World Book Day was first created by UNESCO in 1995 to mark the worldwide celebration of books and reading around the globe. It recognises books as a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures. It is celebrated every year in the UK and Ireland on 2nd March.
We know reading about climate change can be daunting. It can feel overwhelming. But despair and hopelessness can often lead to inaction. So, if you find yourself feeling guilty about your carbon footprint or are unsure how to make a difference – why not start with reading (or sign up for a Carbon Literacy course!)? While you might not be able to change the planet single-handedly, you can deepen your understanding of the crisis and build your own resilience.
Much of the advice on climate change involves ‘don’t do this’ or ‘stop doing that’. But at The Carbon Literacy Project, we believe in positive, action-focused solutions. So, naturally, we rounded up some essential reads about climate change to widen your perspective on the problems facing our planet through a diverse range of voices from across the globe. It’s crucial to diversify the writing about the climate crisis to ensure a diverse view of the issues at hand, offering an intersectional approach to climate conversations and solutions. To make this list, we asked our team to tell us some of their top recommendations.
When buying these, or any other books, consider shopping locally. Check your local bookseller or independent businesses – it’s a great way to support your local community while reducing your carbon footprint. Can you buy a second-hand copy or borrow it from a friend? Buying from charity shops or retailers that have a socially beneficial model is always a win!
We hope you enjoy this list and feel inspired to make a positive change!
The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
As the UN’s former Executive Secretary and Chief Political Strategist, respectively, no two people might be better positioned to write about climate action. The Future We Choose is a glass-half-full approach towards the climate crisis. It is a kind of climate self-help book for those who often feel overwhelmed and hopeless. The book suggests some practical ways forward, with ten key actions, including a strong focus on individual behaviour change. It is the perfect read for anyone who wants to participate in meaningful climate action.
Under A White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert
Elizabeth Kolbert is amongst world’s most notable literary experts on the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is a proposed geological epoch that describes the most recent period in Earth’s history when human activity significantly started to impact the planet’s climate and ecosystems. Under A White Sky takes a hard look at the new world we are creating. It takes the readers on a journey across the world, looking at some of the most creative and inspiring solutions we have come up with to tackle climate change. In the book, Kolbert says, “solving one set of problems introduces new ones.” She highlights how we need to reconsider our behaviour rather than finding fixes for the symptoms and consequences of that behaviour.
The Hidden Universe: Adventures in Biodiversity by Alexandre Antonelli
In his book, Alexandre Antonelli, the Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, explores the wonders of biodiversity at a genetic, species and ecosystem level. Equal parts scientific and inspirational, the book takes the reader on a tour of the natural world, showing how biodiversity can be both the source and the salvation of our existence.
The Ministry For The Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley’s book, The Ministry For The Future, is a sci-fi climate fiction novel about how the climate crisis could play out. The book takes you on a journey through the carbon-fueled chaos of the coming decades. The author discusses everything from blockchain technology and carbon taxes to eco-terrorists and ice sheet dynamics. The book opens with a brutal heat wave in India that kills millions (as an Indian myself, I’m afraid this almost feels too real!). The book is plausible and thought-provoking but a hopeful vision of how to solve humankind’s biggest problem.
The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet by Leah Thomas
Leah Thomas’s The Intersectional Environmentalist is a quintessential climate read that addresses the lack of fair representation within the climate and environmental movement. Leah Thomas coined the term ‘intersectional environmentalism’ to describe the inextricable link between climate change, activism, racism and privilege. The book reiterates that we cannot save the planet without uplifting the voices of marginalised people and those who have been unheard for too long.
Consumed by Aja Barber
While on the topic of diverse voices, this one is a quick read exploring the links between consumerism, climate crisis and colonialism. The author, sustainability consultant and fair fashion advocate Aja Barber, discusses a need for collective change. Instead of taking the ‘guilt’ approach, Barber begins the book by saying, “It isn’t your fault that over-consumption has become a part of our culture. The likelihood is that you do it, just like I did, because you’ve been taught to.”
The New Possible: Visions of Our World Beyond Crisis. Edited by Philip Clayton, Kelli M. Archie, Jonah Sachs, and Evan Steiner
The New Possible is a collection of 28 brief essays by authors involved in explaining, advocating for, and inspiring social change. The book’s themes include interdependence, community, indigenous and traditional wisdom, the connection between Earth and humanity. This is a book of hope that puts the outcome for the future firmly into our hands, a valuable resource for stimulating our vision of the future we want to see.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Braiding Sweetgrass offers a nuanced discussion of the relationship between western science and indigenous knowledge. As we struggle to imagine a bright future ahead of us, the author reminds the reader that if humans make more effort to restore the land, the land will restore us. She also discusses how we can move towards a new perspective of nature and what we can do to help, protect and honour the land we live on rather than using it and exploiting it.
As Long As Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, From Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker
In this book, academic, activist, and member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, doesn’t just teach the history of Indigenous resistance to environmental destruction. She makes a case for why modern activists must understand this history to build an effective, equitable, and sustainable environmental movement.
We Feed the World: A celebration of smallholder farmers and fishing communities by Gaia Foundation
We Feed the World tells us stories and elevates the voices of the farmers and fishing communities who really feed the world. The book contains a forward by food activist Vandana Shiva and features the work of several world-renowned photographers. The book tells us stories of resilience, community, agroecology, women’s empowerment, and the critical role of seed and food sovereignty in navigating the climate emergency.