The best books to inspire you to fight climate change

Elizabeth Cripps Author Of What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care
By Elizabeth Cripps

Who am I?

I’m a philosopher and former journalist. I’ve been teaching, writing, and thinking about climate justice for nearly two decades. Ever more frustrated by the gulf between what’s morally and scientifically imperative, and what governments are prepared to do, I determined to speak (and listen) to a wider audience than my academic bubble. Climate change is a moral emergency, not just a technical, scientific, economic, or political one. The more people who recognise that, the better. As a writer, I couldn’t have managed without the experiences and wisdom of others, personal, scholarly, or professional. These books, among many others, have moved me and helped me to figure out a way forward.

I wrote...

What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care

By Elizabeth Cripps,

Book cover of What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care

What is my book about?

We owe it to our fellow humans, and other species, to save them from the catastrophic harm caused by climate change. This book explains why. It uses clear reasoning and poignant examples, starting with irrefutable science and uncontroversial moral rules. It unravels the legacy of colonialism and entrenched racism, and exposes the way we live now as fundamentally unjust. 

Then it asks where we go from here. Who should pay the bill for climate action? Who must have a say? How can we hold multinational companies, organisations—even nations—to account? And what should each of us do now? Recognise climate justice as the fundamental wrong it is, and climate activism is a moral duty, not a political choice.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Climate Change

Why did I love this book?

Terrifying and eye-opening, this tells the true story of machinations worthy of a John Grisham thriller. A small but powerful group is determined to deny science and subvert democracy by manufacturing a lucrative new product: doubt. As the authors meticulously document, this is done deliberately and cynically, by corrupting a handful of scientists, destroying the lives of incorruptible ones, and going heavy on lobbying and media spin. But unlike the thrillers, the ending on climate denial has still to be written; the ball is in our court.

By Naomi Oreskes, Erik M. Conway,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Merchants of Doubt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers. Merchants of Doubt tells 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…

Book cover of A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis

Why did I love this book?

Writing about climate justice from the relative security of Scotland, with the unearned privileges of being white, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t read, hear, and try to absorb the insights of the women and girls of colour, especially in the global south. This book is both an inspiration and stark reminder of what a fundamentally global injustice this is. As a Ugandan, Vanessa Nakate knows too well what climate change can do: the pain is already real, in countries like hers. As an activist, she has been kept out of the picture when it comes to decision-making. (Quite literally, when a news agency cropped her from an image and left only the white activists.) But Nakate has persisted. This compelling, open, personal account shows why.

By Vanessa Nakate,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Bigger Picture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Vanessa Nakate continues to teach a most critical lesson. She reminds us that while we may all be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat.' Greta Thunberg

'An indispensable voice for our future.' Malala Yousafzai

'A powerful global voice.' Angelina Jolie

No matter your age, location or skin colour, you can be an effective activist.

Devastating flooding, deforestation, extinction and starvation. These are the issues that not only threaten in the future, they are a reality. After witnessing some of these issues first-hand, Vanessa Nakate saw how the world's biggest polluters are asleep at the…

Book cover of Summertime: Reflections on a Vanishing Future

Why did I love this book?

I’ve been researching climate justice for years, but it took Celermajer’s exquisite, heart-breaking prose to bring home to me the devastation wrought by human-caused climate change on non-human animals. She tells the story of the Australian summer of bushfires, unflinchingly, as it devastated her own community of rescue animals, and the wildlife around them. Witnessing the searing grief of her pig, Jimmy, for his lost companion, we come to understand our commonality with other animalsand how much, beyond ourselves, is truly at stake.

By Danielle Celermajer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Summertime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I went and sat alone where Jimmy has been lying. It is way down in the bush. The light is soft, the air and the earth are cool, and the smell is of leaves and the river. I cannot presume to know what he is doing when he lies here, but it seems that he is taking himself back to an ecology not wrought by the terror of the fires, not fuelled by our violence on the earth. He is letting another earth heal him.

Philosopher Danielle Celermajer’s story of Jimmy the pig caught the world’s attention during the Black…

Book cover of What We Think about When We Try Not to Think about Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action

Why did I love this book?

Here’s what Don’t Look Up got horribly right: in the face of one of the greatest catastrophes that humankind has faced, we remain not only apathetic but largely indifferent. Stoknes shows why, and how to overcome this. The book blends the personal and relatable with professional expertise and clear, practical guidance: at once an invaluable primer in climate psychology and a roadmap towards a kind of hope, on the other side of terrible grief. 

By Per Espen Stoknes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked What We Think about When We Try Not to Think about Global Warming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why does knowing more mean believing-and doing-less? A prescription for change

The more facts that pile up about global warming, the greater the resistance to them grows, making it harder to enact measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare communities for the inevitable change ahead.

It is a catch-22 that starts, says psychologist and economist Per Espen Stoknes, from an inadequate understanding of the way most humans think, act, and live in the world around them. With dozens of examples-from the private sector to government agencies-Stoknes shows how to retell the story of climate change and, at the same…

Book cover of Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World

Why did I love this book?

To tackle climate change, we need social change, and we won’t get it without communicating the challenges we face to those around us. But how do we do that? Enter Katharine Hayhoe, climate communicator extraordinaire and a long-term heroine of mine. She shows how we can all start dialogues, and so build a network for collective action. She’s a renowned climate scientist herself, but she knows well that facts are only one part of this process. To build true connections, and really motivate people, she explains, we need to find shared values. And she talks us through exactly how to do that.

By Katharine Hayhoe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Saving Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An optimistic view on why collective action is still possible-and how it can be realized." -The New York Times

"A must-read if we're serious about enacting positive change from the ground up, in communities, and through human connections and human emotions." -Margaret Atwood, Twitter

United Nations Champion of the Earth, climate scientist, and evangelical Christian Katharine Hayhoe changes the debate on how we can save our future.

Called "one of the nation's most effective communicators on climate change" by The New York Times, Katharine Hayhoe knows how to navigate all sides of the conversation on our changing planet. A Canadian…

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