100 books like The Pyrocene

By Stephen J. Pyne,

Here are 100 books that The Pyrocene fans have personally recommended if you like The Pyrocene. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Larry Cahoone Author Of The Emergence of Value: Human Norms in a Natural World

From my list on history and science books that tell us who we are now.

Why am I passionate about this?

A philosophy professor, my central interest has always been something historical: what is going on in this strange modern world we live in? Addressing this required forty years of background work in the natural sciences, history, social sciences, and the variety of contemporary philosophical theories that try to put them all together. In the process, I taught philosophy courses on philosophical topics, social theory, and the sciences, wrote books, and produced video courses, mostly focused on that central interest. The books listed are some of my favorites to read and to teach. They are crucial steps on the journey to understand who we are in this unprecedented modern world.

Larry's book list on history and science books that tell us who we are now

Larry Cahoone Why did Larry love this book?

Best recent book examining human morality from a scientific, psychological point of view.

Darwinians used to think humans had to be selfish and immoral. Contemporary evolution argues the opposite, that humans evolved moral limits on our selfishness in order to live together. Haidt’s is the best book presenting this new evolutionary psychology.

But it goes further to connect those scientific issues with contemporary politics, explaining why people from “red” and “blue” states cannot understand each other: they each embody a short list of human moral values, but different ones. This is a great book for thinking carefully about human morality and contemporary politics. Students love it, and so do I. 

By Jonathan Haidt,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Righteous Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A landmark contribution to humanity's understanding of itself' The New York Times

Why can it sometimes feel as though half the population is living in a different moral universe? Why do ideas such as 'fairness' and 'freedom' mean such different things to different people? Why is it so hard to see things from another viewpoint? Why do we come to blows over politics and religion?

Jonathan Haidt reveals that we often find it hard to get along because our minds are hardwired to be moralistic, judgemental and self-righteous. He explores how morality evolved to enable us to form communities, and…


Book cover of The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect

Ran Spiegler Author Of The Curious Culture of Economic Theory

From my list on scholarly and popular-science books that both pros and amateurs can enjoy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an academic researcher and an avid non-fiction reader. There are many popular books on science or music, but it’s much harder to find texts that manage to occupy the space between popular and professional writing. I’ve always been looking for this kind of book, whether on physics, music, AI, or math – even when I knew that as a non-pro, I wouldn’t be able to understand everything. In my new book I’ve been trying to accomplish something similar: A book that can intrigue readers who are not professional economic theorists, that they will find interesting even if they can’t follow everything.

Ran's book list on scholarly and popular-science books that both pros and amateurs can enjoy

Ran Spiegler Why did Ran love this book?

In the ongoing debates over artificial general intelligence (AGI), Judea Pearl is taking a firm stand: He argues that an intelligent robot should be able to reason about causality and that the currently fashionable approaches to AI miss this aspect.

A celebrated AI researcher and a Turing Prize laureate, Pearl has developed an amazingly original approach to this problem. This book is a high-end popular exposition of his approach.

But it’s so much more than that. It’s a history of statistics and its conflicted attitude to causality. It’s a story of heroes (or villains?) in this history. And it’s a scientific autobiography that describes Pearl’s journey. Pearl likes picking fights with the AI community, statisticians, or economists. He’s boastful, provocative, extremely intelligent, and knows how to tell a story.

By Judea Pearl, Dana MacKenzie,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Book of Why as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Wonderful ... illuminating and fun to read'
- Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow

'"Pearl's accomplishments over the last 30 years have provided the theoretical basis for progress in artificial intelligence and have redefined the term "thinking machine"'
- Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist, Google, Inc.

The influential book in how causality revolutionized science and the world, by the pioneer of artificial intelligence

'Correlation does not imply causation.' This mantra was invoked by scientists for decades in order to avoid taking positions as to whether one thing caused another, such as smoking…


Book cover of The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall

Luke Heaton Author Of A Brief History of Mathematical Thought

From my list on grand, unifying ideas for how the world works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scientist and inventor, who has always been drawn to grand, overarching narratives, and unifying ideas. I have degrees in Mathematics and Architecture, a PhD in Biophysics, and spent 11 years studying fungal networks at the University of Oxford. I am currently working with the award-winning architect Ben Allen, to commercialize a patent for making POMB (poly-organic mycelium blend): a light-transmitting, thermally insulating, carbon-negative building material.

Luke's book list on grand, unifying ideas for how the world works

Luke Heaton Why did Luke love this book?

