A lot of the US is literally on fire right now. Sometimes, when events like this happen, it’s difficult to bring myself to learn more about them. It’s already depressing, and then the more you learn, it only becomes more so. But on the other hand, I feel as though it’s a worthwhile endeavor — to learn more about our planet and our impacts upon it. We’ve pulled together a list of some of our favorite books on the subject. These are ones that while, somewhat depressing, are ultimately, we think, hopeful. And hopefully there’s something in it for everyone, from well-seasoned environmentalists, to those who can’t stand narrative non-fiction.
In 1989, Bill McKibben penned a piece in the New Yorker declaring “the end of nature.” Thirty years later, not much has changed. McKibben argues that the survival of the planet is dependent on a philosophical shift in the way we relate to nature. This tenth anniversary edition is especially interesting as it depicts the progress of climate change and the time lost to stave it off.
We are in the midst of a sixth, man-made extinction. Elizabeth Kolbert illustrates the specific species lost to climate change and global warming, and compares the ecologies of today with prehistoric extinction events. Without meaning to or not, we humans are deciding which evolutionary pathways will be closed forever.
Jonathan Safran Foer doesn’t tell you not to eat meat, but instead, illuminates the fact that farming practices have become unethical, environmentally damaging, and dangerous to our bodies. Like the other books on this list, it doesn’t toil in the science of global warming as frequently, but it can lead to a life-changing perspective that aims towards a better, more sustainable lifestyle.
Wallace-Wells’ writing is spellbinding. He guides the reader through what the future will look like – how warming will transform not only politics, but technology, nature, and capitalism itself. It’s really a must-read to understand that the effects of global warming are far more than just the sea-levels rising and increasing temperatures.
If you’re not a fan of narrative nonfiction, The Overstory is a novel that will make you never look at a tree the same way again. It’s a sweeping work filled with activism and resistance that illustrates the interconnectedness of all living things. I’ve never read another book quite like it.
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