Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Books to help you stay inspired to fight climate change » Yale Climate Connections

The year 2023 has already proved tumultuous. Partisan politics threatened to undo the most important climate legislation the U.S. Congress ever passed even as climate-charged weather broke records for weirdness around the world. And the hurricane season has only just begun. Who wouldn’t feel weary at this mid-year point?

In response, Yale Climate Connections has assembled a bookshelf of titles that offer grit, gumption, and inspiration. The 12 titles have been sorted into six pairs that address this challenging moment at different levels and from different angles. Whatever their age, aptitudes, or aspirations, readers will find authors who can reach them where they live.

“The Climate Action Handbook” and “An Environmental Leaders’ Tool Kit” are direct, task-oriented titles. Seeking suggestions for what you can do next? Ready to play a leadership role? These titles offer concise directions for the most effective options.

With “Climate Optimism” and “Working to Restore,” the approach is entrepreneurial. This pair of titles show how initiative and ingenuity can make a difference — and a career.

“Earth for All” and “Five Times Faster” shift the focus to national and international initiatives and policies. And they explain that individual climate action includes making effective political choices.

With “Eco-Emancipation” and “Animal Liberation Now,” the challenges are political and philosophical. To deal effectively with climate change, we must expand our understanding of rights to include nature, especially animals. Livestock farming accounts for 14.5% of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The moral choices we make about animals have climate consequences.

The authors of “Not Too Late” and “The Planet You Inherit” understand the dark emotions that can arise when we contemplate the enormity of climate change. For their readers, they chart paths from climate despair to climate hope.

The last two books offer performative alternatives. The first, “The Future Is Not Fixed,” offers 50 short plays community groups can perform to illustrate equitable climate solutions. The second, “Stay Cool,” extols the value and power of comedy as climate action.

All of these books were published within the last year, 10 within the last six months; none was included in YCC’s January bookshelf on climate activism. In other words, publishing, too, has picked up the pace on climate action. More people are becoming more concerned about climate change. And they’re seeking new ways to take action. None of us is in this alone. Recognizing that can give us all a lift.

As always, the descriptions of the titles are adapted from copy provided by the publishers.

A blue book cover that reads The Climate Action Handbook.

The Climate Action Handbook: A Visual Guide to 100 Climate Solutions for Everyone by Heidi A. Roop (Sasquatch/Penguin Books 2023, 272 pages, 24.95 paperback)

As more focus is put on climate science, there is a need for each of us to learn how we can change our habits in our home, communities, and government to save our planet. Enter The Climate Action Handbook. A visually stunning guide, it does what no other climate change book manages to do: it’s approachable, digestible, and offers the average person ideas, options, and a roadmap for action. It also offers hope. Climate actions can create near-instantaneous improvements in air quality and can offer ways to address societal inequities, green our communities, save money, and build local economies. Dr. Heidi Roop’s 100 climate solutions can help move the needle in the right direction. 

A yellow book cover that reads An Environmental Leader's Tool Kit.

An Environmental Leader’s Tool Kit by Jeffrey W. Hughes (Cornell University Press 2023, 264 pages, $19.95 paperback)

If you want to tackle an environmental problem in your neighborhood but do not know where to start, An Environmental Leader’s Tool Kit can help. In this handbook, Jeffrey W. Hughes shares the proven strategies you need to step up and get meaningful action done. From designing a pilot study to managing contentious public meetings, Hughes walks you through the essentials of effective place-based environmental efforts. Among the tools you will find here are worksheets to kickstart brainstorming, appendixes that demystify jargon you might encounter, and illuminating, real-life examples. Down-to-earth and direct, An Environmental Leader’s Tool Kit is a launchpad for those ready to make a difference now.

A book cover with an abstract illustrated landscape scenes that reads Climate Optimism.

