The best books on the climate crisis

The Books I Picked & Why

Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made

By Gaia Vince

Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made

Why this book?

Gaia’s book came out at a time when climate change wasn’t a hot literary topic and Greta Thunberg hadn’t yet painted “Skolstrejk för Klimatet” on a sign. The Anthropocene marks a new Geological age, the Age of Humans, and Gaia, an editor at Nature, set out to discover what that means for the planet, her, and us. In her words: "I set out to discover whether our species will survive, and how". In so doing she became the first female winner of the Royal Society science book prize.


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There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years

By Mike Berners-Lee

There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years

Why this book?

Rather than weaving a literary narrative, Berners-Lee's aim is to offer something more practically helpful: a handbook for climate action. It’s essentially the FAQs page to the climate crisis. What is Ocean Acidification and why does it matter? Should I fly? How could one crop save us over half a billion tonnes of CO2e? He‘s done the calculations so we don’t have to.  


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Our Biggest Experiment: An Epic History of the Climate Crisis

By Alice Bell

Our Biggest Experiment: An Epic History of the Climate Crisis

Why this book?

Alice Bell offers a full history of climate science, from Eunice Newton Foote’s early CO2 experiments in the 1850s, to Thomas Edison, Big Oil, the formation of the IPCC, and beyond. Given such a pressing crisis, we can often get caught up with the here and now – Bell’s book allows us to take a step back and remind ourselves how we got here, and learn the lessons from history. 


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Forecast: A Diary of the Lost Seasons

By Joe Shute

Forecast: A Diary of the Lost Seasons

Why this book?

Joe Shute’s book brings us right up to date, opening with the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, and that strange, momentary blip of nature remerging as humans retreated to their homes. Shute looks at the climate crisis through the window in more ways than one – how seasons and weather patterns are changing, and how that shifts our cultural and ancestral connections with nature. It’s a poetic read told by a true nature lover. 


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Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art

By Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art

Why this book?

This is my leftfield choice, as Wragg Sykes’s book is a history of our lost Eurasian ancestors, the Neanderthals. But climate change is a very real and foreboding presence throughout this book. Neanderthals lived through major, rapid changes in climate, from temperate forests to the deep freeze of ice ages, and survived. Reading about how past humans lived through climate crisis gives some hope, but also brings home the sobering reality of what it takes and what is lost.


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