There is no shortage of options to consider for books on climate change. As a significant part of our place on this planet and our collective future, climate change books have taken the war on climate change from the courtroom to the home. Hundreds of authors have weighed in on the subject, but which ones are right for you? Are there books on climate change for kids? Which book would be a great gift option for a climate advocate?
It can be hard to know where to start with many facets of day-to-day life playing a part in climate change. You may be interested in technologies to reduce waste going to landfills or energy projects to reduce our dependency on oil. No matter what you are interested in, there will be a book for you. Below are 22 climate crises books to consider before your next literary purchase, broken down into three categories:
- 16 essential climate change books you should check out today
- Top 3 books on climate change for kids
- 3 other books on sustainability & environment that you might like
The books on these lists range from narrative to well-documented scientific research. Not every one of these books will speak to the sixth extinction or the potential of an uninhabitable Earth. Still, they each give a unique perspective the human activity and how it is changing our planet. Ultimately, the decision comes down to you in choosing a book. Still, I hope to give you a brief understanding of some of the best books about climate change in this article.
16 essential climate change books you should check out today
Climate change is a broad term with numerous factors ultimately shaping this crisis. These books provide a detailed look at various aspects of climate change, ranging from the injustices affecting our nation's most vulnerable today to how our future looks without change.
1. All We Can Save
All We Can Save is an inspiring collection of climate change essays interspersed with poetry and art. With works from dozens of women leading the climate movement, this book acts to inform and remind the readers that we are in this together. Coming from a wide array of backgrounds, ranging from climate scientists to teachers and climate activists, these authors offer a variety of ideas to advance the climate crisis conversation.
2. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster
Author: Bill Gates
Gates has spent a decade exploring the effects of climate change. In Bill Gates climate change book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, he focuses on the steps necessary to stop our environmental disaster. With the assistance of experts in half a dozen fields, Gates lays out the challenges we can expect to face but with a hint of optimism. Beyond exploring the technologies already available, and the ones to be developed, he presents a zero-emissions plan that governments, employers, and the average person can adopt.
Author: Paul Hawken
Paul Hawken's Drawdown is one of the most comprehensive and meticulously researched climate change books. Looking at 100 climate change solutions and ranking them according to their benefits, this New York Times Bestseller shows a path forward and a way to invert the curve of carbon emissions. This topic ranges from simple changes at home to systematic overhauls, putting into layman's terms how these changes can lead to a more livable world.
4. This Changes Everything
Author: Naomi Klein
In her book, This Changes Everything, award-winning author Naomi Klein challenges the current economic system that puts profit over the planet. Exploring topics of climate denialism, delusions, and defeatism, Klein explains why our current market system cannot fix the world's climate crisis. But Klein doesn't stop there, laying out a case for why reducing carbon emissions could be one of the best opportunities to reduce inequalities and rebuild local economies. She drives home climate action by the end of the book, leaving the reader realizing that our current system will only continue to damage the planet if left unchecked.
5. Losing Earth
Author: Nathaniel Rich
Nathaniel Rich's Losing Earth chronicles a time in our recent history when a meaningful change was within the grasp of climate activists. Between 1979 and 1989, climate scientists already knew the risks of manufactured global warming, and an international treaty to mitigate global warming was nearing completion. What happened next was the birth of climate policy misinformation on behalf of the fossil fuels industry. Rich explores past failures, asking the hard questions to help us understand where we can go from here.
Author: Mckenzie Funk
If climate change is left unchecked, humanity must learn to adapt to the new normal of an ever-changing world. Mckenzie Funk explores this fascinating world of fast adaptation in Windfall, reporting on the people who stand to profit from an ever-changing world. The author explores the three categories of climate change (melt, drought, and deluge). Funk investigates new mineral-rich Arctic regions, firefighters funded by insurance companies, and the future of floating cities. But when these big businesses win, what does that mean for the rest of the planet?
