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Must-Read Books About The Environment and Climate Change

by Ellie Harrison

6min read

One positive of lockdown is the free time we've had to read the books that have been gathering dust on our shelves for years. Because as well as beating the boredom, it's a great way to explore the earth around us and our impact, without even leaving the sofa.

Here are our favourite books on sustainability, climate change and environmentalism.

How bad are bananas cover picture

1. How Bad are Bananas? - Mike Berners-Lee

There is, of course, no step-by-step guidebook for becoming an eco warrior, but this comes pretty close. Mike Berners-Lee (brother of Tim Berners-Lee AKA the inventor of the internet, no biggie) is a lecturer at Lancaster University, consultant, AND carbon footprint researcher and writer. Phew. If you think that means it’s going to be a dry read, think again. But This book is a genuine page-turner that will question your assumptions on everything from the texts you send to the jeans you buy. Ultimately it helps the reader make informed decisions and channel their energy into the most impactful actions. 

This changes everything book cover

2. This Changes Everything - Naomi Klein

If you’re after something a little (a lot) less reductive, are ready to tackle questions at the very core of our society and have a clear calendar*, then this is the book for you. But seriously, if you’re a big-picture thinker, open to an interesting take on what might be driving major global issues, and why we struggle to grasp things as big as climate change, then do pick this up. 

* It took me over a year to get through this 

The Uninhabitable Earth Book Cover

3. The Uninhabitable Earth - David Wallace-Wells

Admittedly not one for the faint-hearted, this book is nothing short of brutal. Wells makes no attempt to sweeten his vision of the future we’re hurtling towards, serving as a major wake-up-call. Expect to have the mirror held up to complacency and learn things you didn’t want to, but,importantly, expect to be compelled to action more than ever. 

There is No Planet B book cover

4. There is No Planet B - Mike Berners-Lee

Guess who? Mike is back with another game-changer. Again offering the reader a path through climate change, but this time it’s about addressing our values that allow us to carry on as usual when countries are literally on fire. But don’t worry, at the end of each chapter (inc. food, economic growth, energy, travel) he still offers steps for addressing the issue at all levels (individual, business, govt.), making the theoretical very real. What a guy.

Inheritors of the Earth book cover

5. Inheritors of the Earth - Chris D. Thomas

If you want something a little more positive-leaning, this one’s for you. . It’s a fascinating take on the resilience of nature, how we’re often exclusively concerned with declining populations of ‘celebrity’ species like elephants, but less so with the humble ant. If you shift this focus you can see that biodiversity isn’t doing as horribly as we might have thought. It’s a ray of hope, as long as you don’t mind another few million sparrows kicking about.

Finally, do what I mostly fail to do, and borrow these if possible or buy from local, independent or secondhand sellers like these lot:

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