Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency
By Mark Lynas
If you want to know what climate change means, this brand new book is for you. Lynas is an accomplished scientific journalist who details the consequences of global heating one degree at a time, showing what lies ahead in both physical effects and human costs: lives lost, countries endangered and economies destroyed. This is an update of 2007’s award-winning Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, and Lynas’s alarm over inaction since is palpable. Climate effects are moving even faster and more frighteningly than expected, while time runs short and our forecasted carbon budget shrinks. To be clear, this is a very scary book, but grounded in today’s most reliable science. Well worth a read.
Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy
by Hal Harvey
Like a wonky version of Drawdown, this is a serious guide to climate policies that work, with cost/benefit weightings for each. The authors show in readable prose and numerous graphs that there are no silver bullets: climate solutions must necessarily combine efforts across many sectors, and the most effective solutions are often those we already have, such as renewable portfolio standards, tougher building codes, and better government funding of research and development through agencies such as ARPA-E, the U.S. Advanced Projects Research Agency – Energy. Carbon tax fans will find those in the mix as well, although – spoiler alert – they don’t take top priority. Lead author Hal Harvey also has excellent free, online video lectures hitting many of the book’s highlights, which brings it to life.
– David Camp
We Are The Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast
by Jonathan Safran Foer
A powerful look at the difficulty we have as humans to sacrifice our personal comforts for the sake of our own survival. It is honest, funny and deeply moving. I found this book to be one that made me look at my own personal choices with a new, empowered perspective. Over the years, human beings have been able to come together and do incredible things in times of crisis, and this book encourages us to do that now to save our planet while also taking an honest and blunt look at why this can be so hard for us to do. It is human, unapologetic in its honesty, and yet, it is also sweet and vulnerable and makes us wade into the grey areas of our convictions that can be hard to look at. This book is a must-read if you want to really be the change. Before most of us can do that, we need to confront our own humanity first.
Riders in the Storm: Ethics in an Age of Climate Change
by Brian G. Henning
For a climate novice like myself, I found this a great resource for gaining a foundation in the climate crisis, and from one of our leading locals, no less (Prof. Henning teaches philosophy and environmental studies at Gonzaga). An easy 160-page read, with many helpful graphs and charts, and discussion points at the end of each chapter. What I liked most about this book was how well organized and easy to follow it is, guiding readers from the science behind climate change, to politics, to possible solutions, and concluding with a moral analysis. There is a much appreciated glossary, an extensive bibliography, and also an appendix which I especially enjoyed (including material on the issue of eating meat, which led our family to greatly decrease our consumption of beef, in particular). If you are not currently an expert on the climate crisis, this is the one book I would recommend for you, written by someone who not only understands it, but also teaches it and lives it every day.
-Wm. Lamont Worden
Eager: the Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter
by Ben Goldfarb.
I always respected beavers for the important role they play in changing the environment around them in a manner which provides for themselves and other plants and creatures, but this book did a remarkable job of describing just how critical beavers are to our planet. It comprehensively reviews the beavers’ lifestyle, their near annihilation by human trappers, and the ongoing struggles to overcome the negative prejudices against them while attempting to reintroduce them into environments. The author spent years researching this book and personally traveled all over the U.S. and U.K to chronicle beavers’ plights and progress. Written in a light, conversational tone with humor and frequent popular references, this book is an extremely enjoyable read and is almost certainly guaranteed to make you a Beaver Believer. Enjoy.
-Wm. Lamont Worden
Short Circuiting Policy
By Leah Stokes
In 2000 utilities across America embraced clean energy so much that presidential candidate George W. Bush boasted about even Texas utilities going clean and green. So what happened to that momentum? If you’ve wondered why clean energy now seems to take a step backwards for every two steps forward, this nicely footnoted academic book by University of California at Santa Barbara political scientist Lea Stokes could be a handy guide, explaining how monopoly utilities have stalled progress as home solar and distributed generation have threatened their top-down, centralized generation business models. She shows how political polarization has helped utilities undermine clean energy laws. She also has some surprises in store, arguing against wasting energy trying to turn private utilities public, focusing instead on keeping electricity affordable while cleaning up dirty gas and coal generation.
Parable of the Sower
by Octavia E. Butler
This “cli-fi” novel starts in a future Southern California of walled communities and private police forces that protect the rich from hordes made desperate by climate chaos and economic ruin. What a world for a young, female “hyperempath” protagonist to live in; she literally feels the pain and anguish of the wrecked people around her! When the walls inevitably fail, she flees northward toward another place and another future, encountering new friends and enemies along the way. The book was such a success that it spawned a sequel, the Nebula Award-winning Parable of the Talents, and a third book in the series remains unfinished.
New York 2140
by Kim Stanley Robinson
In this optimistic novel of resilience in the face of future climate chaos, a steadily submerging New York still bustles with people living in upper floors of buildings, getting around on water taxis, meeting each new challenge with ingenuity and pluck, caring for their neighbors and carrying on with life. People still fall in love, make fools of themselves, search for treasures, and make life-changing career decisions. Although there is no great story arc, I found that I cared for almost every character and accepted their weaknesses as well as their abilities. The author was cited as a “Hero of the Environment” by Time magazine in 2008.
The Hour of Land
by Terry Tempest Williams
While this book is not specifically about the climate crisis, Terry Tempest Williams highlights the ways in which a changing climate will impact our public lands. Her stories detail the many ways that National Parks serve as a touchstone for our connection with nature, and what is at stake.
by Barbara Kingsolver
The story opens with Dellarobia Turnbow, fleeing her life and unexpectedly discovering millions of monarch butterflies overwintering in the trees on the hillside above her home. As they take flight in the warm sun, they appear as flames to her eyes. Is this a miracle? As word spreads of the phenomenon, the faithful, environmentalists and scientists flock to the site. Throughout the book, there is genuine curiosity and quest for knowledge, a love of the land and family, an exploration of the complicated interwoven relationships between the characters and care for the land. Kingsolver really respects her characters and found a way to create difficult conversations or situations in which you could feel sympathy for everyone involved. I found it very moving, and spoke to my heart rather than my head.
— Erica Dellwo