Books to inspire you to save the planet
Empower, inspire and educate yourself with the best books about climate change – from a Pulitzer-winning novel to a polemic essay collection.
The pop songs and poets tell us we can't buy love, but there's no changing consumerist culture. Psychologist Bruce Hood delves deep into the roots and repercussions of our obsession with possessions. In Possessed he draws on historical data and new research to explain how our emotional relationship with ownership has shaped human development and continues to control us.
In lively, but informative prose, he traces the origins of ownership, the ceaseless need for more, connections to social status and self worth, before finally reflecting on how we can learn to let go and break the cycle.
As human consumption patterns are the most significant factor in global warming, this book is as much about saving the planet as saving you space and money.
When it comes to climate change, it's the young teaching the old. Sixteen-year-old activist Greta Thunberg is forcing the world to pay attention and take action to reduce emissions. She has rallied the young by organising school strikes, and she has roused world leaders by delivering speeches at global summits.
No One is Too Small to Make a Difference is collection of 11 of Thunberg's speeches, each inspiring us to work towards a better future.
Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine, No Logo) combines prophecy, philosophy and lucid prose to challenge accepted thinking. On Fire gather gathers a decade of her essays on the subject of climate change, tracing the causes and context to build a case for a Green New Deal.
The sheer innovation of Klein’s reasoning legitimises the clichéd concept of a ‘thought leader’, and her ideas are communicated with clarity and urgency. Instead of focussing on the power of small changes on an individual level, she emphasises the need for institutional reform. Yes, the accounts of climate crises from all around the world make for alarming reading, but with each essay Klein reinforces the importance of enforcing a solution.
Nine strangers are united by catastrophe in Richard Powers’ extraordinary novel about the destruction of an ancient forest. The Overstory, which won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize and was shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, is a paean to the natural world. Trees loom large over the whole story – serving as the seeds for the plot and the root for the poetic prose.
Form mirrors content as the book comprises a web of back stories that converge into the trunk of action before spreading into the canopy and finally leaving seeds of promise for the future. And beyond the symbolic appeal of trees, the novel explores the very real impact of deforestation and fossil fuels.
The result is absorbing, thought-provoking and more than enough incentive to embrace your inner tree-hugger.
Bright colours and zany rhymes make this fable about saving the planet zing with life. The funny, furry Lorax is an eco warrior to inspire all ages as he works to save the Truffula tress from the Once-ler's axe. Dr Seuss's rhyming picture book is a classic, but its exploration of corporate greed and ethical farming feel especially relevant to a new generation of kids.
Your diet has implications well beyond your own health: industrial farming impacts the planet, too. In his bestselling study Eating Animals and its follow-up We Are The Weather, Jonathan Safran Foer makes a personal and potent case for drastically changing our attitude towards food.
Advocating a plant-based diet without patronising or demanding that everyone goes cold turkey, he collates evidence and argues for small changes. Diet can be an emotive minefield, rife with guilt-tripping and preaching, but Safran Foer focuses on changing the way we think instead of just the way we eat. And there's certainly something exhilarating in the doctrine that we can have a positive impact on climate change simply by tweaking what we have for breakfast.
With frivolous trends, pressure to buy, buy, buy, and unsustainable manufacturing, the fashion industry can feel at odds with eco activism. But journalist Elizabeth L Cline explains how you can take pleasure in clothes without impacting the planet.
Part style guide, part manifesto, The Conscious Closet is a practical solution to enjoying fashion responsibly. From exploring the damaging effects of fast fashion to guiding you through an ethical wardrobe cleanse, the book gives you the tools and the knowledge to boost both morals and style.
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