28 Best Books on Climate Change and the environment
Meaghan Weeden | July 28, 2022 | 7 min read
Love nature and books? Then this list of the best climate change books is for you
The question of how humanity will address the negative effects of human-caused climate change and global warming is daunting. The climate change challenge however, could also be an opportunity to reshape our society into a more equitable, humanistic, and environmentally conscious one.
Thankfully, some of our greatest minds and writers have envisioned what this change may look like, based on current and future climate efforts and technologies. They’ve learned from climate scientists, historical environmentalists, radical activists, and Indigenous populations that are on the frontlines of the fight for Earth’s future.
The following list of titles includes some of the best books about climate change and books about the environment. Each book brings a unique perspective that encourages and empowers us to take action for the future of our planet.
Recent Book Releases About Climate Change and the Environment
1. Now Is The Time For Trees by Dan Lambe
of the Arbor Day Foundation,
written with Lorene Edwards Forkner. Trees and forests been identified as a #1 nature-based solution in the face of climate change — and this book will show you why nowis the time to plant them. With everything from advice on choosing the right size and type of tree to tried-and-true tips for planting success, experts inspire you to do your part. This is a great resource for anyone that's interested in planting trees at home or in their community!
2. Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generationby Paul Hawken. The most common question about the climate crisis is “What should I do?” Many people are overwhelmed and believe that their individual actions won't make enough of a difference. Hawken disagrees with this assessment — and better yet, he lays out a radical new approach to addressing the climate crisis. One that combines justice, climate, biodiversity, and human dignity into a powerful movement of action, policy, and transformation that can end the climate crisis in one generation.
3. The Intersectional Environmentalist by Leah Thomas. The Intersectional Environmentalist examines the inextricable link between environmentalism, racism, and privilege — and teaches that we can't save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people. Written by Leah Thomas, the activist who coined the term "Intersectional Environmentalism," this book is simultaneously a call to action, a guide to instigating change for all, and a pledge to empower all people and restore the planet.
4. Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet by George Monbiot. Industrial agriculture is the world's leading cause of deforestation and environmental destruction – and the one that we're least prepared to talk about. We criticize urban sprawl, but farming sprawls across 30X as much land. Yet millions still go hungry. Now the food system itself is beginning to falter. But, as George Monbiot shows us in this brilliant new book, we can resolve the biggest of our dilemmas and feed the world without devouring the planet.
5. This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein. Provocative, insightful, and explosive. Klein sees climate change as the spark that unites humanity against a common cause. She envisions its growing effects as humanity’s wake-up call to the environmental dangers of unregulated global capitalism — and reimagines the world as we know it. A must read.
6. All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson. A tableau of essays, poetry and art by women leaders in the climate movement. Through artistic, scientific and humanitarian excellence, this book not only inspires, but preserves a sense of hope for the future. A perfect way to introduce the topic to a pre-teen or young adult.
7. What Can I Do? My Path from Climate Despair to Action by Jane Fonda. Incorporating her own stories of climate activism with the stories and speeches of other brave activists and scientists, actress Jane Fonda shares her deepest insights and experiences gleaned from decades of fighting on the frontlines of change. The best part? 100% of the book’s proceeds will go directly to Greenpeace.
8. Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril by Thomas Homer-Dixon. Sometimes a change in perspective can make a world of difference, and that’s exactly what Homer-Dixon hopes to accomplish with this book. The verdict? In order to enact sweeping changes, we must come together in ways we never have before.
Taking Action for Climate
9. As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker. Seeking to challenge the Euro-centric view of environmentalism, Gilio-Whitaker tells the stories of Indigenous communities that are at the forefront of the climate justice movement. While Standing Rock put this battle into the public eye, there's a long and storied history of Indigenous peoples leading environmental activism.
10. Standing Up for a Sustainable World: Voices of Change Edited by Claude Henry, Johan Rockstrōm, and Nicholas Stern. A roadmap for change, this compilation combines the voices of leading activists, academics and entrepreneurs. It offers lessons in sustainability while leading a call to action against the potential disastrous consequences of our inaction.
11. This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent by Daegan Miller. American naturalism and environmentalism wouldn’t be possible without the rich foundation laid by previous generations. From Thoreau’s anti-capitalist property maps and an upstate New York antislavery community to subversive messages hidden in commercial photographs and utopian anarchists in California’s sequoias, Miller details an alternative history of the United States framed around the passionate environmentalists that helped shape its natural heritage.
12. The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet by Michael E. Mann. This powerful denouncement of the fossil fuel industry’s PR campaigns, which push the burden of environmental change onto the individual, is as scathing as it is empowering. By debunking false narratives and outlining a common-sense approach to carbon pricing, Mann provides a rallying cry for anyone that's tired of hearing the same old arguments.