Moffett is a leading specialist on social insects, and the core of his penetrating insight is that we ought to clearly distinguish between collective behavior and social behavior. Our ability to see that one stranger belongs to our society, while another stranger does not, is utterly crucial, and Moffett speaks with authority when he claims that humans are the only animals where different societies merge over time. In particular, he correctly notes that time and time again there has been a fusion between human societies under the heel of a conquering force. By carefully considering our bee-like nature, as well as our chimp-like nature, The Human Swarm reveals how mankind has created sprawling civilizations of unrivalled complexity and provides some valuable insights into what it will take to sustain them.

By Mark W. Moffett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A specialist on social insects writes about the origins and implications of our own vast social organisation, and the ways in which our ethnic and national distinctions mirror those of other animals.

In this paradigm-shattering book, biologist Mark W. Moffett draws on findings in psychology, sociology and anthropology to explain the social adaptations that bind societies. He explores how the tension between identity and anonymity defines how societies develop, function, and fail. In the vein of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Sapiens, The Human Swarm reveals how mankind created sprawling civilizations of unrivalled complexity - and what it will take…


Book cover of The Age of Wood: Our Most Useful Material and the Construction of Civilization

Luke Heaton Author Of A Brief History of Mathematical Thought

From my list on grand, unifying ideas for how the world works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scientist and inventor, who has always been drawn to grand, overarching narratives, and unifying ideas. I have degrees in Mathematics and Architecture, a PhD in Biophysics, and spent 11 years studying fungal networks at the University of Oxford. I am currently working with the award-winning architect Ben Allen, to commercialize a patent for making POMB (poly-organic mycelium blend): a light-transmitting, thermally insulating, carbon-negative building material.

Luke's book list on grand, unifying ideas for how the world works

Luke Heaton Why did Luke love this book?

It is easy to imagine that in the Stone Age, stone tools were the critical thing, that in the Bronze Age, bronze tools were the critical thing, and so on. The truth is that right up until very recent times, most of our technology was made from wood. Even before modern humans evolved, we were deeply shaped by the physical realities of wood, and the challenges and opportunities it provides. Large animals that live in trees need big brains and spatial awareness to avoid falling to their death, and the habitations of early humans were surely closely related to the nests made by non-human primates. Stone tools enabled improvements in wood handling and wood tools, bronze-enabled wooden wheels, and many of the long-term trends in human history make a lot more sense from a wood-centric perspective.

In short, this charming and unique history of humanity casts a familiar and often…

By Roland Ennos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “smart and surprising” (Booklist) “expansive history” (Publishers Weekly) detailing the role that wood and trees have played in our global ecosystem—including human evolution and the rise and fall of empires—in the bestselling tradition of Yuval Harari’s Sapiens and Mark Kurlansky’s Salt.

As the dominant species on Earth, humans have made astonishing progress since our ancestors came down from the trees. But how did the descendants of small primates manage to walk upright, become top predators, and populate the world? How were humans able to develop civilizations and produce a globalized economy? Now, in The Age of Wood, Roland Ennos…


Book cover of Managing Institutional Complexity: Regime Interplay and Global Environmental Change

Oran R. Young Author Of Governing Complex Systems: Social Capital for the Anthropocene

From my list on global environmental governance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my professional life exploring the roles social institutions play in guiding interactions between humans and the natural environment in a variety of settings. Along the way, I pioneered research on what is now known as global environmental governance, devoting particular attention to issues relating to the atmosphere, the oceans, and the polar regions. Although I come from the world of scholarship, I have played an active role in promoting productive interactions between science and policy regarding matters relating to the Arctic and global environmental change.

Oran's book list on global environmental governance

Oran R. Young Why did Oran love this book?

There is a tendency to focus on regimes as self-contained governance systems.

But in reality, there are typically more or less complex interactions between or among environmental regimes. Some regimes (e.g. the ozone regime and the climate regime) interact with one another in significant ways.

In other cases, a number of distinct regimes play influential roles in dealing with the same problem (e.g. climate change). This leads to the emergence of regime complexes regarded as sets of institutional elements that are not arranged in a hierarchical order but that all play roles in dealing with major issues like climate change.

The research challenge then is to identify conditions leading to mutually beneficial or synergistic interactions in contrast to conditions giving rise to interactions that are harmful or that produce interference in the operations of distinct regimes.

