Knowledge is power: arm yourself with facts and figures about the climate crisis with these compelling and informative reads.
With endless headlines, breaking news notifications and front pages constantly reminding us of the ongoing climate crisis, it can be difficult to feel optimistic about the future of our planet.
In the last week, we’ve heard about the funeral which took place to commemorate Iceland’s first dead glacier and learnt that microplastics are literally falling from the sky in the Arctic – and that’s just the stories which rose to public attention.
With all this going on in the background, it’s no wonder that many of us are finding ourselves suffering from eco-anxiety, that feeling of stress and worry which comes from the ongoing climate crisis. In fact, it can sometimes feel like we really are helpless: in the face of such huge challenges, is eating more vegan meals, changing from plastic to paper straws, or refraining from buying fast fashion really going to help?
The answer is yes, because thousands of small actions add up to make significant change. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still feel despondent.
So the next time you’re feeling anxious over the state of the environment or worried about the best reuseable bottle to buy, arm yourself against the arrival of the inevitable eco-anxiety – with knowledge.
These nine books will arms you with all the knowledge you need about climate change and the environment, from the big picture through to what you can do that really helps, and inspire you to keep going.
No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
Activist Greta Thunberg may only be a teenager, but she speaks truth to power with the confidence of a middle-aged, straight, white man. In August 2018, then aged 15, Thunberg decided not to go to school for the day to protest about climate change. Her actions led to a global movement, inspiring students across the world to go on strike and force their governments to listen. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference is a collection of Thunberg’s speeches, and will arm you with the inspiration needed to do your bit in the fight against climate change.
No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference is out now (Penguin, £2.99).
Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert
Environmental writer Elizabeth Kolbert’s book developed out of a three-part series about climate change in The New Yorker. The book was originally published in 2007, but given that the environmental threat to our planet has only grown since then, remains a classic. It’s now been updated, with new chapters on ocean acidification, the tar sands, and a Danish town that’s gone carbon-neutral. Covering a variety of topics, this is a must-read for anyone interested in our planet.
Field Notes from a Catastrophe is out now (Bloomsbury, £8.99).
Losing Earth: The Decade We Could Have Stopped Climate Change by Nathaniel Rich
In the decade following 1979, scientists, politicians and strategists led a campaign to convince the world to act on climate change before it was too late. Their story is told by Nathaniel Rich in Losing Earth, which also looks into the birth of climate denialism and the start of the fossil fuel industry’s effort to thwart climate policy, before bringing the story into the present day. To change the future, we must first understand our past, and Losing Earth is a crucial part of that when it comes to the environmental battles we’re facing.
Losing Earth is out now (Picador, £14.99).
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein
The first of two books by Naomi Klein on this list, This Changes Everything exposes the myths clouding the debate on climate change. Klein’s provocative book argues that the financial markets and an addiction to profit and growth is digging us deeper into the environmental crisis. Arguments that it is impossible to get rid of fossil fuels are untrue, as are theories that humanity is too greedy and selfish to rise to the challenge. This Changes Everything is an international bestseller, and continues to be as relevant and shocking as it was when it was first published five years ago.
This Changes Everything is out now (Penguin, £10.99).
Why Women Will Save the Planet
Big cities, with their often high levels of pollution, can be seen as a major problem when it comes to climate change. But big cities can also help be part of the solution for climate change, especially if women are empowered, argues Why Women Will Save the Planet. Showcasing pioneering city mayors, key voices in the environmental and feminist movements, and academics, the essays in this book make the case for women’s empowerment for climate action and the powerful change it can bring. Why Women Will Save the Planet is a collaboration between the charity Friends of the Earth and C40 Cities, a network of megacities committed to addressing climate change.
Why Women Will Save the Planet is out now (Zed Books, £9.99).
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells
The Uninhabitable Earth is unflinching in its diagnosis of the climate change problem, but the kind of honesty it displays is much needed. In the last 30 years we’ve released more carbon into the atmosphere than in the rest of human history, and in The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells paints a portrait of the changes global warming will wreak on our planet in the decades to come. Terrifying yet motivating, this will change how you talk about climate change.
The Uninhabitable Earth is out now (Allen Lane, £20).
There is No Planet B by Mike Berners-Lee
It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to what we can do to save the environment. Should we become vegetarian? Or vegan? Should we cut out plastics? Should we fly? In There is No Planet B, Mike Berners-Lee plots a practical course of action for us. Filled with facts and analysis, There is No Planet B lays out the big-picture perspective on climate change and the environment, and then traces it through to the underlying roots, giving us practical and inspiring ideas for what we can actually do that will help humanity thrive on earth.
There is No Planet B is out now (Cambridge University Press, £9.99).
On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi Klein
On Fire is a collection of Naomi Klein’s writing from the last 20 years. The essays, reports and lectures are combined with new material on the high stakes of what we choose to do next. Throughout, Klein investigates the climate crisis not only as a profound political challenge but also as a spiritual and imaginative one. Expansive and far-ranging, this captures the urgency of the fight against climate change.
On Fire is out on 17 September (Penguin, £17.99).
This Is Not a Drill by Extinction Rebellion
You won’t have missed Extinction Rebellion - climate change activists from the movement recently protested in London, where it disrupted sites including Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square and Oxford Circus, and Edinburgh, as well as cities across the world. The first part of This Is Not a Drill looks at what the climate emergency means, while the second part will be a handbook for activists. Contributors include Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
This Is Not a Drill is out now (Penguin, £6.99).
Images: Supplied by publishers