The Best Climate Books of 2021, recommended by Sarah Dry

From the power of the individual to effect change to the large-scale government interventions needed, are we close to a tipping point in our efforts to combat climate change? Just in time to get up to speed for COP26, here’s a selection of the best climate books of 2021, selected for us by historian of climate science, Sarah Dry.

The Best Conservation Books of 2021, recommended by Charlotte Smith

Many of us are increasingly alarmed at the damage human beings have done—and continue to do—to the natural world and would love to be better informed about what we need to do to protect our precious environment. Fortunately, every year, the Wainwright Prize picks out the best writing on global conservation—books that are not only informative but highly readable. Here, British journalist Charlotte Smith, chair of the judging panel, talks us through the books that made the 2021 shortlist and why it’s worth reading all of them.

Best Books on the Periodic Table, recommended by Henrik Selin & Noelle Eckley Selin

The periodic table of the elements has been described as “one of the great intellectual achievements of humankind”. Here, Noelle Eckley Selin of MIT and Henrik Selin of Boston University talk us through some of their favourite books about various chemical elements and explain why they’re vital to understanding the world around us.

The Best Eco-Philosophy Books, recommended by Rupert Read

Eco-philosophy concerns itself with the intersection of ecology with philosophy—and particularly our response to industrialisation and manmade climate change. Rupert Read, the philosopher-activist and author of Parents for a Future, selects five of the best books that contemplate eco-philosophy and our place on this Earth.

The Best Conservation Books of 2020, selected by Charlotte Smith

Conservation and the battle against climate change are two of the most pressing issues of our age. But books on the subject have to be readable and enjoyable too, says Charlotte Smith – BBC presenter and judge for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for books on global conservation. Here she highlights the six shortlisted titles that will enchant and inspire you.

The best books on Global Challenges, recommended by Rowan Hooper

Which are the most pressing global challenges we face today? In How to Spend a Trillion Dollars Rowan Hooper, a senior editor at the New Scientist, makes the case for the ones he considers the most urgent. Here, he recommends books that help illuminate some of those challenges—including the amazing resource that is ‘Project Drawdown’.

The Best Books for Long-Term Thinking, recommended by Roman Krznaric

We would all love our economic and political systems to be less short-termist in approach, but how do we set about encouraging a more long-term ethos? Cultural thinker Roman Krznaric, author of The Good Ancestor, recommends five books to get us thinking about the long term, up to ten millennia in the future.

Books on the Deep Future, recommended by David Farrier

What trace of our lives will we leave, and what stories might they tell about us? In Footprints, David Farrier explores how our generation will be remembered in the traces it leaves behind in myths, stories… and the fossil record. Here he talks to Caspar Henderson about books to help reflect on ‘the deep future.’

The Best Climate Books of 2019, recommended by Sarah Dry

In an age when we all need to work together to slow down climate change, which books are the most effective in spurring us to action? Historian of science Sarah Dry, author of Waters of the World, recommends some of the best and most important climate books of 2019.

The Best Climate Change Novels, recommended by James Bradley

The best fiction allows us to hold ideas in our heads about time and space and causality and connection that are difficult to articulate in other ways, argues the Australian author James Bradley. It helps its readers engage with dangers and possibilities that are at the very edge of imagination

The best books on Radical Environmentalism, recommended by Daegan Miller

The shining core of a radical environmentalism is when we open up our circle of concern to include things beyond trees or animals or water to people of all kinds, says the writer and landscape historian Daegan Miller. Here he selects five of the best books that evoke the spirit of the movement.

Nuclear Books, recommended by Richard Wolfson

In science, the word ‘nuclear’ refers to anything to do with the atomic nucleus, whether you’re using it to generate power or create weapons of mass destruction. Here, physicist and science educator Richard Wolfson recommends five books relating to things nuclear, from a book of graphic nonfiction about the Curie family to how fusion can save the planet.

