5 + 1 must-read books on climate change solutions

This is a non-exhaustive list of recommended readings to get you up to speed regarding ideas, concepts and inspiration for climate change solutions. The focus here is not so much on the causes and consequences of the climate crisis per se, but rather on solutions, both everyday choices that each of us can make for a more sustainable lifestyle as well as actions that politicians, governments and decision makers should consider. Miss a good book here that you want to recommend? Leave a comment below!

1. A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future (David Attenborough)

This is award-winning natural historian Sir David Attenborough’s witness statement of accelerating climate change and biodiversity loss unfolding during his lifetime. In the first part, Attenborough summarizes the scientific facts in a comprehensible way, but also gives a first-hand, autobiographic account of a man who has dedicated his life to the exporation and documentation of nature.

It is fascinating to hear Attenborough explain the complexities of biodiversity, how different species are intricately dependent on each other, and why we humans ourselves are dependent on a rich and well-functioning biosphere.

In the second part of the book Attenborough presents solutions to counter climate warming and biodiversity loss, and presents concepts like renewable energies, food and waste management and rewildering. This book is highly recommended. Liste to it as audio book and you get the additional benefit to listen to Attenborough’s gentle voice.

We often talk of saving the planet, but the truth is that we must do these things to save ourselves. With or without us, the wild will return.

– Sir David Attenborough

2. Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution (Peter Kalmus)

Peter Kalmus is data scientist at NASA and a project scientist at UCLA’s Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science & Engineering. His book “Being the Change” has received the 2017 IPPY Awards in the category “Books Most Likely to Save the Planet”. In part one, Kalmus presents the current state of the planet in an engineers, matter-of-fact way: overpopulation, global warming, industrial agriculture, growth-addicted economics, a sold-out political system, but also a thoughtful and compassionate observation of humans disconnection with nature. Kalmus scientific analysis and presentation of the scientific facts around global warming are detailed, very well-researched, often appropriately teffifying, and probably everything a layperson ever wants to know about the physical causes and consequences of the climate crisis.

If you however feel you have a good understanding of climate change are more keen on solutions, you may want to skip to part two, where Kalmus presents a wide range of climate change solutions, most of which he himself has implemented in his own life. Ranging from individual-level climate actions, such as riding the bike, opting out of flying or backyard gardening, to systemic changes, such as rewildering and economic incitaments to de-carbonize our societies, Kalmus lays out a toolbox with many choices to pick from. He also presents a way to estimate your own carbon footprint, a useful first step on a journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

“We are like water molecules in a wave: we simultaneously transmit the wave and are moved by it. No one water molecule causes the wave, but together an enormous number of water molecules carry the wave. It’s all of us together, carried by a resonance, that will effect great change.”

– Peter Kalmus

3. How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference (Rebecca Huntley)

For a long time scientists and climate activists believed that the lack of decisive public climate action was due to an information deficit: If people only would receive enough information and scientific facts about climate change and its consequences, it would, through rational conclusions, move them into effective action and problem solving. This one-way communication style, where scientific experts aim to educate a yet naive non-expert crowd, (also known as the information deficit model of communication) did, however, not work.

In her book “How to talk about climate change in a way that makes a difference” australian author, lawyer and researcher Rebecca Huntley explains why, and how to communicate in a more direct, emotional way that connects with the listener. She lays out why it may backfire to put fear, shame or guilt on your opponent, and why compelling storytelling of hope, pride and love may be a better, more constructive way to engage the disengaged and persuade the doubtful. If you think that what we need right now is more and better conversations between people that think differently, this is the book for you.

“When it comes to climate change, we need to stop laying out the rational and start being emotional.”

– Rebecca Huntley

4. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (Paul Hawken)

In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air.

The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. If deployed collectively on a global scale over the next thirty years, they represent a credible path forward, not just to slow the earth’s warming but to reach drawdown, that point in time when greenhouse gases in the atmosphere peak and begin to decline. These measures promise cascading benefits to human health, security, prosperity, and well-being—giving us every reason to see this planetary crisis as an opportunity to create a just and livable world.

“We see global warming not as an inevitability but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change, a pathway that awakens creativity, compassion, and genius. This is not a liberal agenda, nor is it a conservative one. This is the human agenda.”

― Paul Hawken, editor of Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

Visit Project Drawdown’s homepage for more online resources.

5. The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis (Christiana Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac)

In The Future We Choose, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac – who led negotiations for the United Nations during the historic Paris Agreement of 2015 – have written a cautionary but optimistic book about the world’s changing climate and the fate of humanity. The authors outline two possible scenarios for our planet.

In one, they describe what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris climate targets. In the other, they lay out what it will be like to live in a carbon neutral, regenerative world. They argue for confronting the climate crisis head-on, with determination and optimism. The Future We Choose presents our options and tells us what governments, corporations, and each of us can and must do for a sustainable future on our planet.

“We can no longer afford to assume that addressing climate change is the sole responsibility of national or local governments, or corporations or individuals. This is an everyone-everywhere mission in which we all must individually and collectively assume responsibility.”

― Christiana Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac

+ 1 bonus recommendation:
The Climate Book (Greta Thunberg)

Hot off the press comes Greta Thunberg’s latest release. “The Climate Book” is the essential handbook for making it happen. Thunberg has gathered the wisdom of over one hundred experts – geophysicists, oceanographers and meteorologists; engineers, economists and mathematicians; historians, philosophers and indigenous leaders – to equip us all with the knowledge we need to combat climate disaster. Alongside them, she shares her own stories of demonstrating and uncovering greenwashing around the world, revealing how much we have been kept in the dark.

This is one of our biggest challenges, she shows, but also our greatest source of hope. Once we are given the full picture, how can we not act? And if a schoolchild’s strike could ignite a global protest, what could we do collectively if we tried? We are alive at the most decisive time in the history of humanity. Together, we can do the seemingly impossible. But it has to be us, and it has to be now.

“No one is too small to make a difference.”

– Greta Thunberg

Cover photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

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