The best books about the contested meanings of climate change

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by the weather since as a schoolboy I avidly followed the cricket scores and the fate of tomorrow’s match. This co-dependence of my passion for cricket with the state of the weather turned into a professional career as, first, a research scientist and then later a professor of geography, I studied the idea of climate and the many ways in which it intersects with our social, ecological and imaginative worlds. As human-caused climate change became a defining public and political issue for the new century, my interests increasingly focused on understanding why people think so differently about the climate, its changes, its future trajectory—and what to do about it. 


I wrote...

Why We Disagree about Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity

By Mike Hulme,

Book cover of Why We Disagree about Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity

What is my book about?

Climate change is an environmental, cultural, and political phenomenon which is changing the way we think about ourselves, our societies, and humanity's place on Earth. But changing us not in the same way. In this book, I explain the different ways in which climate change is understood by different people, but even more so why our responses to climate change are so different—why the idea of climate change can inspire technological innovation, the overthrow of capitalism, the emergence of a global government, the unweaving of western civilisation. 

Climate change is more than a singular ‘problem' waiting for a universal ‘solution'. The book uses the standpoints of science, economics, faith, psychology, communication, sociology, politics, and development to explain why we disagree about climate change.  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Power of Narrative: Climate Skepticism and the Deconstruction of Science

Mike Hulme Why did I love this book?

People make sense of their experience of the world through the stories they tell each other. These stories bind people together into social formations. This is as true for climate change as it is for many other bewildering or unsettling phenomenon. Lejano and Nero start from this premise and show how the narrative of climate skepticism has been able to forge a social movement and stake a challenge to the hegemony of the larger community of scientists on what is regarded (falsely) as a matter of science. Using narrative and discourse analysis, richly illustrated with examples, the book takes the reader on a journey, across times and places and social realms; throughout, the power of narrative is revealed, making believers, or skeptics, of us all.

By Raul P. Lejano, Shondel J. Nero,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Power of Narrative as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is an ideological war of words waging in America, one that speaks to a new fundamentalism rising not just within the American public, but across other ideologically-torn nations around the globe as well. At its heart is climate skepticism, an ideological watershed that has become a core belief for millions of people despite a large scientific consensus supporting the science of anthropogenic climate change. While many scholars have examined the role of
lobbyists and conservative think tanks in fueling the climate skepticism movement, there has not yet been a systematic analysis of why the narrative itself has resonated so…


Book cover of How Climate Change Comes to Matter: The Communal Life of Facts

Mike Hulme Why did I love this book?

Too often, climate change debates reduce to throwing around scientific facts – how much warming, how soon will it happen, how many people will it affect, and so on. Candis Callison recognises that such arguments don’t get us very far when deciding what to do. There are different types of facts. In this book she shows why the facts about climate change that really matter in different human worlds – in corporations, in religious groups, amongst journalists, in village communities – are social facts; these are shared ‘facts’ about what climate change means to different social formations. And it is through these diverse communal facts that climate change comes to matter.

By Candis Callison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Climate Change Comes to Matter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the past decade, skepticism about climate change has frustrated those seeking to engage broad publics and motivate them to take action on the issue. In this innovative ethnography, Candis Callison examines the initiatives of social and professional groups as they encourage diverse American publics to care about climate change. She explores the efforts of science journalists, scientists who have become expert voices for and about climate change, American evangelicals, Indigenous leaders, and advocates for corporate social responsibility.

The disparate efforts of these groups illuminate the challenge of maintaining fidelity to scientific facts while transforming them into ethical and moral…


Book cover of Climate Change as Social Drama: Global Warming in the Public Sphere

Mike Hulme Why did I love this book?

For too long, too many earnest people have believed that the key to untying the Gordian knot of climate change lay in science—more science, better science, more precise science, more consensual science. In this beautifully written book, Smith and Howe decisively expose this belief as false. Culture, not science, shapes public perceptions of climate change. The key to acting in the world is to be found in understanding the different ways in which the social drama that is climate change is made meaningful to people. This book is an important read for climate scientists, policy advisors, and activists alike.