The best books on Climate Change and Uncertainty, recommended by Kate Marvel

‘When we talk about climate change, we sometimes assume people will be swayed by one more graph, one more coherent argument. But that’s not how people work. More facts don’t change minds, and deeply held views don’t always dictate behaviour.’ How, then, to grapple with a future that ‘might be weirder than we realise’? Kate Marvel, Associate Research Scientist at Columbia University and NASA, recommends an essential reading list for those ready to confront climate change and the uncertainties it brings

The Best Cli-Fi Books, recommended by Dan Bloom

Fiction that explores issues of climate change is growing at an unprecedented rate today, says the journalist who coined the phrase ‘cli-fi’, Dan Bloom. Here, he picks the five best books of the field, and introduces us to a globally important, underexplored literary genre

The best books on The Politics of Climate Change, recommended by Naomi Oreskes

‘We’re on a path that is going to lead to tremendous destruction and yet most of us are going about our lives as if nothing particularly special is happening.’ The science of climate change is incontrovertible but deniers persist and political and economic solutions continue to be – systematically – frustrated. Time is running out, says Naomi Oreskes

George Monbiot — with An Essential Reading List

Writer and investigative journalist George Monbiot recommends books that have shaped him, and that are crucial reading for those wishing to navigate the current economic and environmental crises.

The best books on Energy Transitions, recommended by Chris Goodall

The switch to sources of energy other than oil and gas is now well under way, but how long will it be before we can rely on them for the bulk of the world’s power—if ever? Renewable energy expert Chris Goodall gives us a thought-provoking reading list to think about both past and future ‘energy transitions.’

The best books on Chernobyl, recommended by Kate Brown

While widely regarded as the world’s worst nuclear accident, Chernobyl’s legacy remains fiercely contested, with death tolls ranging from 31 to 200,000. MIT historian Kate Brown, who has spent years in the Chernobyl archives, picks the best books on the disaster, compares its impact with atomic bomb testing, and argues for more research into low-dose radiation exposure

The best books on Ice, recommended by Mark Serreze

Ice and humanity have always been close partners, says Mark Serreze, director of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center. But this relationship is changing fast as polar ice melts. Here he selects five books that fed his fascination.

The best books on Wilderness, recommended by Mark Boyle

Author and environmentalist Mark Boyle lived for three years without money; now he lives entirely off-grid and eschews all forms of modern technology, in search of a wilder way of living—and of being more in tune with the natural world. Here he discusses his literary inspirations: the best books on wilderness.

The best books on Asia’s Rivers, recommended by Victor Mallet

Human history has been founded on the banks of great rivers – but in the East they are increasingly the focus of bitter international and environmental dispute, says Victor Mallet, the journalist and author of River of Life, River of Death. Here he selects five brilliant books that profile Asia’s most celebrated waterways.

The best books on The Anthropocene, recommended by Gaia Vince

In 2015 Gaia Vince became the first woman to win the Royal Society’s science book of the year prize for her book, Adventures in the Anthropocene. She spent two years on the road investigating how communities across the world are coping with climate change. Here, she shares the five best books on climate change and the Anthropocene – the geological epoch of man.

The best books on Uncivilisation, recommended by Paul Kingsnorth

Paul Kingsnorth, co-founder of the Dark Mountain project, urges the need for uncivilisation: the process of getting beyond our human assumptions, such as the myth of unfailing linear progress. It is about looking at humanity in the wider context of the whole planet, and the imminent ecological crisis.

The best books on Solar Power, recommended by Bob Johnstone

Former Wired contributing editor and MIT Science Journalism Fellow, Bob Johnstone, explains why the Germans lead the world in solar energy and how financial innovation is changing the game in the US. He picks the best books on solar power.

The best books on Earth History, recommended by Adam Maloof

Just as no one can study political science without a basic understanding of human history, or study a modern animal without a basic understanding of evolution, so no one can understand climate change without understanding the Earth’s history, argues the Princeton geology professor.