Since we’re imperfectly eco-conscious
nerds humans, we try to stay informed and do as much reading on the subjects we care about. We’ve been told we have a rather specific taste in books – and although we do read a variety of genres, we do have a pretty well-stacked bookshelf on topics concerning the health of our planet. We therefore thought we’d share our suggestions for books by people who are much smarter than us and really have something valuable to say on climate change, living a more eco-friendly life and how to fight for our planet. Hope you’ll find it useful and please message us if you have any recommendations to share as well.
This page will be continuously updated.
The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. I got so emotional when I read chapter 3 – perhaps it would have been more obvious to cry when reading chapter 2 about what happens if we do nothing, but this information is no longer news nor shocking to me – but their description of the world we could be living in filled my heart with hope and joy that I’ve rarely, if ever, experienced in the climate change debate. Figueres and Rivett-Carnac’s pathway to a more sustainable world is however not utopian, rather they paint an optimistic and simultaneoysly realistic picture of the world we could be living. Most importantly they present a clear cut case on how much we have to gain and nothing to lose by changing our way of life. Reading this book will give you the hope and motivation to get cracking! Also go give a listen to their brilliant podcast Outrage + Optimism Podcasts | Global Optimism.
Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth made me (Pernille) seriously rethink the 5 years studying economics as part of my degree in International Business and Politics and question the real-world value of this education, and on the same time feeling slightly vindicated as Kate Raworth with great authority present a case reflecting some of the concerns I raised and were concerned about it during the duration as a university student. Views that were more often than not dismissed as naïve and slightly silly, at best I felt humoured at times.
For a quick presentation of the doughnut, check out Kate Raworth’s marvellous TED talk A healthy economy should be designed to thrive, not grow | Kate Raworth – YouTube
The New Climate War by Michael E. Mann is no doubt one of the best books we’ve ever read on the subject of climate change. Instead of spending pages after pages explaining what most of us already know – how did we get here, what will happen if we don’t act now and this is what YOU need to do to save the planet, the books redirects focus on the most powerful agents in this battle – large companies and (right-wing) politicians. Mann explains how these forces benefit from turning us (the global citizens) against each other (behavioural shaming), give up all together (doomism) and in general refocus our attention away from their money-grabbing polluting behaviour (deflection campaign). This book left me with hope and the feeling that the battle for our planet is winnable through systemic change, as long as we don’t forget who the real enemy is.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. My mum may have bit of beef with Jonathan (no pun intended) as this is the book that turned her daughter from an almost vegetarian to a non-meat eater at all (or at least a “fish and chipocrite”). Foer, who is also the author of “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” sets out to uncover the truth behind factory farming, and full disclosure, it’s not pleasant. The focus is on the US market, but sadly (no matter what we may try to tell ourselves) it also applies to factory farming elsewhere. This book will make you cry, but be brave and give it a read anyway.
On Fire by Naomi Klein is a collection of essays that Naomi Klein has written on climate in the 10 years prior to the publication of the book in 2019. Famously this book prompted Jane Fonda to begin her extensive climate change campaign “Fire drill Fridays” getting arrested (almost) every Friday at the capitol hill and occasional spending a night in jail at age 80. Essentially the book makes a passionate case for A Green New Deal in the US. If you haven’t already, check out this viral video Klein produced with AOC in April 2019 A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – YouTube.
There Is No Planet B by Mike Berners-Lee. Have you ever engaged in a discussion on climate change and the human impact on our environment? Did you ever find that you and your counterparts’ arguments were based on different data, not being able to cite the source of the information (probably from the media (or Facebook and Twitter) and corrupt politicians. And in these conversations did you stumble upon questions you’d like to know the answer to? Berners-Lee provides you with this book a mini-lexicon on some of the most pressing questions for the “make or break years”. Confirming scientific facts and X myths. In my opinion, if everyone read this book, we could move the debate on how to manage our impact on the planet to a much higher and more efficient level.
The Human Planet – how we created the Anthropocene by Simon L. Lewis & Mark A. Maslin. How did we get here? How can there be global warming, when I’ve been told that the planet is headed for a new ice age? Lewis and Maslin give the nerdy and fascinating explanation of the Earth’s history and how we humans have altered its natural trajectory. It’s not exactly a light beach read (although we actually both read it on the beach in Cape Verde), but it is capturing – we’re the most recent residents on this planet, and in that small space of our existence we’ve changed everything?! In this book you’ll find the answer to three key questions, “What is the Anthropocene?”, “How did humans come to dominate the earth?” and “When did we become a geological superpower?”
Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle. Navigating the sea of plastics in everything from the wrapping around our food, the ingredients in our cosmetics to the material in our clothes is difficult, overwhelming and frankly exhausting – and the global pandemic has done nothing to limit our consumption. Luckily, Lucy Siegle have done all of the hard work for us and created this easy to follow guide on how to Record, Reduce, Replace, Refuse, Reuse, Refill, Rethink and Recycle – i.e. “8R steps”. It must be said that I believe it near impossible for any single individual to manage one’s plastic use perfectly (unless you’re a full-time instagrammar with a “no-waste” ESP (emotional selling pint)). But I also believe that if we start with the lowest-hanging fruit and slowly work from there, it can make a significant difference.
This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. An oldie, but a goodie. Although much work has run under the bridge since the publication of this book in 2014, including from Klein herself, this one is a climate movement classic. It tells the outraging story of how much we and our planet are in the hands of a few wealthy and not-so-well-meaning individuals and corporations. Instead of focusing on exercising our democratic powers to deter their power away from them and into more capable hands. Like Raworth, Klein argues how we must overhaul capitalism and create a system where we can live and do business within the planetary means – and use our democracy to get there. This Changes Everything – Naomi Klein | Guardian Docs – YouTube
What We Need to Do Now by Chris Goodall is quite similar to Gates’ book in that it systematically goes through what we need to do in order to do avoid a global catastrophe with specific UK perspective. Goodall argues that in order to close the energy gap, without bringing the wheels of the world to a complete halt, we need to start deriving hydrogen fuels from renewable energy production. This may be a controversial position, but when bringing up the logistical challenges of a completely electrified air transport (the batteries are simply too heavy and inefficient) the argument stands strong.