Reading List

August 11, 2008

I’m going to be a little bit cheeky – but this wonderful reading list was in Saturday’s Guardian, and I’ve literally copied and pasted…. Full article here.

George Monbiot
George Marshall, author of Carbon Detox (Gaia Books), understands the psychology of climate change and our inability to get to grips with it better than anyone else I have read. Mark Lynas’s Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (Fourth Estate) is a lucid and deeply researched account of the predicted impacts of climate change, one degree at a time. In Kyoto2: How to Manage the Global Greenhouse (Zed Books) Oliver Tickell presents a global programme for cutting greenhouse gas emissions that is both radical and realistic.

Caroline Lucas
Seeing Green by Jonathon Porritt (currently out of print) changed my life. After reading it, I marched straight to the office of my local Green party to sign up. George Marshall’s Carbon Detox is an upbeat and inspiring guide to lowering your carbon footprint. The Flood (Saqi Books), Maggie Gee’s dystopian vision of a flooded future, with its well-drawn characters and lively prose, shows how the poor will always be the first to suffer the effects of climate change.

Mark Lynas
In Kyoto2, Oliver Tickell makes a radical suggestion: that instead of trying to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide, we should instead go “upstream” and regulate the production of carbon-based fossil fuels. Think of a garden sprinkler: if you want to stop the lawn getting wet, you don’t try to catch each drop as it falls – you turn off the tap.

The World Without Us (Virgin Books) by Alan Weisman contains a disarmingly simple but wonderfully clever idea: what would the planet look like if we all disappeared overnight? The perfect springboard for a much more engaging and fascinating discussion of humanity’s environmental impact.

Fred Pearce
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics), published in 1962, was environmentalism’s tipping point. Before Silent Spring, we worried about saving wildlife; afterwards we feared our own species would drown in a toxic tide of chemicals. In 1979 came Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (OUP) by James Lovelock. Not since Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species has any book so shaken science’s sense of how our world works. John Reader’s Man on Earth (published in 1988 and currently out of print) is an overlooked masterpiece about the ecology of human cultures.

Leo Hickman
Robert Henson’s Rough Guide to Climate Change (Rough Guides) is the best pocketbook primer on the subject. On its publication in late 2006, it was sent to every MP with a short questionnaire, including the question “How important a concern is climate change?” Hundreds answered, the majority of whom said it was the most pressing issue of our age. Gordon Brown never responded.

Hide Tide by Mark Lynas (Picador) is a journey through the climate change “hot spots” of the world. It’s the testimonies of the people Lynas meets who are already suffering from the onset of climate change that produce the most persuasive argument for us to urgently face up to the challenge ahead.

Laurie David
Earth in the Balance (Longman), written by Al Gore 15 years ago, is doubly fascinating to read now. It makes you realise how much he was right. I devoted myself to the issue of climate change after reading Ross Gelbspan’s Boiling Point (Basic Books). If you look at Keith Bradsher’s High & Mighty (PublicAffairs US), you will never walk past an SUV again without shaking your head.

What Al Gore is to awareness of global warming, William McDonough is to the solution. His Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (Rodale Press) is the only book about the environment that is actually waterproof. Also read anything by Gus Speth or Bill McKibben.


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