Where to Start Reading About the Climate Emergency

15 books to introduce you to climate action and sustainability

Tasmin Hansmann
Age of Awareness

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The climate crisis is knocking on our door, scary and overwhelming. When trying to comprehend what is going on and what is the best path forward, we are quickly taken aback by the complexity of the issue and the diversity of possible solutions.

We know it is important to educate ourselves. But where do we start?

Luckily, there is a bunch of literature about the climate emergency and the practical solutions each of us can take.

These are the best books for beginners and everyone that wants to learn more without getting overwhelmed:

The Most Important Comic Book On Earth

A comprehensive book full of hopeful and inspiring comics, explaining the complexity of the crisis with humor, emotions, and creativity. Over 300 contributors, from Cara Delevinge to Jane Goodall, came together and created this collection.

It was put together by the organization Rewriting Extinction, which has the goal to take immediate action against biodiversity loss. The book however is about many different topics. Perfect for everyone that is just getting started on the topic and prefers comics or graphic novels over long non-fiction books, no matter the age.

Turning The Tide On Plastic

We all know that plastic plays a major role in the climate crisis, as plastic pollution is an issue that becomes more and more pressing. But why exactly is plastic so bad? Is all plastic the same? What about recycling? How can we reduce it when everything seems to have plastic packaging nowadays?

Lucy Siegle answers these questions and more in this short and interesting book that offers direct solutions each of us can implement in our life, while also shedding light on the bigger picture.

The Future We Choose

We see the big politicians come together at big conferences, such as COP21, and wonder: How did the politicians even come together? What do they discuss and do they actually take action? And what is our part in all of this?

Written by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, who were significantly involved in the development of the climate conferences, give insight and try to paint a picture of how our future could look like and what politics have to do with it.

How To Change Everything

Naomi Klein is one of the big names in the literature about the climate crisis. Just like Elizabeth Kolbert, her books are widely known and most environmentalists are familiar with their work.

This book, however, is different, because it is a guide for young people. It is specifically written for children and teenagers who want to understand the crisis and take action. A truly inspiring work that also teaches adults how to shift their perspective.

The Archipelago of Hope

Indigenous people play a crucial role in the fight against the climate catastrophe, yet their voices are barely ever heard or listened to. Gleb Raygorodetsky spoke to indigenous people around the globe and documented their experiences and challenges.

The communities he worked with for over two decades are implementing creative solutions to meet these modern problems. Solutions that could be turning points for the rest of us, if we are willing to listen.

The Book Of Hope

We all know and adore Jane Goodall. She is the prime example that one woman, one human, can be the cause for revolution and change. She has written many books and in each of them she addressed the need to protect nature and talked about the changes that she has witnessed with her own eyes throughout her life. Her newest release, The Book Of Hope, tackles that topic directly and offers hope within the crisis.

Braiding Sweetgrass

If you are looking for a more intimate connection with nature, but don’t know where to start, this book is for you. Robin Wall Kimmerer is not only an indigenous woman and mother (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), but also a poet and scientist. She combines her whimsical and deep connection with plants and the Earth with her PhD in Botany. Highly educational and beautifully written, it will open your eyes to a world you have wanted to know for so long.

All We Can Save

Edited by the marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and environmentalist Katharine K. Wilkinson, this collection of essays gives a voice to the women at the forefront of the climate movement. A feminist read about female leadership and the reality of climate change activism. It combines art with uncomfortable truths, inspiring the reader to be courageous and become an explorer of solutions.

No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference

Her protests and especially her direct and vulnerable speeches made her famous around the globe. Greta Thunberg has shown us all how urgent it is to take action now.

While the family memoir “Our House Is On Fire” is more for advanced readers who are ready to learn more about Greta's path and do not get scared by cold, hard, and dark facts about the crisis, “No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference” has less than 100 pages and is a collection of her most ground-breaking speeches. Perfect for beginners.

Consumed

Each and every one of us contributes to the climate crisis with the way we buy and consume goods. From food to clothing to the way we do our job, every little action has an effect (passively or actively) on our environment.

In this book, Aja Barber calls for action and most importantly, change. The change of our personal habits as well as the change of the many industries that are involved in the excessive consumerism of our times. An ideal book to start out in your own home and afterward take it a step further.

The Hidden Life Of Trees

In order to save the world, we need to understand it. And to understand it, we need to open our minds to the possibility of a bigger reality than we were taught in school. For example that trees, in fact, have feelings and communicate with one another. As trees and forests are vital for a habitual planet, it is worth learning more about them.

Peter Wohlleben has studied forests and trees all his life and is the founder of the Waldakademie in Germany, which is a place of sustainable education for all things trees. His writing style is inviting, educational and meets the reader right where they are at.

Entangled Life

Connected to trees but far more mystical and unappreciated are fungi and the so-called mycelium. Without us noticing, they hold the world as we know it together. They play a crucial role in soil health and therefore food production. They also have healing powers, but some of them are also deadly. The world of fungi is fascinating and has only recently become popular.

Written by Merlin Sheldrake, a biologist and ecologist, Entangled Life is a must-read for everyone who wants to understand how everything on this planet is connected to one another.

1001 Voices On Climate Change

For everyone, who still thinks that Climate Change is a problem for the future. In this book, the journalist Devi Lockwood has collected 1001 stories from around the globe that prove to us that the climate crisis is already happening everywhere. She collected these first-person accounts over five years in twenty different countries, from the elders of North America to the youth of the Fiji islands.

The Power Of Just Doing Stuff

Local communities hold the key to climate action. This is a little-known fact, despite it being relatively simple in its concept. By focussing on our own local environment, we can make a huge difference.

Rob Hopkins has started out like all of us, rooted in a world of globalization and technology. But over time he realized that this was not working. Not for him or our shared planet. He started the Transition Movement and is a big advocate for local action.

Green Rising

This one is a YA fiction novel set in a near-future world on the brink of ecological catastrophe, following three young people who will change the world.

Gabrielle who is a climate-change activist who becomes the first teenager to display a supernatural ability to grow plants from her skin. Hester is the millionaire daughter of an oil tycoon and the face of the family business. Theo comes from a long line of fishermen, but his parents are struggling to make ends meet. These three need to team up against corruption and capitalism to save what is left of our Earth.

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Got inspired to pick up one of these books? Or are you missing your favorite climate book in this list? Leave a comment and share this article with others.

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Tasmin Hansmann
Age of Awareness

Storyteller | Author | Queer | Gardener | Environmentalist | Creator | B.A. Cultural Anthropology | Based on Azores Islands