Looking for your next book to read?
We know that lots of folks are taking this time to do some quality reading – we are too! – so we thought we’d provide you all with a list of some of the best books out there on climate change and our natural world.
Make sure to purchase your books at your local bookstore or find them at your local library. Right now, Armchair books is doing free book delivery in Squamish and Whistler and offering 10% off when you order online. Also, remember that your Whistler library card gives you access to audio and e-books.
The End of Nature – Bill McKibben McKibben wrote this book in 1989 when global warming was still referred to as “the greenhouse effect.” It was an abstract worry in the future even for environmentalists, who were still reeling from the fight to save the ozone layer. For McKibben the crises were connected and spoke to a bigger problem: a disregard for nature and how humans were capable of harming it.
The Sixth Extinction – Elizabeth Kolbert Reporting from the Andes, the Amazon rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef and her own backyard, Kolbert registers the impact of climate change on the life of our planet. What emerges is a picture of the sixth mass extinction, which threatens to eliminate 20 to 50 percent of all species on Earth within this century.
This Changes Everything – Naomi Klein Forget everything you think you know about global warming. It’s not about carbon – it’s about capitalism. The good news is that we can seize this crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better. It’s about changing the world, before the world changes so drastically that no one is safe. Either we leap – or we sink. This Changes Everything is a book that will redefine our era.
Merchants of Doubt – Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway The story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole.
Windfall – McKenzie Funk A fascinating investigation into how people around the globe are cashing in on a warming world: McKenzie Funk has spent the last six years reporting around the world on how we are preparing for a warmer planet. Funk shows us that the best way to understand the catastrophe of global warming is to see it through the eyes of those who see it most clearly—as a market opportunity.
On Fire – Naomi Klein An expansive, far-ranging exploration that sees the battle for a greener world as indistinguishable from the fight for our lives. With reports spanning from the ghostly Great Barrier Reef, to the annual smoke-choked skies of the Pacific Northwest, to post-hurricane Puerto Rico, to a Vatican attempting an unprecedented “ecological conversion,” Klein makes the case that we will rise to the existential challenge of climate change only if we are willing to transform the systems that produced this crisis.
Field Notes from a Catastrophe – Elizabeth Kolbert In what began as groundbreaking three-part series in the New Yorker in 2006, Kolbert cuts through the competing rhetoric and political agendas to elucidate for Americans what is really going on with the global environment and asks what, if anything, can be done to save our planet. Written in 2006, this book is still relevant to our discussions of climate change today.
The Water Will Come – Jeff Goodell The Water Will Come is the definitive account of the coming water, why and how this will happen, and what it will all mean. As he travels across twelve countries and reports from the front lines, acclaimed journalist Jeff Goodell employs fact, science, and first-person, on-the-ground journalism to show vivid scenes from what already is becoming a water world.
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes – Dan Egan Dan Egan delivers an eye-opening portrait of our nation’s greatest natural resource as it faces ecological calamity. He tells the story of the decimation of native species and he examines new risks, such as unsafe drinking water, the threat of water diversions, and “dead zones” that cover hundreds of square miles of water—while showing how the Great Lakes can be restored and preserved for generations to come.
Losing Earth – Nathaniel Rich By 1979, we knew nearly everything we understand today about climate change–including how to stop it. Over the next decade, a handful of scientists, politicians, and strategists risked their careers in a desperate, escalating campaign to convince the world to act before it was too late. Losing Earth reveals the birth of climate denialism and the genesis of the fossil fuel industry’s coordinated effort to thwart climate policy through misinformation propaganda and political influence.
The Story of More – Hope Jahren At once an explainer on the mechanisms of warming and a capsule history of human development, The Story of More illuminates the link between our consumption habits and our endangered earth, showing us how we can use less and share more. It is the essential pocket primer on climate change that will leave an indelible impact on everyone who reads it.
The Uninhabitable Earth – David Wallace-Wells In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await–food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history.
What we Know About Climate Change – Kerry Emanuel Intended as the book that can be used by those “who are disputing this problem with their own parents or an uncle or something,” Kerry Emanuel, an MIT climatologist gives the facts in a measured, clear way to educate even the least-informed on climate change and what is happening around us.
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of 100 realistic and bold solutions to climate change, based on meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world.
Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy – Hal Harvey, Jeffrey Rissman, and Robbie Orvis We don’t need to wait for new technologies or strategies to create a low carbon future—and we can’t afford to. Designing Climate Solutions gives professionals the tools they need to select, design, and implement the policies that can put us on the path to a livable climate future.
Winning the Green New Deal: Why We Must, How We Can – Varshini Prakash & Guido Girgenti An urgent and definitive collection of essays from leaders and experts championing the Green New Deal—and a detailed playbook for how we can win it—including contributions by leading activists and progressive writers like Varshini Prakash, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Bill McKibben, Rev William Barber II, and more.
Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food – Paul Greenberg Lifelong fisherman Paul Greenberg takes us on a culinary journey, exploring the history of the fish that dominate our menus and investigating where each stands at this critical moment in time. Fish, Greenberg reveals, are the last truly wild food — for now. By examining the forces that get fish to our dinner tables, he shows how we can start to heal the oceans and fight for a world where healthy and sustainable seafood is the rule rather than the exception.
Braiding Sweetgrass – Robin Wall Kimmerer As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.
Last Child in the Woods – Richard Louv Never before in history have children been so plugged in—and so out of touch with the natural world. In this groundbreaking new work, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation—he calls it nature deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends. Parents have the power to ensure that their daughter or son will not be the “last child in the woods,” and this book is the first step toward that nature-child reunion.
