The most recommended environmental policy books

Who picked these books? Meet our 40 experts.

40 authors created a book list connected to environmental policy, and here are their favorite environmental policy books.
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Book cover of Handbook of Environmental Impact Assessment

Angus Morrison-Saunders Author Of Advanced Introduction to Environmental Impact Assessment

From my list on environmental impact assessment.

Who am I?

I have been teaching and researching environmental impact assessment for over 30 years and it is still a topic that excites me. After all, what could be more challenging or relevant than figuring out how to deliver sustainable development? Trying to predict the consequences of development and putting in place effective measures to prevent adverse environmental and social effects all in the context of our intriguingly messy world of science, politics, governance, and public engagement is endlessly beguiling. For example, what might sustainable mining look like? I love learning from the wisdom of others, so I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have.

Angus' book list on environmental impact assessment

Angus Morrison-Saunders Why did Angus love this book?

This book provides a fresh, accessible, and captivating account of environmental impact assessment (EIA) featuring a diverse and truly global cast of contributors with expertise across the spectrum of practice.

Marking 50 years of practice, it addresses contemporary EIA issues in an innovative and engaging manner. From the historical origins to contemporary issues such as health assessment in a post-Covid 19 world, climate change, digital impact assessment and the role of artificial intelligence, this Handbook has it all.

It captures the state of the art provided by theorists and practitioners drawn from all around the world, before outlining possible directions for the next 50 years.

By Alberto Fonseca (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Handbook of Environmental Impact Assessment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reviewing over 50 years of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) policy-making and implementation around the world, this thought-provoking Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the current research surrounding EIA. Presenting new trends in law and policy-making, it highlights best practices in the application of technology to impact prediction and management, procedural efficiency, decision-making and public participation.



In addition to explaining the practicalities of the EIA process, chapters delve deep into EIA's decision-making stages and methods, revealing the causes of, and solutions to, recurrent issues. Contributions from leading scholars analyse case studies from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, and North and South America…


Book cover of Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature

Jenny Price Author Of Stop Saving the Planet!: An Environmentalist Manifesto

From my list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature.

Who am I?

I’m a writer, artist, and historian, and I’ve spent much of my career trying to blow up the powerful American definition of environment as a non-human world “out there”, and to ask how it’s allowed environmentalists, Exxon, and the EPA alike to refuse to take responsibility for how we inhabit environments. Along the way, I’ve written Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America and "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA"; co-founded the LA Urban Rangers public art collective; and co-created the “Our Malibu Beaches” phone app. I currently live in St. Louis, where I’m a Research Fellow at the Sam Fox School at Washington University-St. Louis. 

Jenny's book list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature

Jenny Price Why did Jenny love this book?

An oldie but a goodie, and a classic. Cronon’s lead essay “The Trouble with Wilderness” roused ‘90s environmentalism like a brilliant party crasher—but don’t miss Richard White’s “Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living,” Giovanna Di Chiro’s “Nature as Community,” and, well, my own “Looking for Nature at the Mall.”

By William Cronon (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a lead essay that powerfully states the broad argument of the book, William Cronon writes that the environmentalist goal of wilderness preservation is conceptually and politically wrongheaded. Among the ironies and entanglements resulting from this goal are the sale of nature in our malls through the Nature Company, and the disputes between working people and environmentalists over spotted owls and other objects of species preservation.

The problem is that we haven't learned to live responsibly in nature. The environmentalist aim of legislating humans out of the wilderness is no solution. People, Cronon argues, are inextricably tied to nature, whether…


Book cover of The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin

Adam M. Sowards Author Of Making America's Public Lands: The Contested History of Conservation on Federal Lands

From my list on bringing the public into the public lands.

Who am I?

I started studying public lands by accident in the 1990s for a class project before I really knew what they even were. Since then, I've published hundreds of thousands of words about them, including my latest book Making America’s Public Lands where I’ve brought together much of what I’ve learned. I’m convinced the national forests, parks, rangelands, and refuges are among the most interesting and important experiments in democracy we have. I'm a writer, historian, and former college professor who now calls the Skagit Valley of Washington home. As much as I enjoy studying the public lands, I've appreciated hiking, sleeping, teaching, and noticing things in them even more.

Adam's book list on bringing the public into the public lands

Adam M. Sowards Why did Adam love this book?

I suspect most people see much of the Great Basin—and Nevada specifically—as empty, uninteresting, and boring in its geographic features and history. I confess that I’ve been guilty of this. But in Leisl Carr Childers’s hands, I learned to recognize how full, fascinating, and insightful this place can be. She takes a key management idea that pervades public lands management—multiple use—and demonstrates what it means when the public and their representatives call for one stretch of land to be used for grazing and recreation and wildlife habitat and bombing ranges and mining and, seemingly, new things under the sun almost continuously. With a fragile ecosystem and a fractious political environment, Nevada offers many lessons that can only be taught when a careful writer digs as deeply as Carr Childers has. We’re lucky she rescued this place from relative obscurity.