Climate Optimism: Celebrating Systemic Change Around the World by Zahra Biabani (Mango Books 2023, 256 pages, $22.99 paperback)

The fate of humanity can be daunting, but we don’t need to live in that space. First, we need to change our attitude in order to implement nature-based solutions that help mitigate climate change. Good news: there are encouraging environmental trends that will change the way we think about how we can protect the planet. Climate activist, influencer, and CEO, and writer. Zahra Biabani focuses on climate hope, optimism, humor, and doing good things. After establishing a career as an online sustainability educator and influencer her junior year at Vanderbilt University, Zahra jumped head first into the waters of entrepreneurship. Climate Optimism is her way to spread hope.

A yellow book cover that reads: Working to Restore: Harnessing the Power of Regenerative Business to Heal the World.

Working to Restore: Harnessing the Power of Regenerative Business to Heal the World by Esha Chhabra (Beacon Press 2023, 248 pages, $31.95)

Political upheaval and social turmoil have peeled back the glitzy layers of capitalism to reveal an uncomfortable truth: historically, businesses have sourced materials from remote corners of the globe and moved millions of people and tons of cargo—all in the name of profit. But many of today’s startups are rewriting these rules of business. Working to Restore examines revolutionary approaches in nine areas: agriculture, waste, supply chain, inclusivity, gender, travel, health, energy, and finance. Journalist Esha Chhabra highlights how the founders of new companies are moving beyond the greenwashed idea of “sustainability” into a new era of regeneration and restoration.

A black book cover that reads Earth for All.

Earth for All: A Survival Guide for Humanity by Sandrine Dixson-Decleve, Owen Gaffney, Jayati Ghosh, Jorgen Randers, Johan Rockstrom, and Per Espen Stoknes (New Society Publishers 2022, 176 pages, $19.99 paperback)  

Five decades ago, The Limits to Growth shocked the world by showing that population and industrial growth were pushing humanity towards a cliff. Today the world recognizes that we are now at the cliff edge: Earth has crossed multiple planetary boundaries while widespread inequality is causing deep instabilities in societies. Earth For All is both an antidote to despair and a road map to a better future. Using powerful state-of-the-art computer modeling, the authors explore policies likely to deliver the most good for the majority of people. Both accessible and inspirational, with high impact visuals, Earth For All is required reading living well on a fragile planet.

A white book cover that reads Five Times Faster.

Five Times Faster: Rethinking the Science, Economics, and Diplomacy of Climate Change by Simon Sharpe (Cambridge University Press 2023, 344 pages, $24.95)

We need to act five times faster to avoid dangerous climate change. We think we know who the villains are: oil companies, consumerism, weak political leaders. But what if the real blocks to progress are the ideas and institutions that are supposed to be helping us? In our fight to avoid dangerous climate change, science is pulling its punches, diplomacy is picking the wrong battles, and economics has been fighting for the other side. Five Times Faster, an inside story from someone who has spent ten years at the forefront of climate change policy and diplomacy, sets out how we should rethink our strategies and reorganize our efforts so that we can act fast enough to stay safe.

A book cover with a satellite image of green and red land that reads Eco-Emancipation.

Eco-Emancipation: An Earthly Politics of Freedom by Sharon R. Krause (Princeton University Press 2023, 224 pages, $35.00)

In Eco-Emancipation, political scientist Sharon Krause argues that we can find our way to a better, freer life by constraining the use of human power in relation to nature and promoting nature’s well-being alongside our own. This would release Earth from human domination and free us from a way of life that is both exploitative and exploited, complicit and entrapped. Eco-emancipation calls for more-than-human communities that incorporate nonhuman parts of nature through institutions of representation and regimes of rights, combining these new institutional arrangements with political activism, a public ethos of respect for nature, and a culture of eco-responsibility.

A grey book cover that reads Animal Liberation Now.

