE AFTER WARMING, by DAVID WALLACE-WELLS.
In a grim look at the climate crisis, author David Wallace-Wells illustrates how rising sea levels only scratch the surface of the world’s climate troubles. We’ll also experience food shortages, year-round wildfires, refugee crises, and floods. Without drastic action, Wallace-Wells explains that some of our planet may become uninhabitable.
This will transform our politics, culture, relationship to technology, and even our sense of history. This book shows the bleak reality of climate change and what will happen if we don’t act now.
THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY, by ELIZABETH KOLBERT.
There have been five mass extinctions throughout Earth’s history. Scientists are currently monitoring the sixth one which would be more devastating than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. But instead of an asteroid, humans will be held responsible.
In this book, New York Times writer Elizabeth Kolber, compiles research from different disciplines and details how many species are endangered or already extinct due to human actions. By sharing these occurrences, this book shows us that the sixth extinction is happening right before our eyes and will be humanity’s greatest legacy. In doing so, it forces readers to reflect on what it means to be human.
THE STORY OF MORE: HOW WE GOT TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND WHERE TO GO FROM HERE, by HOPE JAHREN.
Author and award-winning geobiologist, Hope Jahren, pens an open letter to humanity about the growing climate crisis. In the letter, Jahren praises humankind’s ambitious spirit, which has resulted in great accomplishments like the taming of wild crops, curing of diseases, and journeys to the moon. But she also explains how our key inventions and quest for more has resulted in excess, which is warming our planet. Providing a glimmer of hope, Jahren shares the tools that can help us fight climate change.
The Story of More provides a great introduction on how climate change is linked to human consumption.
ALL WE CAN SAVE: TRUTH, COURAGE, AND SOLUTIONS FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS, by AYANA ELIZABETH JOHNSON and KATHARINE KEEBLE WILKINSON.
Edited by climate leaders, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Keeble Wilkinson, this book highlights a growing movement in the climate change conversation: feminine leadership that is more faithfully feminist, compassionate, and creative. To change our planet’s trajectory, Johnson and Wilkinson argue that we must listen to women and make room for their thoughts and ideas. Their expertise offers diverse insights and solutions to the climate crisis.
All We Can Save gathers some of the United States most insightful female voices – ranging from scientists, farmers, and climate activists, to produce a more inclusive, nuanced, and solution-oriented conversation about climate change. Merging essays with poetry and art, the book discusses why opening up the conversation to everyone can wield a positive impact on our natural world and future generations.
AS LONG AS GRASS GROWS: THE INDIGENOUS FIGHT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, FROM COLONIZATION TO STANDING ROCK, by DINA GILIO-WHITAKER.
Indigenous researcher and activist Dina Gilio-Whittaker analyzes climate change through a unique, but often ignored lens of “Indigenized environmental justice.The book highlights the tense history between Indigenous Peoples, government, and corporate entities through treaty violations, food and water security, and protection of sacred sites. It also delves into the 2016 Standing Rock protest, highlighting how little most know about the historical tensions between Indigenous Peoples and environmental activism.
Throughout As Long as Grass Grows, Gilio-Whitaker urges environmentalists to look at the history of Indigenous resistance for wisdom and inspiration as we continue to fight climate change together.
OUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE: GRETA THUNBERG’S CALL TO SAVE THE PLANET, by NAOMI ORESKES AND ERIK M. CONWAY.
This picture book, created by Jeanette Winter, follows sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg’s meteoric rise from lone protestor to world-renowned climate activist. In the book, we follow Thunberg’s journey of how she learned about climate change, compelling her to skip school every Friday to protest and demand change outside the Swedish Parliament. Winter also illustrates how the protests have transformed into a worldwide climate movement. Our House Is on Fire shows how the biggest changes can come from young people.
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We think these books will definitely motivate you to make a difference on nurturing the health, diversity, and sustainability of the planet we call home. However, one conclusion common to all these timely and important books is that there are no silver bullets. The enormity of the task before us demands combined local, global, and individual effort; from simply imagining our daily lives in a vibrant, low-carbon world, to creating laws that punish abuse of natural resources, this is a call to arms for everyone: paradigm shifts don’t come easily. With that being said, many other titles deserve a place on this list and it will keep growing – a welcome sign of interest in this most existential of crises.
Photo by Jess Bailey
We’ll keep adding suggestions, and hope you’ll join the conversation by sharing your own favourites in the field.