By Leisl Carr Childers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Great Basin, a stark and beautiful desert filled with sagebrush deserts and mountain ranges, is the epicenter for public lands conflicts. Arising out of the multiple, often incompatible uses created throughout the twentieth century, these struggles reveal the tension inherent within the multiple use concept, a management philosophy that promises equitable access to the region's resources and economic gain to those who live there.

Multiple use was originally conceived as a way to legitimize the historical use of public lands for grazing without precluding future uses, such as outdoor recreation, weapons development, and wildlife management. It was applied to…


Book cover of Dumping In Dixie: Race, Class, And Environmental Quality

James Tabery Author Of Tyranny of the Gene: Personalized Medicine and Its Threat to Public Health

From my list on the environment and health.

Who am I?

I’m a philosopher fascinated by science and its relationship to society, who science benefits and who it harms; why scientists get some things right and some things wrong; and which scientific results make their way into the physician’s office, the courtroom, and the school textbook. Science impacts all facets of our lives: our health, our relationships with others, and our understanding of our place in our community and in the universe. I’ve spent decades investigating this relationship between science and society; these are some of the books I’ve found most influential in thinking about how we, as humans, impact the environment around us, which in turn circles back and impacts us.  

James' book list on the environment and health

James Tabery Why did James love this book?

This is it. The book that launched the environmental justice movement.

Scientists today frequently talk about environmental racism, about the way that harmful substances in our environments are not distributed randomly but instead disproportionately on communities of color, which in turn takes an enormous toll on the health of people living in those communities.

It was this book that forcefully made the case for seeing this phenomenon through the lens of civil rights. It exposed the widespread and systemic nature of environmental racism and made the case for responding to it with all the concepts, collective action, and policy strategies of the civil rights movement.  

By Robert Bullard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To be poor, working-class, or a person of colour in the United States often means bearing a disproportionate share of the country's environmental problems. Starting with the premise that all Americans have a basic right to live in a healthy environment, Dumping in Dixie chronicles the efforts of five African American communities, empowered by the civil rights movement, to link environmentalism with issues of social justice. In the third edition, Bullard speaks to us from the front lines of the environmental justice movement about new developments in environmental racism, different organizing strategies, and success stories in the struggle for environmental…


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.

Who am I?

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 The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimist's Guide to the Climate Crisis

Tina Muir Author Of Becoming a Sustainable Runner: A Guide to Running for Life, Community, and Planet

From my list on helping you process emotions around climate.

Who am I?

FernGully was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and it made me really think about the natural world and how humans interact with it. Now, aged 35 with kids of my own (who also love FernGully), I consider myself a climate activist for the work I do in helping everyday people to believe they can be a part of the solution to climate change. As an author, podcast host, and community builder, I've connected with other humans with fascinating passions, perspectives, and values. I want to show my audience that we can all view the world differently, but there is one important thing we need to all believe, that we matter.

Tina's book list on helping you process emotions around climate

Tina Muir Why did Tina love this book?

We have a lot of climate anxiety.

Most of the time I feel optimistic and believe in humanity, believe that we will come together to create a solution, but some days, it can be hard to move past the fear and uncertainty. Climate books can make this worse with their ultimatum-type messaging; of course, we feel doomed.

The Future We Choose is the ideal book to read when you are struggling to see a way forward. Christiana and Tom do a wonderful job of explaining what life could look like in 50 years if we make the right choices now. Rather than the book only being about what is at stake, they paint a clear picture of how much more vibrant, stunning, fulfilling, and joyful our home can be.

This book gave me hope and I lean on the imagery from it in moments I am struggling.

By Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Future We Choose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

'Everyone should read this book' MATT HAIG
'One of the most inspiring books I have ever read' YUVAL NOAH HARARI
'Inspirational, compassionate and clear. The time to read this is NOW' MARK RUFFALO
'Figueres and Rivett-Carnac dare to tell us how our response can create a better, fairer world' NAOMI KLEIN

*****

Discover why there's hope for the planet and how we can each make a difference in the climate crisis, starting today.

Humanity is not doomed, and we can and will survive. The future is ours to create: it will be shaped by who we…


Book cover of Governing through Goals: Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation

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

From my list on global environmental governance.

Who am I?

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?

In Western thinking based on the ideal of the rule of law, there is a distinct preference for regimes or governance systems that are articulated in legally binding instruments negotiated by states (e.g. treaties or conventions) and that emphasize the central role of rules in the form of mandatory requirements and prohibitions.

But the key to effective governance treated as a matter of social steering is to find ways to guide or channel the behavior of those states and nonstate actors whose actions are relevant to any given need for governance. 

One alternative to rule-based governance is goal-based governance or, in other words, a strategy that emphasizes setting collective goals (e.g. keeping temperature increases at the Earth’s surface to less than 1.5° C) and then launching a vigorous and coordinated effort to meet these goals within a specified period of time.

Goal-based governance is familiar at the domestic level…

By Norichika Kanie (editor), Frank Biermann (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A detailed examination of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and the shift in governance strategy they represent.

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Sustainable Development Goals built on and broadened the earlier Millennium Development Goals, but they also signaled a larger shift in governance strategies. The seventeen goals add detailed content to the concept of sustainable development, identify specific targets for each goal, and help frame a broader, more coherent, and transformative 2030 agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to build a universal,…


Book cover of Earth, Wind and Fire: Unpacking the Political, Economic and Security Implications of Discourse on the Green Economy

Najma Mohamed Author Of Sustainability Transitions in South Africa

From my list on justice and sustainability in South Africa.