7. Don't Even Think About It
Author: George Marshall
George Marshall's book, Don't Even Think About It, investigates why we are the way we are. It explores the challenging conversations we have with climate deniers and even the struggles to motivate ourselves to make a change. Marshall pieced together years of research and came face to face with a spectrum of scientists, activists, deniers, and more to create this book. He realized and argues that our response to climate change comes down to the evolution of our brains. Exploring topics such as how we evolved, perceive threats, and respond to fears, the author challenges the reader to rethink the approach to communicating the climate change topic.
8. A Terrible Thing to Waste
Author: Harriet A. Washington
The topic of environmental racism may not be at the forefront of the climate debate, even though it is a dangerous and deadly problem affecting the population. Washington's engaging report, A Terrible Thing to Waste, weighs how environmental hazards have disproportionately impacted communities of color. Risks, including atmospheric pollution and industrial waste, have been found at higher rates in middle-class black neighborhoods than in their white counterparts. Taking on the topic of the biased IQ myth, Washington points to the black communities subjected to record pollution exposure and the major causes of irreparable harm to their minds and body. Her compelling narrative brings to light the grim reality of imbalanced environmental standards in America and how it's destroying lives and families' futures.
9. On Fire
Author: Naomi Klein
Author Naomi Klein's book On Fire gives a well-researched and passionate case for the Green New Deal. She expresses how our current climate crisis is a political challenge and a deeper spiritual and imaginative one. Her long-form essays delve into numerous topics that challenge the current system and relate the recent battle for a greener world to a fight for our very lives. Klein does well to promote a sense of urgency, channeling it into the need for dynamic movements promoting change.
10. Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal
Author: Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin with C.J. Polychroniou
In Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal, the intellectual minds of Chomsky and Pollin tackle a global Green New Deal. They find that this is possible and can be used to help humanity and heal the planet. Exploring the political and economic hurdles to be overcome for sweeping climate reform, they compose a solution that greens the world and expands the opportunities of the most vulnerable among us. The question becomes not whether this is economically realistic but whether it is politically feasible.
11. Hot, Flat and Crowded
Author: Thomas L. Friedman
In his book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, Friedman explores the concept of "Geo-Greenism" to reduce global warming and make America a healthier and more secure country. He explains how events of the time brought climate and energy issues to the conversational forefront. Friedman explores how Energy Technologies would transform and disrupt the world and goes so far as to say that America should be the one to lead the green revolution.
12. The New Climate War
Author: Michael E. Mann
In recent years the minimization of our carbon footprint through recycling, reducing unnecessary flying, and drastically cutting our consumption of red meat has become mainstream. But is there more to it? In his novel, The New Climate War, Mann reveals how the fossil fuel industry has used the same successful blame-deflecting strategies of previous industrial titans. These seeming innocuous slogans and initiatives helped them shift the climate responsibility from their bottom line to their customers. Exploring the campaigns that seek to push the onus on the average citizen to fight climate change, Mann outlines a plan to move the powers that be into action.
13. The Uninhabitable Earth
Author: David Wallace-Wells
Wells' The Uninhabitable Earth is a gripping look at the near future of extreme climate change and its effects on the Earth and its residents. Taking the science of climate change and crafting it into readable realities, the author explores climate wars, climate refugees, and devastation due to extreme weather events. This call to action is a wake-up, like Silent Spring before it, to what is to come if we don't act swiftly.
14. The Sixth Extinction
Author: Elizabeth Kolbert
The Earth has experienced mass extinctions before, but never has an extinction been so actively documented as it is today. Elizabeth Kolbert's book, The Sixth Extinction, follows the work of various climate researchers. She joins them in the field as they work to understand how the different aspects of the climate crisis have led to the Anthropocene extinction currently underway. By understanding how we drive so many species to death, this book guides the reader into self-reflection about humanity's place in this world. It will leave the reader wondering whether we want this sixth mass extinction to be our legacy.
Author: Edward O. Wilson
Famed naturalist Edward Wilson proposes a bold plan to preserve the Earth's dwindling biosphere in his book Half-Earth. Exploring the Earth's complex natural interconnectivity and resulting fragility, Wilson stresses the importance of reserving half of all land for nature. He challenges the techno-fantasy that humanity can survive in a fully engineered world beyond our environmental crisis. By the end of the book, the author gives readers a profound sense that humans don't own the biosphere but share it equally with every creature on Earth.
