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ICYMI: Books We’re Reading on Climate

Our favorite books about climate: up-close looks at communities impacted by warming, riveting stories that center the natural world, and bold, comprehensive solutions.

  • December 16th 2021

It can be overwhelming to think about climate change: its vast universe of causes and effects, manifestations and consequences, what-ifs and could have beens. Luckily, many of the world’s best minds and foremost experts have put their skills and talents to this critical challenge, resulting in a body of literature as broad as the issue itself. Understanding an issue is the first step to solving it.

Drawdown (Paul Hawken, editor)
The 100 most substantive solutions across multiple sectors to reverse global warming, based on the collective wisdom and meticulous research of leading scientists and policymakers around the world.

The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong (Judith Rodin)
A diverse range of stories that show how people, organizations, businesses, and communities have developed resilience in the face of otherwise catastrophic challenges, including climate change

The Swamp (Michael Grunwald)
A history of the Everglades from the Ice Ages to the present, and of man’s attempts to tame, destroy, and then save this national treasure

Lost Miami Beach (Carolyn Klepser) 
Rediscover through words and pictures the lost buildings of Miami Beach, and learn about the changes that sparked a preservation movement .

The Overstory (Richard Powers)
Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, this novel about trees is a wonderful homage to the natural world and its vulnerability.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need (Bill Gates)
After a decade of research and consultation with experts in myriad fields, the philanthropist and founder of Breakthrough Energy and Microsoft lays out a wide-ranging, practical plan for achieving zero global greenhouse gas emissions.

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis (Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson, editors)
A best-selling anthology of writings by 60 women at the forefront of the climate movement

Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret (Catherine Coleman Flowers)
A MacArthur grant-winning environmental justice activist’s memoir about fighting for a cleaner sanitation future for America’s most vulnerable communities

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future (Elizabeth Kolbert)
A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New Yorker staff writer travels the world witnessing humanity’s transformative impact on nature and trying to answer the question: After doing so much damage, can we now change nature to save it?

The Ministry for the Future (Kim Stanley Robinson)
A science fiction novel that paints an all-too-realistic picture of how climate change will affect us all in the near future 

The Hidden Life of Trees (Peter Wohlleben)
A forester author makes the case that trees are social beings and the forest is a social network.

Speed and Scale: An Action Plan for Solving our Climate Crisis Now (John Doerr)
A leading venture capitalist and engineer employs the goal-setting techniques behind some of the world’s most powerful companies to lay out a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions before it’s too late.

Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World (Katharine Hayhoe)
When we find shared values, even small conversations can have a big impact on spurring collective action to address climate change.

Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life (E.O. Wilson)
An acclaimed biologist and Pulitzer Prize winner explains how devoting half the surface of the Earth to nature will save its imperiled biosphere.

Letters to a Young Scientist (E.O. Wilson)
Reflections on a 60-year career as a biologist to inspire the next generation of scientists and instill an appreciation of what’s possible in the field in readers.

The Ocean Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Eric Paul Roorda, editor)
A collection of texts charting humans’ relationship to the ocean, this is an essential guide to understanding the complex history of 70 percent of the planet.

Coral Empire: Underwater Oceans, Colonial Tropics, Visual Modernity (Ann Elias)
An art history professor demonstrates how early twentieth-century photographs, films, and dioramas contributed to a skewed cultural construction of coral reefs — hopefully inspiring a better approach to their future.

Now Comes Good Sailing: Writers Reflect on Henry David Thoreau (Andrew Blauner, editor)
An anthology from 27 leading writers on the author of Walden, how he has influenced them, and why he matters in an age of climate, racial, and technological reckoning

Braiding Sweetgrass (Robin Wall Kimmerer)
A Native American botanist draws on her myriad lenses of knowledge to show how plants and animals can teach us — and awaken a wider ecological consciousness.  

The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier (Ian Urbina)
An investigate reporter uncovers a globe-spanning network of crime and exploitation on the high seas — rooted in the fishing, oil, and shipping industries. 

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (Naomi Klein)
Why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon “free market” ideology, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (David Wallace-Wells)
Called the Silent Spring of our time, this impassioned call to action shows us just how bad it can get.

Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution (Beth Gardiner)
How one of the essentials of human life, the air we breathe, has been dirtied by political decisions and economic forces, air pollution’s human toll around the world, and what can be done about it.

Migrations (Charlotte McConaghy)
A novel about a woman who embarks on a journey to follow Arctic terns on what might be their final migration to Antarctica, this book is at once an ode to a disappearing world and a page-turner about hope against all odds.

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