The Top 10 Nonfiction Climate Change Books You Should Read in 2021
Written by: Christianne Taylor
Whether you’re hoping to read your first climate change book, are looking to expand your understanding of the climate crisis, or need inspiration on how to move forward and take action, this list will help you find the right nonfiction climate change books to read in 2021.
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson
Reading All We Can Save serves as a much-needed reminder that saving the planet can be delightful; We can simultaneously deepen our relationship with the earth and with each other. This climate change book weaves together the voices of women at the forefront of the climate crisis— scientists, writers, policymakers, artists, and others— in a beautiful and empowering way for readers. All We Can Save is a mix of essays, poetry, and art that holds together truths of what has been done to the world with courage and solutions for moving forward. “To change everything, we need everyone.”
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken
Read Drawdown to gain insights on the multitude of technologies that could sequester greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and eventually reverse global warming. Experts from all walks of life offer their solutions in a reader-friendly manner so that you can finish the book with a healthy dose of optimism for facing the climate crisis. The book ranks solutions to the climate crisis in terms of their impacts and provides projections for how much each solution could reduce carbon emissions. Plus, if you’re looking for career path ideas related to solving the climate crisis, Drawdown is a climate change book that offers plenty of inspiration.
The New Climate War by Michael E. Mann
Distinguished Atmospheric Science Professor, Michael E. Mann, recently published The New Climate War to pull readers out of climate despair and inform them on how to take action on this battle for our planet. Mann describes how fossil fuel companies have waged a thirty-year campaign deflecting blame and responsibility for climate change. Their successful campaign placed an inordinate emphasis on individuals as responsible for fixing climate change, leaving many people to feel guilty about a crime they did not commit. Mann offers a plan for forcing our governments and corporations to wake up and make real change while giving readers a path to join the movement.
The Future Earth by Eric Holthaus
Read this for a hopeful take on climate change that offers several strategies for reaching carbon-zero over the next three decades. Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist turned climate journalist who offers world-class reporting and interviews with expert biologists, economists, and more in this book. The Future Earth also invites readers to reimagine our relationship with the earth and our shared humanity with each other.
Tales of Two Planets, edited by John Freeman
Read this climate change book to hear stories from Haiti to Bangladesh, from those who hail from places under the most acute stress from the climate crisis. Tales of Two Planets includes essays, fiction, poems, and reportage from around the world to illustrate the dire inequalities that are further exacerbated by climate change, bringing more human context to your understanding of a complex crisis.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein
This is a climate change book that will educate then motivate the reader, rather than paralyzing the reader with fear. This book brings together the science, psychology, economics, geopolitics, ethics, and activism that shape the climate crisis conversation. Naomi Klein describes how our economic system and planetary system are at war. She takes us back to the origin of the problem then maps a course of liberation, offering a hopeful path for tackling the climate crisis. Although the book was published in 2015, it remains a brilliant resource for understanding why we need to restructure the global economy and remake our political systems to most effectively save the planet.
Read this for a concise, approachable overview of climate change. Hope Jahren provides a pocket-size primer on environmental problems and solutions without paralyzing readers in fear. She implements tidbits of her own personal history to give readers a main character to root for alongside the science of the book.
The Water Will Come by Jeff Goodell
We need to take dramatic steps to prepare for the rising seas. The facts presented in this well-researched book will be unforgettable after you finish reading, especially if you live on the coast. Author Jeff Goodell travels the world to cities at highest risk of vanishing from sea level rise and interviews influential people along the way— people like former President Barack Obama or real estate developers in Miami. Read this for an excellent illustration of how sea level rise will reshape our world.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Elizabeth Kolbert reports from the Amazon rain forest, the Great Barrier Reef, her own backyard, and everywhere that plant and animal loss are rapidly occurring. She examines human contributions to climate change in what scientists are calling the sixth mass extinction. Many of us struggle to contemplate our species’ responsibility in destroying our planet’s ecology, but The Sixth Extinction explains this reality clearly through analysis and personal narratives. Read this for a look at earth’s previous mass extinctions and for a compelling call to action to determine, as Kolbert writes, “which evolutionary pathways will remain open and which will forever be closed.”
Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It by Jamie Margolin
This book serves as a guide to change-making, with advice on writing and pitching op-eds, organizing successful events, utilizing media to spread messages, and sustaining long term action. Former Vice President Al Gore summarized the author and book well, stating, “Jamie Margolin is among the powerful and inspiring youth activists leading a movement to demand urgent action on the climate crisis. With determined purpose and moral clarity, Jamie is pushing political leaders to develop ambitious plans to confront this existential threat to humanity. Youth To Power is an essential how-to for anyone of any age who feels called to act to protect our planet for future generations.”