The best books on the environment

The Books I Picked & Why

Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do about It

By Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, Max Wilbert

Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do about It

Why this book?

Environmentalism was once centered on conserving the living world. Today it’s centered on maintaining human expansion and technologies that are destroying the living world. Bright Green Lies is the central book for understanding this shift and lays the groundwork for the next generation of environmental thinking. The three highly capable authors name the names, disclose the locations, and brilliantly interrogate the lies we've told ourselves. 

There is also a powerful film, Bright Green Lies, based on the book, directed by award-winning filmmaker Julia Barnes.


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Silent Spring (Anniversary)

By Rachel Carson

Silent Spring (Anniversary)

Why this book?

David Attenborough, the natural historian famous for the Planet Earth series, cited Silent Spring as likely the most influential book on the scientific community since Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. It didn’t start out that way. 

Upon its release, author Rachel Carson was accused of everything from being a communist to advocating for genocide. Her astute analysis survived the storm and opened a space for launching the Environmental Protection Agency. Most importantly, her research initiated a public dialogue around the long-term sustainability of the living world.


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Barbaric Heart: Faith, Money, and the Crisis of Nature

By Curtis White

Barbaric Heart: Faith, Money, and the Crisis of Nature

Why this book?

White argues it isn’t enough for environmentalists to simply point a finger at oil drillers and multinational corporations. He instead interrogates how greater humanity has maintained an elusive system of stints and bypasses for what he calls a Barbaric Heart. As citizens of Nature, White maintains we fail ourselves in numerous ways. We call upon the rhetoric and logic of technical, scientific, and bureaucratic systems even though we suspect they might have caused the problem in the first place. 

He points to the value of redefining work into vocations, of reconsidering what we principally consider to be holy and beautiful, and of directing our large brains toward expanding the project of Being rather than the GDP. Like Nietzsche, White believes the purpose of thought is not to locate Truth but rather to make it ever less convenient to lie to ourselves and live in perpetual dishonesty. White doesn’t spoon-feed us remedies for the same reason you can’t feed breakfast to a sleeping person…you must first wake them up.


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The Dying of the Trees by Charles E. Little (1997-04-01)

By Charles E. Little

The Dying of the Trees by Charles E. Little (1997-04-01)

Why this book?

Hauntingly prescient, The Dying of the Trees mounted an investigation into mysterious tree deaths and forest decline that are still spreading today across the United States today. Charles E. Little interviews scientists, government officials, and citizen leaders to investigate a wide range of human-caused impacts. His sobering analysis reveals there isn’t just one cause but many.


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