Who am I?

While my childhood in a coastal community in South Africa contributed to my deep appreciation and love for nature, I was born and grew up as a person of colour in the apartheid era when barricades divided humans, the land, and the sea. I developed a profound understanding, rooted in my lived experience, of the interlinkages between justice, equity, and sustainability. I've remained actively involved and interested in developing and profiling transformative and inclusive approaches to sustainability from community to the international level. I've maintained this focus on the nexus between climate, nature, and inequality throughout my career, where I've led transformative and inclusive approaches to nature and climate policy and practice for 20+ years. 

Najma's book list on justice and sustainability in South Africa

Najma Mohamed Why did Najma love this book?

The book deals with the challenge of growth – how the South African economy needs to find a way to grow, and adopt policy choices and pathways that can help the country transition from a fossil fuel-intensive economy to a green economy, that is resource efficient, climate resilient, and equitable.

It grapples with the social complexity of post-apartheid South Africa and why a transition to a green economy in South Africa must be just transition. 

By Lynne Krieger Mytelka (editor), Velaphi Msimang (editor), Radhika Perrot (editor) , Marie Blanche Ting , Saliem Fakir , Manisha Gulati , Simone Haysom , Lyndall Mujakachi , Edison Muzenda , T. J. Pilusa , Louise Scholtz , Ogundiran Soumonni , Fumani Mthembi

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book examines issues ranging from global and domestic climate change and sustainable energy issues to the mineral-energy complex issues that have given rise to local and sector-specific problems. Each chapter seeks to convey policy choices and recommendations, at the centre of which is a clear articulation of the need for an integrated mix of policy instruments in South Africa to mitigate emissions and promote the development of a low-carbon economy through the low-carbon and sustainable energy technologies and low-carbon innovation across various sectors of the economy. The central theme of the book is that discourse and policy action on…


Book cover of Winning the Green New Deal: Why We Must, How We Can

Laurie Laybourn Author Of Planet on Fire: A Manifesto for the Age of Environmental Breakdown

From my list on to help us face up to the environmental crisis.

Who am I?

I research, write and speak about the global environmental emergency and the policies and politics we need to adequately respond. Drawing on a decade of experience in academia, activism, and policymaking, my work explores the leadership needed to transition to more sustainable and equitable societies while contending with the growing destabilisation resulting from the worsening environmental crisis. I’ve worked at a range of leading policy research organisations and universities and have won awards for my work. I’ve got a BSc in physics and an MPhil in economies from the University of Oxford. 

Laurie's book list on to help us face up to the environmental crisis

Laurie Laybourn Why did Laurie love this book?

I was one in a world of frustrated and increasingly anxious people back in 2018. Politicians just weren’t talking about the severity of the environmental crisis and the vast actions that we need (and can) undertake to tackle it. And then Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg and Fridays for the Future, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal, and the Sunrise Movement came along. Suddenly everyone was talking about it. This set of essays brings so many of those thinkers and doers together to give us an inspiring road map for getting out of the crisis and realizing a better world in the process. And it shows us that these movements are built on the shoulders of giants, particularly in the global south. 

By Guido Girgenti, Varshini Prakash,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Winning the Green New Deal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An urgent and definitive collection of essays from leaders and experts championing the Green New Deal—and a detailed playbook for how we can win it—including contributions by leading activists and progressive writers like Varshini Prakash, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Bill McKibben, Rev William Barber II, and more.

In October 2018, scientists warned that we have less than 12 years left to transform our economy away from fossil fuels, or face catastrophic climate change. At that moment, there was no plan in the US to decarbonize our economy that fast. Less than two years later, every major Democratic presidential candidate has embraced the…


Book cover of All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

Carrie Firestone Author Of The First Rule of Climate Club

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

Who am I?

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?

This book. It’s like I found a treasure map for how to journey to a more beautiful, purposeful, just, and joyful planet.

It’s a collection of climate-centered essays and poems, a perfect balance of clearly-presented science education, relatable personal narratives, deeply-moving tributes to Mother Earth, strategic calls to collective action and policy re-invention, and effective, implementable solutions. And it’s written by a wonderfully diverse group of super-women, who understand that equity is more than a word, and systemic shifts are more than a concept.

I selected this book for my list because it’s a perfect format for a community read. You can choose a page, theme, section, or the whole book. They’ve even highlighted important passages for slackers who scramble to read right before the book talk.  

By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson (editor), Katharine K. Wilkinson (editor),

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked All We Can Save as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Provocative and illuminating essays from women at the forefront of the climate movement who are harnessing truth, courage, and solutions to lead humanity forward.

“A powerful read that fills one with, dare I say . . . hope?”—The New York Times
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE

There is a renaissance blooming in the climate movement: leadership that is more characteristically feminine and more faithfully feminist, rooted in compassion, connection, creativity, and collaboration. While it’s clear that women and girls are vital voices and agents of change for this planet, they…