Without a doubt, the biggest crisis facing humanity today is climate change. In 1896, over 120 years ago, a fundamental paper by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first predicted that carbon dioxide levels could heavily alter the globe's surface temperature through the greenhouse effect. The world at large was slow to react. Only in recent decades has substantial action been taken to tackle the damage we're causing. Progress has been sluggish and frustrating, but there is still hope. Younger generations are more educated on this issue and far more eager to become the necessary change our home needs. Renewable energy has also become more economical and more effective than ever before. Almost two-thirds of wind and solar projects built in 2020 generated cheaper electricity than the world's cheapest new coal plants.
Environmentalism is a big subject and one that often makes us anxious. It can also be a fascinating and rewarding one, however. We have the tools and power to reshape our world for the better - it just takes pressure and commitment. For those willing to learn more about environmentalism, climate change, and the power of nature, we've collected eight fantastic books that will alter the way you think about these issues no matter the reader's age.
A piece of fiction to get started. British writer J.G. Ballard is regarded as one of the most influential sci-fi writers of the 20th century, and it's this novel that first brought him real plaudits. Included in Time Magazine's 'Top 10 Best Post-Apocalyptic Books' list, the story is regarded as the founding text in the genre known as climate fiction.
After savage solar storms wreak havoc on the world, the polar ice caps melt, causing sea levels to rise. With the majority of the world flooded, a team of scientists research the ongoing environmental developments within an abandoned and drowned London. Released in 1962, the book then seemed like a far-fetched look at the breakdown of society. Today it acts as a remarkably prescient parable on the dangers of climate change.
A refreshingly straightforward and accessible book, environmental journalist Schlossberg details the true impact of electronic technology, food, fashion, and fuel. The modern world's favorite things. In what can often seem like a hopeless conversation, Schlossberg delivers the facts with wry humor and little glimmers of hope. While many first-world readers will admit that they come from a place of privilege and simply stop there, this book aims to spur you into making changes - no matter how large or small. For those wishing to make some positive switches in their life but aren't sure how - this is your guide.
What was once seen as a marvelous new material has now become a bane of modern life - disposable plastic. As Head of Oceans at Greenpeace UK, Will McCallum has been at the heart of the anti-plastics movement for years, channeling his knowledge and passion into this accessible guide. He teaches the reader how to replace certain plastic items with sustainable alternatives, new ways to reduce their plastic waste, and how to advocate for businesses and leaders to make necessary switches to greener methods. The sea is filling with plastic, and it's up to us all to make changes in our daily lives.
The Monkey Wrench Gang was written by American author Edward Abbey in 1975. If you're not familiar with Abbey, he defined himself as an anarchist and was known for his environmental issues advocacy and criticism of public land policies in the USA. His most famous work, The Monkey Wrench Gang, was so influential and widely read that the term 'Monkey Wrench' became synonymous with any sabotage, activism, law-breaking or making to preserve ecosystems and wild spaces.
The book's plot focuses on a gang of 4 misfits who believe that they should do whatever it takes to destroy the system that they see is damaging the environment. Abbey may be controversial, but his influence is cemented in history, with public figures such as David Foreman, founder of Earth First!, using the monkey wrench as their radical environmentalist group's symbol.
If you have turned on the television, opened a news article online, or talked to anyone about environmentalism in the past few years, then you are bound to have heard of Greta Thunberg. Born in Sweden on January 3, 2003, Greta Thunberg is one of the youngest people in history to advocate for climate change policies on a global scale. By the age of 15, she was working with the Swedish parliament, and later in her career, gave numerous speeches to world leaders and The United Nations.
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference is a collection of eleven speeches Thunberg had written and presented about global warming and the climate crisis until its publishing date; May 30, 2019. The young activist continues to fight for awareness to this date, and her book is certainly worth a read for any budding environmentalist.
Our next title may have a few authors on the cover but is actually a collaborative project by over 50 female environmental activists. In 2020, editors Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson collected an array of poems, essays, and thought pieces and compiled them into one book, calling it All We Can Save. The aim was to highlight the wide range of women's voices, all of whom are fighting for the climate change movement to succeed.
All We Can Save is a great read if you are searching for multiple perspectives from people of all backgrounds. Global warming is such an important issue that we should all be looking for various takes, thoughts, and opinions; All We Can Save does that perfectly.
We thought we'd end this list with a book that can appeal to the youngest environmental advocate out there. The Lorax, written in 1971 by the famous Dr. Seuss, is a children's book that dances the thin line between information and entertainment. Written in Seuss's signature style, The Lorax is commonly considered a fable concerning the danger of human destruction and its effect on the environment.
The story follows the plight of the Lorax, who is said to 'speak for the trees’, and the Once-ler, who is the character causing destruction. Through the years, the book has been hailed as one of the greatest picture books of all time, and it has also seen its fair share of criticism, sometimes being labeled a parody. Whatever you take from this Seuss classic, kids will be sure to learn something.
For the budding environmentalist, we hope this list serves as a starting off point into the world of environmentalist issues. Sometimes the road to change can seem a little dark, and that the problems outway the solutions, but everyone has the capacity to be better in their own way. Whether it be changing your habits, becoming an activist, or simply knowing more, it all helps.