The Top 10 Best Books on Climate Change

Rachel Lark - April 22, 2023

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Some effects of climate change are more visible than others, depending on where you are. One of the most effective ways to combat the climate crisis is through education. Plenty of diverse texts exist for nonfiction and poetry fans alike to engage more deeply with environmental literature. The impact of the climate crisis might hit you more if you read a harrowing statistic, while others feel it more strongly written in a novel as a complex allegory. Including a little bit of everything — textbooks to poetry — here are 10 of the best books on climate change.

For Textbook Academics

1. “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” Edited by Paul Hawken

If you’re looking for hopeful evidence humanity is going in the right direction, “Drawdown” is the text to dive into. It is a compilation of a hundred actions by scientists and professors to demonstrate how every individual can incite change in every industry. 

This book touches on how education for girls in lower-income communities helps reverse climate change and how to take care of their well-being during this time. Covering a wide array of topics will surely enlighten everyone from any educational or professional background.

2. “All We Can Save: The Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis” Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Keeble Wilkinson

Johnson and Wilkinson are climate leaders who felt the need to collect a text with a different perspective on climate change — highlighting the impact of feminism. This book demonstrates the creative solutions women provide with professional input ranging from farmers to lawyers. It is multigenre, including poetry and art to complement their climate-driven storytelling. It also includes resources for further education and activism for every inspired reader.

3. “Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet” by Noam Chomsky & Robert Pollin

With the help of the father of modern linguistics, Chomsky and Pollin paint a picture for readers of how the climate crisis will develop — if left unattended. With the Green New Deal as a roadmap for humanity to save itself, this book details how rising temperatures affect every facet of life, like immigration and economic fear.

For Curious Enthusiasts

4. “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming” by David Wallace-Wells

The Guardian referred to this as an “epoch-defining book,” as Wallace-Wells writes one of the most quintessential yet accessible books on life after warming. Some readers wouldn’t be drawn to its more pessimistic worldview. However, it accurately depicts severe weather and its side effects, like wildfires influencing displaced people.

5. “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis” by Tom Rivett-Carnac and Christiana Figueres

What happens if we don’t reach the goals set by the Paris Agreement? That is what this book explores. Rivett-Carnac and Figueres, who both worked on the Paris Agreement, outline a future if we don’t change human behavior, and we did. 

Imagine only being able to sleep a couple of hours a day in certain parts of the world because climate change has made it too hot. What about New York City is primarily green with skyscraper-high building gardens? “The Future We Choose” explores both extremes — one of which will be our reality.

6. “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative” by Florence Williams

Williams crafts a beautiful that will deepen your relationship with the Earth without having to go outside — but you should. “The Nature Fix” takes readers across the world, from Korea to Finland to the United States — using research to prove why nature makes humans happier and healthier. Nature improves everything from interpersonal relationships to physical health.

For Fiction Readers

7. “The Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler

A dystopian treasure, Butler paints a bleak future of how society would react to climate disaster. The story details Lauren’s life as a nomad traversing a landscape of societal collapse and environmental consequences. Throughout the novel, humanity faces the poor decisions made against the planet in an enlightening tale of empathy and sustainability.

One of the best ways to engage new environmentalists in the subject is by recommending books or films. Fiction has a greater approachability and with speculative fiction, it will feel more gripping.

8. “Flight Behaviour” by Barbara Kingsolver

From the acclaimed author of “The Poisonwood Bible,” Kingsolver’s background in biology shines — on Dellarobia’s interaction with a cloud of monarch butterflies. It focuses on environmental fragility and inherent beauty while expounding on the complexities of rural Appalachia. When awareness of this fantastic event catches word with the locals, her home is suddenly overpopulated with the curious. Would that be for the better or worse?

For Poetry Lovers

9. “Turtle Island” by Gary Snyder

Snyder was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1975 with “Turtle Island.” It gazes upon the landscape through a Native American lens, allowing readers to envision a magical world untainted by negative human impact. With a nice mix of essays with poetry, it will appease many kinds of readers while highlighting the importance of respect for the Earth.

10. “Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry” Edited by Camille T. Dungy

In an initiative to publicize more Black voices, Dungy compiled “Black Nature,” which contains an intimate and hard look at environmental racism and slavery’s impact on African American relationships with nature. It is a pillar for creating more diversity in the artistic and environmentalist conversation.

Healing Climate Change With Literature

Poets, researchers and novelists can all depict how the world is affected by the public. There is always wisdom to glean, whether in the future or the past. Every book creates more awareness of the climate crisis and how humans can adjust our behaviors to repair our relationship with the planet — it may just not be in the ways you expect.

Not every piece of environmental literature has to be a list of statistics or a map of troubled species and missing trees. Sometimes, beautifully written prose and poetry about interpersonal relationships with environmental storytelling is enough to inspire the next generation of advocates.

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About the author

Rachel Lark

Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.