16. Under a White Sky
Author: Elizabeth Kolbert
Award-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert delivers another unique look into climate change. In her book, Under a White Sky, she follows manmade interventions in nature and the unintended consequences they've had on the ecosystem around it. Beyond that, she explores the scientists trying to engineer the Earth away from a climate catastrophe. The book leaves you realizing that humans have spent 10,000 years defying nature. Now that same human ingenuity may be necessary to remediate our mistakes.
Top 3 books on climate change for kids
A familiar saying goes, "You don't inherit the planet from your parents; you borrow it from your children." The planet our children will receive will be filled with rising sea levels, temperature rise, and dwindling natural resources. But the road they walk doesn't have to be one of fear. These books on climate change for kids are a fantastic way for future generations of world shapers to understand the complexity of our changing planet and prepare them to grow into young adults ready to use science and compassion to help the Earth.
1. Our House is on Fire
Author: Jeanette Winter
In recent years, Greta Thunberg has become a household name for youth-inspired climate activism. Inspiring a generation to step out of the classrooms and into the streets, she now addresses world leaders, pushing forward the conversation of our climate emergency and what it means for the next generation. Jeanette Winter's Our House is on Fire is a fantastic picture book that gives life to Greta's story and message. This book serves as an excellent addition to a child's home library. It is a great way to inspire young readers just beginning to understand our changing climate.
2. How to Change Everything
Author: Naomi Klein with Rebecca Stefoff
Naomi Klein has produced numerous award-winning climate change literature. In her book, How to Change Everything, she explores how climate activism is not simply for the adults. Following the empowering stories of various young climate leaders worldwide, Klein shows how the youth isn't just part of our current climate movement but are leading the way. This book looks at our changing climate and provides the next generation with the necessary tools to combat it. The empowering stories Klein includes reveal how young climate activists can work to transform this growing danger into an opportunity for change.
3. The Lorax
Author: Dr. Seuss
When you think climate change, you may not think of Dr. Seuss, but his classic, The Lorax, is a beautiful book to start children down the path of conservation. This book is a whimsical start to understanding a changing climate by teaching the importance of caring for the natural world and speaking up for others. By the end of this tale, the reader learns that all it takes is just one tiny seed, or in this instance, a young mind, to make a difference in the world.
3 other books on sustainability & environment that you might like
The fight for a cleaner, greener future doesn't just stop with knowing the threat. It is essential to make informed decisions in our daily lives to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and other resources that diminish our natural world. These four books look at varying levels of activism, from the personal to the governmental. They offer no shortage of bold solutions, revolutionary ideas, and displays of meaningful action that will have you thinking about them for days to come.
1. Revolutionary Power
Author: Shalanda Baker
Shalanda Baker's book, Revolutionary Power, is a powerful narrative drawing examples from the nearly year-long power outage in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria. Telling the stories of those left behind, like the US citizens of Puerto Rico, Baker drives home how energy justice is also racial justice. The book acts as both a personal narrative and a guidebook for the most vulnerable towards understanding key energy policies and shaping a just future for all.
2. The One-Straw Revolution
Author: Masanobu Fukuoka
Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution is an excellent addition to any library. Touching on traditional agricultural strategies, Fukuoka pushes the reader to envision a world where we mirror nature's laws instead of our chemicals and monocultures. As much of a philosophical look at farming and the farmer, it introduces concepts that inspire a world free of harmful practices degrading the environment. Great for the home gardener and the climate activist alike.
3. We Are the Weather
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
We Are the Weather looks at our climate crisis from the profoundly personal point of view of Jonathan Safran Foer. Exploring historical events, the author relates them to our current climate dilemma. Bridging off into narrative chapters, he runs through the discussions we've all had with another person, or even ourselves, concerning eating for the planet. He challenges our current consumption habits, pushing that climate activism can start for ordinary people at the breakfast table.
Climate change affects all of us, some more pressingly today, and the longer we wait to act, the harder it becomes to fix. But, as seen in some of these books, a lot is being done to bring hope to the future. By simply exploring just one of these reading options, you are taking a step toward a greener future for everyone.
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Written by: Tanner Sagouspe