The Nature Fix – Florence Williams The Nature Fix demonstrates that our connection to nature is much more important to our cognition than we think and that even small amounts of exposure to the living world can improve our creativity and enhance our mood. In prose that is incisive, witty, and urgent, Williams shows how time in nature is not a luxury but is in fact essential to our humanity.
The Hidden Life of Trees – Peter Wohlleben Drawing on groundbreaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him. As he says, a happy forest is a healthy forest, and he believes that eco-friendly practices not only are economically sustainable but also benefit the health of our planet and the mental and physical health of all who live on Earth.
The Overstory – Richard Powers From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.
Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver Flight Behavior is a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial. Kingsolver’s riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world.
The Bees – Laline Paull In this fantastical debut novel, Laline Paull brings alive the world inside a beehive. Thrilling, suspenseful and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees is an educational escape, giving us a young heroine to root for, while also teaching us about bees, their intricate social hierarchy, and the many threats they face living in a world dominated by human decisions.
The Drowned World – JG Ballard First published in 1962, J.G. Ballard’s mesmerizing and ferociously prescient novel imagines a terrifying future in which solar radiation and global warming have melted the polar ice caps and Triassic-era jungles have overrun a submerged and tropical London. Set during the year 2145, nature has swallowed all but a few remnants of human civilization. Follow Dr Kerens and his team of scientists as they confront a surreal cityscape populated by new and dangerous wildlife.
New York 2140 – Kim Stanley Robinson It is 2140. The waters rose, submerging New York City. But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been, though changed forever. Every street became a canal, every skyscraper an island. Through the eyes of the varied inhabitants of one building, Kim Stanley Robinson shows us how one of our great cities will change with the rising tides. And how we too will change.
The Wall – John Lanchester Ravaged by the Change, an island nation in a time very like our own has built the Wall―an enormous concrete barrier around its entire coastline. Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and are a constant threat. Failure will result in death or a fate perhaps worse: being put to sea and made an Other himself.
Silent Spring – Rachel Carson Read the book that changed our society and brought attention to the devastating effects of the anthropocene. Written in 1962, Rachel Carson (a research biologist) highlights the impact of insecticides, herbicides, and other human-made chemicals that were ravaging the planet and impacting the health of nature and humans alike.
Desert Solitaire – Edward Abbey Written while Abbey was working as a ranger at Arches National Park outside of Moab, Utah, Desert Solitaire is a rare view of one man’s quest to experience nature in its purest form. Through prose that is by turns passionate and poetic, Abbey reflects on the condition of our remaining wilderness and the future of a civilization that cannot reconcile itself to living in the natural world. As the world continues its rapid development, Abbey’s cry to maintain the natural beauty of the West remains just as relevant today as when this book was written.
On The Origin of Species – Charles Darwin Darwin’s theory of natural selection issued a profound challenge to orthodox thought and belief. Yet The Origin of Species (1859) is also a humane and inspirational vision of ecological interrelatedness, revealing the complex mutual interdependencies between animal and plant life, climate and physical environment, and—by implication—within the human world. Written for the general reader, in a style which combines the rigour of science with the subtlety of literature, The Origin of Species remains one of the founding documents of the modern age.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard An exhilarating meditation on nature and its seasons—a personal narrative highlighting one year’s exploration on foot in the author’s own neighborhood in Tinker Creek, Virginia.
A Sand County Almanac – Aldo Leopold First published in 1949, A Sand County Almanac combines some of the finest nature writing since Thoreau with an outspoken and highly ethical regard for America’s relationship to the land.Written with an unparalleled understanding of the ways of nature, the book includes observations of the Wisconsin countryside, informal pieces of writing gathered from forty years of woodland travel, and a philosophical reflection on the issues involved in wildlife conservation.
Black Faces, White Spaces– Carolyn Finney In this time where we are confronting threats to our freedoms, our health, and our future from multiple sources, Finney’s through-provoking exploration of how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans is especially poignant. Bridging the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney examines how racial violence, legacies of slavery, and racialized policies have shaped cultural understandings of the “great outdoors”.
There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities – Ingrid R.G. Waldron In “There’s Something In The Water”, Ingrid R. G. Waldron examines the legacy of environmental racism and its health impacts in Indigenous and Black communities in Canada, using Nova Scotia as a case study, and the grassroots resistance activities by Indigenous and Black communities against the pollution and poisoning of their communities.
A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind – Harriet A. Washington From injuries caused by lead poisoning to the effects of atmospheric pollution, infectious disease, and industrial waste, Americans of color are harmed by environmental hazards in staggeringly disproportionate numbers. But these deadly environments create another insidious consequence: robbing communities of color, and America as a whole, of intellectual power. Featuring extensive scientific research, A Terrible Thing to Waste is sure to outrage, transform the conversation, and inspire debate.
Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future – Mary Robinson Mary Robinson’s mission would lead to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women, many of them mothers and grandmothers like herself. Powerful and deeply humane, Climate Justice is a stirring manifesto on one of the most pressing issues of our time, and a lucid, affirmative, and well-argued case for hope.
Plants of Coastal British Columbia – Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon This easy-to-use field guide features 794 species of plants commonly found along the Pacific coast, including trees, shrubs, wildflowers, aquatic plants, grasses, ferns, mosses and lichens. Rich and engaging notes on each species describe aboriginal and other local uses of plants for food, medicine and implements, along with unique characteristics of the plants and the origins of their names. For both amateurs and professionals, this is the best, most accessible, most up-to-date guide of its kind.
Whistler’s Old and Ancient Tree Map – AWARE and Snowline Ecological Research Contact AWARE or visit Armchair books to get your hands on this new pocket-sized map that guides you to some of the oldest trees and forests around Whistler. With hiking, walking, and snowshoeing tours included, this map includes data from over a decade of tree coring almost 1000 trees and provides information on our local forests and their immense role in the region.