Systems Level Solutions
13. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warmingby Paul Hawken. One of the most informative and thoroughly researched works on the topic, Drawdown takes a practical and completely attainable attitude towards reversing global warming. Not only will you learn about specific solutions to address our collective climate challenges, you’ll also see them ranked from 1 to 100 for effectiveness, complete with carbon stats and long-term impact.
14. Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by Edward O. Wilson. In this book, beloved biologist and ecologist E. O. Wilson proposes a radical solution to climate change: dedicate half of the Earth’s land to nature. It’s an ambitious but absolutely necessary step towards preserving all of life on Earth.
15. Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet by Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin with C.J. Polychroniou. Politically and economically, there are many hurdles to overcome before implementing sweeping climate change resolutions, but leading intellectuals Chomsky and Pollin have composed a solution. They argue that a Green New Deal is exactly the kind of blueprint that humanity needs to face this crisis head-on.
16. The Case for the Green New Deal by Ann Pettifor. By one of the engineers of the landmark US Green New Deal campaign, this book offers a detailed manifesto on the radical changes that are necessary to fight the green fight. While Pettifor offers us a roadmap of change, she also includes tangible explanations on how we can afford to reimagine our economy.
17. Revolutionary Power: An Activist’s Guide to the Energy Transition by Shalanda H. Baker. Too often, the topic of climate change is framed around its proximity to the Western World. In this amazing book, Baker argues for an energy revolution on behalf of people of color, poor people, and Indigenous communities around the globe. In 200 pages, she outlines how directing attention to energy justice via key areas of energy policy could reshape the world in incredible ways.
18. A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington. Broad research and figures about the harmful effects of climate change in America doesn’t paint the full picture. Americans of color are already experiencing these effects in completely disproportionate numbers. Washington makes a compelling case and offers solutions to help those who are hurting across the country.
19. Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality in a Divided World Edited by John Freeman. In many areas of the world, we can already see the effects of climate change with our own eyes. This compilation features writings by Lauren Groff, Edwidge Danticat, Margaret Atwood (and many more) that address the inequalities implicit in climate change impacts.
20. Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — And How it Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman. In 2007, Friedman became one of the first people to coin the term “Green New Deal,” and he continues his environmental thought leadership with this scathing overview of America’s history and future. If you want to understand how future generations are going to shape the climate crisis, look no further than this book.
A Sober Eyed Look
21. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. Do you struggle with connecting with friends or relatives who refuse to even acknowledge the reality of climate change? Oreskes and Conway provide a glimpse into the history of the incredibly effective scientific disinformation campaigns that have been historically used by political establishments and media conglomerates to obscure reality and distort the public's understanding of important issues.
22. The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go From Here by Hope Jahren. With an insightful lesson about how we got where we are, and a deep dive into the many potential solutions, Jahren takes the reader on a journey through each highly-readable chapter. It’s a story of missed opportunities, human ingenuity, and the chance to completely reshape the world as we know it.
23. Don’t Even Think About it: Why Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall. The oxymoronic title says it all. Marshall argues that the discomfort we feel when discussing climate change is due to how our brains are wired, our evolution, and our deepest human instincts. This book details how a psychological shift in the way we think about climate change is needed — and how it could make a huge difference in our ability to unite humanity around this shared cause.
24. Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming by McKenzie Funk. Our changing climate will be life-altering for many, but others see it as an opportunity for unparalleled economic profit. Funk details a thru line that ranges from from Israeli snowmakers to Greenland secessionists and mutant mosquitoes to the Saharan Desert.
The Power of Individual Actions
25. Our House is on Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet by Jeanette Winter. If you’re looking for a way to explain the debate around climate change to a younger generation, then check out the kid-friendly story of conservationist and TIME Person of the Year Greta Thunberg. Her determined voice has inspired millions, proving the power that one person can have to spark a global conversation.
26. How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time by Will McCallum. Plastic is abundant, destructive and unavoidable; so what do we do about it? Greenpeace activist Will McCallum offers us everyday advice about how to remove plastic from our lives, one source at a time. A little effort can truly go a long way.
27. Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Even Know You Have by Tatiana Schlossberg. By making small, everyday decisions, we can significantly reduce our personal carbon footprint. Schlossberg’s powerful narrative takes us through the effects of our everyday decisions and examines their impact on other communities and the environment.
28.Sustainability is for Everyone by Alan AtKisson. While only 49 pages long, this little book has a huge message; sustainability is inspiration! Taking a warm, human tone, AtKisson urges everyone to connect with sustainability in a way that makes sense to them.
Hopefully, this list of best books about climate change and the environment has inspired your next round of gifts and reading materials. If possible, and in the interest of reducing paper waste, try finding copies at your local used bookstore instead of buying them new. Also remember to check out our very own book that's full of inspirational and heartwarming tree quotes. For every book sold, one tree will be planted!