By Sebastian Oberthur (editor), Olav Schram Stokke (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Managing Institutional Complexity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Experts investigate how states and other actors can improve inter-institutional synergy and examine the complexity of overlapping environmental governance structures.

Institutional interaction and complexity are crucial to environmental governance and are quickly becoming dominant themes in the international relations and environmental politics literatures. This book examines international institutional interplay and its consequences, focusing on two important issues: how states and other actors can manage institutional interaction to improve synergy and avoid disruption; and what forces drive the emergence and evolution of institutional complexes, sets of institutions that cogovern particular issue areas.

The book, a product of the Institutional Dimensions of…


Book cover of Earth System Governance: World Politics in the Anthropocene

Oran R. Young Author Of Governing Complex Systems: Social Capital for the Anthropocene

From my list on global environmental governance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my professional life exploring the roles social institutions play in guiding interactions between humans and the natural environment in a variety of settings. Along the way, I pioneered research on what is now known as global environmental governance, devoting particular attention to issues relating to the atmosphere, the oceans, and the polar regions. Although I come from the world of scholarship, I have played an active role in promoting productive interactions between science and policy regarding matters relating to the Arctic and global environmental change.

Oran's book list on global environmental governance

Oran R. Young Why did Oran love this book?

The dramatic growth in human populations and the extraordinary increase in human capacities to affect the environment has led to a transformation of the setting in which issues of environmental governance arise.

The result is the onset of a new era commonly described as the Anthropocene and the rise of the idea of Earth system governance. The biophysical conditions that control the Earth’s climate system or the diversity of life on the planet play critical roles as determinants of human well-being.

But human actions also are now critical forces in determining the character of the climate system and the future of biological diversity on the planet. There is still a need for regimes dealing with specific environmental concerns, such as transboundary air pollution, persistent organic pollutants, or the spread of plastic debris.

At the same time, there is a critical need to focus on arrangements designed to sustain key planetary…

By Frank Biermann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Earth System Governance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new model for effective global environmental governance in an era of human-caused planetary transformation and disruption.

Humans are no longer spectators who need to adapt to their natural environment. Our impact on the earth has caused changes that are outside the range of natural variability and are equivalent to such major geological disruptions as ice ages. Some scientists argue that we have entered a new epoch in planetary history: the Anthropocene. In such an era of planet-wide transformation, we need a new model for planet-wide environmental politics. In this book, Frank Biermann proposes “earth system” governance as just such…


Book cover of Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change

Carrie Firestone Author Of The First Rule of Climate Club

From my list on non-fiction to inspire community conversations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm co-founder of a grassroots social justice, civic engagement, and service organization called ForwardCT, which I started with my friend and current state representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw with the intention of mobilizing community-centered action. Our work centers on these four pillars: Connect, Inform, Serve, and Lead. Those pillars guide my work as chair of my town’s Clean Energy Commission, as teacher and facilitator of workshops and events, and as an author of books for young people. I'm drawn to the powerful use of storytelling as a tool for starting conversations, stirring up “good trouble,” and inspiring activism. Read a book, approach your library or town to host a community conversation, leave with actionable takeaways, repeat!

Carrie's book list on non-fiction to inspire community conversations

Carrie Firestone Why did Carrie love this book?

I chose Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change because I live in Connecticut and my own family and friend group have been gravely impacted by tick-borne infections. In fact, the subplot of my novel focuses on the frustrating story of a family seeking answers to this “mystery” illness.

We are at a moment where climate change is accelerating new and worsening pathogenic diseases and public health isn’t catching up fast enough. Mary Beth Pfeiffer provides a well-researched glimpse into the politics and pain of tick-borne infections in a climate-changing world.

I recommend this book as a community conversation starter because, more and more, citizens are coming together to share medical resources and put pressure on the public health community to act. 

By Mary Beth Pfeiffer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Superbly written and researched." -Booklist
"Builds a strong case." -Kirkus
Lyme disease is spreading rapidly around the globe as ticks move into places they could not survive before. The first
epidemic to emerge in the era of climate change, the disease infects half a million people in the US and Europe each year,
and untold multitudes in Canada, China, Russia, and Australia.
Mary Beth Pfeiffer shows how we have contributed to this growing menace, and how modern medicine has
underestimated its danger. She tells the heart-rending stories of families destroyed by a single tick bite, of children
disabled, and of…


Book cover of When the Lights Go Out

Jane Rogers Author Of The Testament of Jessie Lamb

From my list on believable British stories set in the near future.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing my eighth novel, The Testament of Jessie Lamb, I had to move the story into the future in order to explore the topics I was trying to understand. I think through writing: sometimes I feel it is only through writing that I really engage with the world. Work on Jessie Lamb entailed a lot of scientific and future research, and after that I read more and more future fiction, with an increasing appetite for the work of writers who are really interested in exploring where we are headed as a species, and how we might try to survive the damage we have inflicted on the earth.