Animal Liberation Now: The Definitive Classic Renewed by Peter Singer (Harper Collins Publishers 2023, 368 pages, $19.99 paperback)

Few books maintain their relevance nearly 50 years after they were first published. Animal Liberation is one such book. Since its release in 1975, this groundbreaking work has awakened millions of people to “speciesism”— our systematic disregard of nonhuman animals. In the fully revised Animal Liberation Now, Singer covers important reforms in the EU and US but, on the flip side, reveals the huge expansion of factory farming due to the exploding demand for animal products in China. Meat consumption is taking an even bigger toll on the environment—warming the climate, polluting waterways, and spreading new viruses. How we treat animals, Animal Liberation Now explains, remains a profound environmental, social, and moral issue. 

A green book cover that reads Not Too Late.

Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility, edited by Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua (Haymarket Books 2023, 200 pages, $16.96 paperback)

Not Too Late is the book for anyone who is despondent or unsure about climate change and seeking answers. As the contributors to this volume make clear, the future will be decided by whether we act in the present to counter institutional inertia, fossil fuel interests, and political obduracy. These dispatches feature the voices of organizers like Guam-based lawyer and writer Julian Aguon and The Tyranny of Oil author Antonia Juhasz; climate scientists like Dr. Jacquelyn Gill and Dr. Edward Carr; and poets like Marshall Islands activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijner. Guided by Rebecca Solnit’s clear-eyed wisdom, Not Too Late leads readers from climate despair to climate hope.

We’ll be reading Not Too Late as part of Yale Climate Connections’ summer book club. Sign up for our newsletter to receive information about how to participate.

A book cover that reads The Planet You Inherit.

The Planet You Inherit: Letters to My Children When Uncertainty’s a Sure Thing by Larry Rasmussen (Broadleaf Books 2023, $26.99)

Our children’s and grandchildren’s generation will face a different world, one affected by climate instability, mass uncertainty, and breathtaking extinction. In fact, the next generation will face the reality that human activity is changing the planet from one geological epoch to another. As a grandfather invested in a green earth and climate justice as well as a scholar of faith-based earth ethics, Larry Rasmussen writes to his grandchildren about climate change, global citizenship, and democracy in their futures. In his letters, Rasmussen explores the large questions of justice, meaning, and faith, encouraging us to speak to and look to the future generation and their future world. 

A book cover with green illustrated hills that reads the future is not fixed.

The Future Is Not Fixed: Short Plays Envisioning a Global Green New Deal by Chantal Bilodeau (Applause Books 2022, 320 pages, $22.95 paperback)

Can we envision a better world? What if the concept of a Green New Deal—the initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while addressing interwoven social problems like economic inequality and racial injustice—could become reality? The Future Is Not Fixed answers these questions with fifty plays commissioned for Climate Change Theatre Action 2021, a global participatory theatre festival that brings communities together around climate issues. With contributions suitable for both conventional and nonstandard theatrical settings, these plays can be performed in intimate readings, staged productions with extensive sets, and everything in between. Each offers a bracing vision of how we might come together to face the challenge of global climate change.

A book cover with an illustration of a road leading toward hills on fire and a sun with a smily face. It reads: Stay Cool.

Stay Cool: Why Dark Comedy Matters in the Fight Against Climate Change by Aaron Sachs (New York University Press 2023, 176 pages, $22.00)

Human beings have used comedy to cope with difficult realities since the beginning of recorded time—the more dismal the news, the darker the humor. Drawing on this rich tradition, Aaron Sachs makes the case that gallows humor, a mainstay of African Americans and Jews facing extraordinary oppression, can cultivate endurance, persistence, and solidarity in the face of climate change. In Stay Cool, he shows how a new generations of activists and comedians are deploying dark humor to great effect, first to boost their own morale, and then to reframe their activism in more energizing and relatable ways. Will comedy save the world? Not by itself, no. But it can put people in a decent enough mood to get them started on a rescue mission.

Editor’s Note: Readers can find YCC’s interview with Aaron Sachs here.

Source link