The best books that discuss the environmental crisis and possible solutions

Haydn Washington Author Of A Sense of Wonder Towards Nature: Healing the Planet Through Belonging
By Haydn Washington

Who am I?

My passion is life, hence why I became an environmental scientist, and why I became a conservationist at age 18, leading the campaign to protect Wollemi National Park in Australia. My sense of wonder towards nature has transformed my life. As Aldo Leopold observed, we ‘live in a world of wounds’ as the ‘more-than-human’ world is rapidly declining. But it doesn’t have to be this way, positive if challenging solutions exist. Hence why I write about environmental science, ecological economics, ecological ethics, denial, human dependence on nature, meaningful sustainability, and what we each can do to give back to Nature.


I wrote...

A Sense of Wonder Towards Nature: Healing the Planet Through Belonging

By Haydn Washington,

Book cover of A Sense of Wonder Towards Nature: Healing the Planet Through Belonging

What is my book about?

We will not solve the environmental crisis unless we change our worldview and ethics, and hence rejuvenate our sense of wonder towards Nature. The book focuses on humanity’s relation with Nature, and the sense of wonder and belonging common to Indigenous cultures and children everywhere. What is a sense of wonder, what it has been called in different cultures, and what are our ‘high points’ of wonder? It looks at the ‘Great Divide’ in worldview between anthropocentrism and eco-centrism, arguing the focus should be on harmony with Nature. How has wonder become buried in Western society? It shows how wonder helps humanity to become ‘whole’ and presents the road back to wonder.

The books I picked & why

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Ecological Ethics: An Introduction

By Patrick Curry,

Book cover of Ecological Ethics: An Introduction

Why this book?

Patrick Curry tackles the great hidden issue of ethics – whether we extend moral standing to nonhuman nature. He considers anthropocentrism and instead proposes ecocentrism. This is a big topic but Curry provides an excellent introduction for the general public to think about this essential issue.


A New Environmental Ethics: The Next Millennium for Life on Earth

By Holmes Rolston III,

Book cover of A New Environmental Ethics: The Next Millennium for Life on Earth

Why this book?

Rolston discusses the need for new environmental ethics, in effect an ‘Earth Ethics’. Beautifully written, Rolston considers how humanity values nature, and the need to change our path to reach an ecologically sustainable future.


Sustaining Life on Earth: Environmental and Human Health through Global Governance

By Colin L. Soskolne (editor), Laura Westra (editor), Louis J. Kotzé (editor)

Book cover of Sustaining Life on Earth: Environmental and Human Health through Global Governance

Why this book?

Soskolne edits one of the most important books on sustainability ever written, but written in a way the layperson can understand. It is over 400 pages long, but this is because it covers a multitude of deep topics by experts in the field. It is not waffle, does not indulge in denial, and is one of the most constructive books I have read that seriously addresses meaningful sustainability.


The Dream of the Earth

By Thomas Berry,

Book cover of The Dream of the Earth

Why this book?

Thomas Berry has been called a ‘geologian’ and is one of the deepest thinkers on the environmental crisis. He writes with passion and compassion for our world and humanity as part of that world. One quote gives you an idea of his prose: But our supposed progress toward an ever-improving human situation is bringing us to a waste world instead of a wonderworld’.


Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation

By Philip Cafaro (editor), Eileen Crist (editor),

Book cover of Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation

Why this book?

Society has to face up to the fact that there are far too many people on planet Earth, probably several times more than is ecologically sustainable. It is no use denying it and making it taboo. Sure we need smaller ecological footprints – but we also need fewer feet. Overpopulation means that life on Earth is indeed on the brink of extinction. This is probably the best book I know that tackles the population issue with both science and compassionate ethics for all life.


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