Jane's book list on believable British stories set in the near future

Jane Rogers Why did Jane love this book?

I love this book for its humour in the face of catastrophe.

As the rain falls and the floods rise, Chris sees his mission as to warn humanity of the impending terrors of the climate emergency. His wife Emma meanwhile tries to keep their home and family fed, safe and happy.

An incurable optimist, she finds Chris’ behaviour both pointless and faintly ridiculous. And when he takes to switching off the electricity in order to teach her to be more self-sufficient, she’s less than pleased.

What I really admire is the way Carys tackles the serious topic of climate breakdown with wry humour, generating sympathy for both partners and drawing us into each one’s point of view. 

By Carys Bray,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When the Lights Go Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_________________________
'This is a powerful and truthful story about hope and how to find it' THE TIMES

'Wry, beautifully written . . . it works on many levels' DAILY MAIL

'Bray's satire shines with observation and subtlety' GUARDIAN

'She writes with a quiet formidable brilliance. Her observations on relationships are acute, painful and extremely funny. This is a gem of a book.' EMILY MAITLIS
_________________________
Global temperatures are rising.
The climate of the Abrams' marriage is cooling.

Emma is beginning to wonder whether relationships, like mortgages, should be conducted in five-year increments. She might laugh if Chris had bought a…


Book cover of Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming

Bruce E. Johansen Author Of Nationalism vs. Nature: Warming and War

From my list on climate change and how to deal with it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I retired in 2019 after 38 years of teaching journalism,  environmental studies, and Native American Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. About half of my employment time was set aside for writing and editing as part of several endowed professorships I held sequentially between 1990 and 2018. After 2000, climate change (global warming) became my lead focus because of the urgency of the issue and the fact that it affects everyone on Earth. As of 2023, I have written and published 56 books, with about one-third of them on global warming. I have had an intense interest in weather and climate all my life.

Bruce's book list on climate change and how to deal with it

Bruce E. Johansen Why did Bruce love this book?

This book dissects the arguments of global-warming opponents through the scientific lens of Jim Hansen, who at the time it was published, directed the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

Hansen and Bowen finds the climate deniers’ opinions dangerous for their inaccuracies and ignorance of how the geophysical world works. For interpreting geophysical reality to those who didn’t want to hear it (or stood to lose money if such thinking became part of policy), Hansen became a target to some, and a hero to others.

It’s not a common event to see a renowned scientist carried away from a protest in handcuffs. Hansen got used to it. 

By Mark Bowen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Censoring Science as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Documents the Bush administration's censorship of a leading climatologist whose work demonstrated the significant dangers of global warming, in an account that explains the scientific principles behind global warming while identifying ways to prevent an imminent environmental disaster.


Book cover of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

Bruce E. Johansen Author Of Nationalism vs. Nature: Warming and War

From my list on climate change and how to deal with it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I retired in 2019 after 38 years of teaching journalism,  environmental studies, and Native American Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. About half of my employment time was set aside for writing and editing as part of several endowed professorships I held sequentially between 1990 and 2018. After 2000, climate change (global warming) became my lead focus because of the urgency of the issue and the fact that it affects everyone on Earth. As of 2023, I have written and published 56 books, with about one-third of them on global warming. I have had an intense interest in weather and climate all my life.

Bruce's book list on climate change and how to deal with it

Bruce E. Johansen Why did Bruce love this book?

Very probably the world’s foremost organizer against global warming, Bill McKibben played a leading role in founding 350.org, a worldwide citizen-based, grass-roots solution for climate changes that already are well underway.

An eloquent writer and author of several other books that focus on humankind’s debt to nature, his role as an author on natural issues began in 1989 with The End of Nature. In October, 2009, McKibben took a leading role in organizing what CNN called “The most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.”  

By Bill McKibben,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Twenty years ago, with "The End of Nature", Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about global warming. Those warnings went mostly unheeded; now, he insists, we need to acknowledge that we've waited too long, and that massive change is not only unavoidable but already under way. Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We've created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different. We may as well call it Eaarth. That new planet is filled with new binds and traps. A…


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