By Philip Smith, Nicolas Howe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Climate Change as Social Drama as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Climate change is not just a scientific fact, nor merely a social and political problem. It is also a set of stories and characters that amount to a social drama. This drama, as much as hard scientific or political realities, shapes perception of the problem. Drs Smith and Howe use the perspective of cultural sociology and Aristotle's timeless theories about narrative and rhetoric to explore this meaningful and visible surface of climate change in the public sphere. Whereas most research wants to explain barriers to awareness, here we switch the agenda to look at the moments when global warming actually…


Book cover of Climate Change Scepticism: A Transnational Ecocritical Analysis

Mike Hulme Why did I love this book?

This book examines the idea of climate change from an unconventional standpoint and that says something new and surprising about a topic that has been endlessly written about. Co-written by four literary scholars—hailing from the UK, Germany, the USA and France—it takes seriously the phenomenon of climate scepticism and seeks to understand it by dissecting literary texts originating in these four national cultures. They use the power of literary analysis to turn the question, “Who is a climate sceptic?” into a much more profound and uncomfortable one, “Where within you does your climate scepticism reside?”

By Greg Garrard, Axel Goodbody, George B. Handley , Stephanie Posthumus

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Climate Change Scepticism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is available as open access through the Bloomsbury Open Access programme and is available on www.bloomsburycollections.com. Climate Change Scepticism is the first ecocritical study to examine the cultures and rhetoric of climate scepticism in the UK, Germany, the USA and France. Collaboratively written by leading scholars from Europe and North America, the book considers climate skeptical-texts as literature, teasing out differences and challenging stereotypes as a way of overcoming partisan political paralysis on the most important cultural debate of our time.


Book cover of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren't Enough?

Mike Hulme Why did I love this book?

This short punchy book is written by ex-policy advisor Alex Evans, following his disillusionment with high power international climate politics. Having worked for the British Government and for the UN Secretary-General in the 2000s, Evans realised that scientific evidence and rational arguments were not enough to change the world for the better. In The Myth Gap, he therefore makes the case to recognise – or else to create – different stories, or myths, which provide the orientation and motivation for different people groups to act out change in their own different worlds. No one story will do the job; we need many.

By Alex Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Myth Gap as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why, with absolutely no idea what Brexit actually meant, did the UK vote for Brexit?
Why, rather than vote for the best-qualified candidate ever to stand as US President, did voters opt for a reality TV star with no political experience?
In both cases, the winning side promised change and offered hope. They told a story voters longed to hear. And in the absence of greater, more unifying narratives, then true or not, voters plumped for the best story available.
Once upon a time our society was rich in stories. They brought us together and helped us to understand the…


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Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

Book cover of Radio Free Olympia

Jeffrey Dunn Author Of Radio Free Olympia

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’ve always been a child of the woods. I preferred to leave my home and wade a creek or explore a hillside. Nothing compared to the sight of a black snake or the feel of a mud puppy. School was a torture until an English teacher introduced me to Richard Brautigan and then read my first serious story to the class. Since then, this dyslexic nature lover has become a dream fisher and history miner with a Ph.D. in English Literature and Cultural Studies. Retired from forty-one years of teaching, I now write and publish cultural fiction.

Jeffrey's book list on where imagination and nature run free

What is my book about?

Embark on a riveting journey into Washington State’s untamed Olympic Peninsula, where the threads of folklore legends and historical icons are woven into a complex ecological tapestry.

Follow the enigmatic Petr as he fearlessly employs his pirate radio transmitter to broadcast the forgotten and untamed voices that echo through the wilderness. Venture deeper and encounter Baie, the founder of Wildsisters, a cranberry-infused roadhouse that offers solace to lost and wayward women. When a newborn is kidnapped, Baie and her community must unite to recover what has been stolen. Yet, their quest for justice extends beyond the realm of human characters—it must also be served for the fragile flora, the diverse fauna, and the very essence of the natural world.

Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

What is this book about?

Unleash the Power of the Wilderness in Radio Free Olympia


Discover the captivating allure of Washington's untamed Olympic Peninsula in Radio Free Olympia, an extraordinary literary masterpiece that immerses readers in a mesmerizing realm of visionaries, folklore legends, and historical icons. With an enchanting blend of magical realism and cultural fiction, the brilliant wordsmith Jeffrey Dunn artfully intertwines multiple narratives, crafting an intricate ecological tapestry that resonates deeply within the soul.


Embark on a riveting journey alongside the enigmatic Petr, a foundling whose path leads him deep into the heart of the majestic mountain rainforest. Armed with nothing but a…


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