Updated: Apr 27
It’s hard to escape the topic and for good reason.
There’s a fast-growing pool of literature on the subject.
Journalists are tackling the issue. Novelists are taking a crack at the problem. Researchers are sharing their expertise.
There’s a lot out there, and it’s hard to know where to begin.
I went through some of the anticipated books of 2021, as well as added a few from 2020 and 2019, and compiled this group of 10 books on the climate crisis to get started.
Maybe you’ve reached the point in these COVID-19 times where you don’t want to think about reading any more books to pass the time.
Or, if you’re like me, and you’ve got a never-ending pile of books you want to tackle, here are a few more to add to the list:
1. The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet by Michael E. Mann
In The New Climate War, Mann argues that all is not lost. He outlines a plan for forcing our governments and corporations to wake up and make real change, including a common-sense, attainable approach to carbon pricing and a revision of the Green New Deal; allowing renewable energy to compete against fossil fuels; debunking myths that have worked their way into the climate debate and combatting climate doomism.
2. Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, by Elizabeth Kolbert
In Under a White Sky, Kolbert takes a hard look at the new world we are creating and the challenges we face. In her book, she profiles biologists who are trying to preserve the world’s rarest fish, engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland, Australian researchers who are trying to develop a “super coral” that can survive on a hotter globe, and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth.
3. There Is No Planet B, Updated Edition, by Mike Berners-Lee
Mike Berners-Lee has crunched the numbers and plotted a course of action that is practical and even enjoyable. There is No Planet B lays the information out in an accessible and entertaining way, filled with astonishing facts and analysis. It's a big-picture perspective on the environmental and economic challenges of the day laid out in one place and traced through to the underlying roots, questions of how we live and think, including ideas for what you can do to help our planet.
4. How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos, by David Pogue
In How to Prepare for Climate Change, Pogue offers sensible, deeply researched advice for how the rest of us should start to ready ourselves for the years ahead. Pogue walks readers through what to grow, what to eat, how to build, how to insure, where to invest, how to prepare your children and pets, and even where to consider relocating when the time comes. He also provides tips for managing anxiety and how to persevere through natural disasters.
5. How Are We Going to Explain This? Our Future on a Hot Earth by Jelmer Mommers
Journalist Jelmer Mommers knows most people prefer not to talk or even think about climate change, but denial and despair are not the only possible responses to the current crisis. Drawing on the latest science, Mommers describes how we got here, what possible future awaits us, and how you can help make a difference.
6. The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking by Roman Krznaric
In The Good Ancestor, Krznaric reveals six practical ways we can retrain our brains to think of the long view, including Deep-Time Humility (recognizing our lives as a cosmic eye blink) and Cathedral Thinking (starting projects that will take more than one lifetime to complete). His aim is to inspire more “time rebels” like Greta Thunberg—to shift our allegiance from this generation to all humanity—in short, to save our planet and our future.
Fears about climate change are fueling an epidemic of despair across the world: adults worry about their children’s future; thirty-somethings question whether they should have kids or not; and many young people honestly believe they have no future at all. In the face of extreme eco-anxiety, Elin Kelsey argues that our hopelessness is hampering our ability to address the very real problems we face. Kelsey offers a powerful solution: hope itself.
8. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg
No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference brings you Greta in her own words, for the first time. Collecting her speeches that have made history across the globe, from the United Nations to Capitol Hill and mass street protests, her book is a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how small or powerless we feel.
9. Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, by Steven E. Koonin
Set to be released in May 2021, Steven Koonin draws upon his decades of experience to provide up-to-date insights and expert perspective free from political agendas. Koonin takes readers behind the headlines to the more nuanced science itself, showing us where it comes from and guiding us through the implications of the evidence. He also tackles society’s response to a changing climate, using data-driven analysis to explain why many proposed “solutions” would be ineffective, and discussing how alternatives like adaptation and, if necessary, geoengineering will ensure humanity continues to prosper.
10. All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson
With poetry and art in hand, All We Can Save illuminates the expertise and insights of dozens of diverse women leading on climate in the United States, including scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, innovators, wonks and designers from all sorts of backgrounds. It aims to advance a more representative, nuanced and solution-oriented public conversation on the climate crisis. These women offer a spectrum of ideas and insights for how we can rapidly, radically reshape society.
Ideally, I’m sure we would like to get through all of these and more. I know I’ll be reading “Under a White Sky” first.