There are few issues facing humanity more pressing than climate change. With temperatures and sea levels rising, it’s never been more important to identify – and to solve – the problems of emissions and carbon footprints in order to create a more sustainable way of life. Our planet’s future depends on it, as the IPCC's stark latest warning has pointed out.

One of the best ways to understand how we got here and how we can change is by learning from the experts. We’ve rounded up a host of books crucial to an understanding of the climate crisis, which posit ideas for change and boldly point the way forward. Get reading toward a greener world below.

 

How to Save Our Planet by Mark Maslin (2021)

In this direct, handbook-style guide to our planet’s future, Earth System Science Professor Mark Maslin outlines everything we know about our planet and, true to its title, how to save it. In straightforward, accessible prose, Maslin equips readers with the most recent science about climate change, sustainability, and the climate we’re facing, then provide a clarion call to action. We have everything we need to preserve the planet, he argues, except for the proper politics and policies – but he’s optimistic about their future, too.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates (2021)

It's easy to feel despondent with the state of the climate crisis and the amount of time we theoretically have to try and mediate the problems we've caused on the planet. But there is one person who knows what technology and science can do to make a change for the better – and is optimistic that it can happen.

Bill Gates's How to Avoid a Climate Disaster is a clear-eyed, practical and invigorating new take on what we can do to save the planet. 

The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future by David Wallace-Wells (2019)

The Uninhabitable Earth tears through the rumours, speculation and roundabout questions to deliver a harsh reality check - not of what’s to come, but what’s already here. A terrifying expansion of Wallace-WellsNY Mag article, the first piece of climate change journalism to go viral, The Uninhabitable Earth seeks to shock us out of complacency rather than sugarcoat the ecological emergency we face.

On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi Klein (2019)

From world-renowned activist and journalist Naomi Klein comes a decade's worth of essays, reports and lectures on climate change, juxtaposed with modern hypotheses, debates and worrying ultimatums. Klein investigates the political challenges of the crisis, from emission reductions to white nationalism, and reveals why such movements will impact those worst affected by the crisis in years to come. 

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg (2019)

Sixteen-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg became a global icon of the environmental movement in late 2018 when she decided to organise a school strike to make a stand. It sparked a wave of similar strikes and protests for action against the climate crisis around the world, inspiring millions of teenagers and students. A powerful orator, Thunberg has commanded audiences from the UN to street protests with her unique ‘tell it how it is’ attitude. No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference documents her fierce and impassioned words for the first time. 

This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook (2019)

Extinction Rebellion hit headlines this year with their global protests demanding governmental accountability for the climate crisis. ‘It’s too disruptive!’, politicians and the police force cried, dismayed at the interruptions to their everyday city life. But is it? Poisoned seas, flooding, toxic air, wildfires, super-storms, drought, famine and climate refugees – not to mention the sixth mass extinction we are in the midst of – when do we, the people, say ‘enough is enough’? This handbook, written by key members, experts and MPs, has everything you need to know to start your own grassroots movement – or even rebellion.  

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)

When first published in 1962, Silent Spring exposed the destruction of flora and fauna through the widespread use of pesticides. Despite global condemnation and calls for bans by the chemical industries and conglomerates, the book went on to change attitudes, educate the public and transform policies. Carson was vilified but furiously defended her work, demanding answers, and above all, accountability, for the destruction of the natural world. Silent Spring went on to inspire countless environmentalists and eventually led to the ban of harmful pesticides (including DDT) from use in countries across the world. 

Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet we Made by Gaia Vince (2015)

British journalist and broadcaster Gaia Vince travelled the world to uncover the real-time impact the climate crisis was having on our planet, and to discover what it really means to move from the geological boundary of the Holocene into the Anthropocene. Vince presents stories of ordinary people in remote, climate-affected locations who are overcoming the odds and attempting to readdress the balance to ensure their communities survive. 

Our Planet by Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey, Fred Pearce (2019)

A companion to the Netflix documentary series that helped transform attitudes and spark conversation around the climate crisis, with its message that our actions over the next 20 years will dictate the future of the natural world. Exploring the way human activity has impacted the lives and environments of thousands of species, Our Planet comes with a foreword by David Attenborough and 320 pages of stunning imagery from the series. 

99 Maps to Save the Planet by Katapult (2021)

Across 99 maps that run the gamut from amusing to terrifying, this book – created and curated by map specialists KATAPULT – reveals a host of our planet’s most pressing problems, from global greenhouse emissions to the number of trees we would have to plant to make our planet carbon-neutral. If you’ve ever wanted to truly visualise the issues affecting the world – including, for example, the amount of the Earth’s surface now covered by concrete – there’s no better place to start.

Atmosphere of Hope: Solutions to the Climate Crisis by Tim Flannery (2015)

Palaeontologist, conservationist and leading climate change writer Professor Tim Flannery reminds readers that we still possess the power to make change in our everyday lives, from emission cuts to emerging technologies. Atmosphere of Hope balances between outlining the harsh realities of our situation with much-needed hope for the future. Flannery details what may happen if temperatures rise above the 2°C UN target; while bleak, he also offers advice on how we should proceed, covering the reduction of fossil fuels and potential for the removal of carbon from the atmosphere. 

We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Starts at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer (2019)

The link between animal agriculture and the climate crisis has historically been ignored, but collective actions such as decreasing meat consumption could play a huge part in reducing carbon emissions. The bestselling author of Eating Animals has written a fresh take on the climate crisis, detailing what we can do to make a change, starting with the food chain. Delivered with Safran Foer’s signature wit, he discusses and debates our personal reluctance to give up creature comforts while revealing the profound and immediate effects it could have on the planet. 

The Plundered Planet by Paul Collier (2011)

World-renowned economist Paul Collier delivers a proposal for a shift in global policy which will result in reductions in poverty and environmental devastation, particularly for developing nations. Written with rigorous analysis based on extensive research, Collier explores rational and pragmatic ways to deal with overpopulation and abuse of our natural resources.  

Drawdown by Paul Hawken (2018)

This New York Times bestseller flips the script and focuses on the future to detail bold solutions to the climate crisis. Project Drawdown was set up by environmentalist, entrepreneur and journalist Paul Hawken to gather a broad coalition of leading researchers, scientists and policymakers to enact meaningful change. From revolutionising food production to educating girls in lower-income nations, he presents ideas to create worthwhile change for the planet. 

Being Ecological by Timothy Morton (2018)

Philosopher Timothy Morton sets out to disrupt mainstream thinking about ecology by exploring our real relationship with the natural world. Avoiding a heavy scientific narrative and adopting a more informal, conversational tone, Morton demonstrates our often unseen connections to nature and showcases how we can and should evolve our thinking to better understand the place of humans in the world. 

What did you think of this article? Email editor@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk and let us know.

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