The best Green New Deal books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about Green New Deal and why they recommend each book.

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Has It Come to This?

By J.P. Sapinski (editor), Holly Buck (editor), Andreas Malm (editor)

Book cover of Has It Come to This?: The Promises and Perils of Geoengineering on the Brink

I don’t often praise edited collections, but this book is the most clear-eyed discussion of our current predicament in the face of worsening global warming I have ever encountered. The authors argue that the political deployment of geoengineering to ‘save’ us has become essentially a foregone conclusion—forget all that wishful Green New Deal happy talk. They then proceed to argue out the various potential political scenarios concerning what this means for future politics. Read this and weep.

Who am I?

I am an economist who came to realize that the marketplace of ideas was a political doctrine, and not an empirical description of how we came to know what we think we know. Science has never functioned in the same manner across centuries; it was only during my lifetime that it became recast as a subset of market reality. I have spent a fair amount of effort exploring how economics sought to attain the status of a science; but now the tables have turned. It is now scientists who are trained to become first and foremost market actors, finally elevating the political dominance of the economists.

I wrote...

The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information: The History of Information in Modern Economics

By Philip Mirowski, Edward Nik-Khah,

Book cover of The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information: The History of Information in Modern Economics

What is my book about?

This book is a history of how American economists sought to incorporate “information” into their theories of choice and markets. Far from being driven by psychology or philosophy, we argue most of the options were borrowed from the natural sciences. The version which eventually became dominant by the late 20th century was prompted more by the politics of neoliberalism than by any logical or empirical considerations.

The book illustrates my larger interest, which is to explore how claims to know something are often rooted in a curious admixture of science and politics. I continually find that the supposed separation of science from politics rarely holds up in history.

Winning the Green New Deal

By Guido Girgenti, Varshini Prakash,

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

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. 

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. 

I wrote...

Planet on Fire: A Manifesto for the Age of Environmental Breakdown

By Laurie Laybourn-Langton, Mathew Lawrence,

Book cover of Planet on Fire: A Manifesto for the Age of Environmental Breakdown

What is my book about?

The political status quo has no answer to the devastating and inequitably distributed consequences of the environmental crisis. We urgently need an alternative to bring about the rapid transformation of our societies and economic systems. As we rebuild our lives in the wake of Covid-19 and face the challenges of ecological disaster, how can we win a world fit for life?

We argue that it is not enough merely to spend our way out of the crisis; we must also rapidly reshape the economy to create a new way of life that can foster a healthy and flourishing environment for all. We offer a clear and practical road map for a future that is democratic and sustainable by design.

Climate Change as Class War

By Matthew T. Huber,

Book cover of Climate Change as Class War: Building Socialism on a Warming Planet

This title sounds as if it was written by Karl Marx in the 1850s (“Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to but your oil-scarred planet.”) Huber advocates organizing and educating the working class as to who is doing what to whom; that is, who profits from continued use of fossil fuels, and who would benefit from a society that runs on clean energy. Huber argues that the carbon-intensive capitalist class must be confronted with the worldwide dangers of failing to react so that the atmosphere will be restored to normal. As in classical socialist movements, Huber asserts winning the climate struggle by forming an internationalist based on a planetary working class in solidarity. This is well and good, perhaps, but a scientific basis is required along with class struggle.

Who am I?

As a professor of Environment, Communication, and Native American Studies, Johansen taught, researched, and wrote at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1982 to 2019, retiring to emeritus status as Frederick W. Kayser research professor. He has published 55 books in several fields: history, anthropology, law, the Earth sciences, and others. Johansen’s writing has been published, debated, and reviewed in many academic venues, among them the William and Mary Quarterly, American Historical Review, Current History, and Nature, as well as in many popular newspapers and magazines, such as The New York Times and The National Geographic.

I wrote...

The Global Warming Desk Reference

By Bruce E. Johansen,

Book cover of The Global Warming Desk Reference

What is my book about?

Having written what he calls “a textbook with an attitude,” in Global Warming and the Climate Crisis, Bruce E. Johansen, attempts to balance terrifying prospects with reasonable solutions, and stresses the expiration date on this debate with an urgent plea—ignore the hoaxers, and very quickly. Citizens of all nations must learn that the climate-change clock is ticking, and purge quibbling nationalism to co-operate. This also means to work diligently to develop solutions through internationally shared science. This work is also designed as a textbook, for growing use in schools, but is also a good read for the general public with an interest in a taut, but also level-headed and comprehensive view of the subject. 

On Fire

By Naomi Klein,

Book cover of On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal

Naomi Klein highlights the role of our economy in determining how we adapt to climate change, exploring some of the deep-rooted problems that we face. Again, this book values the importance of grassroots action when it comes to changing our society, despite governments and large corporations being the cause of the problem.

Who am I?

For the publication of our book, Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change, I have worked closely with activists and academics from around the world, hearing more about the work they do and the unique and individual ways they have made adaptations within their communities. This experience has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of climate adaptation as a topic, both in a scientific and a cultural sense, thus meaning I have been more readily able to recognise the qualities of a great adaptation book!

I managed...

Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change

By Emily Andrews, Morgan Phillips, Renuka Thakore, Andrew Suggitt

Book cover of Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change

What is my book about?

Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change takes a look at real-life examples of communities that have adapted to the challenges presented by our warming world. With governments and large corporations proving ineffective at making significant changes, we must focus on more grassroots initiatives. The current model of extraction and exploitation is unsustainable - socially, economically, and environmentally, so shifts in our entire system must be made to benefit all corners of society.   

The Red Deal

By The Red Nation,

Book cover of The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth

The Red Nation is a revolutionary Indigenous organization that is part of the historic 21st-century revival of Indigenous culture and political resistance that has emerged across the Americas to block oil pipelines, prevent mining projects, and basically lead the fight to save us all from climate extinction. This is their manifesto.

The Red Deal engages with many of the ideas of the “Green New Deal” proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, but starts from the standpoint of Indigenous people across the world. As a result, it puts the fight against climate change in the context of 500 years of capitalism and colonialism, and makes an inspiring case why everyone who wants a sustainable economy should support Indigenous people’s fights for their land and freedom.

Who am I?

I’ve been a socialist for my entire adult life and a wise-ass for even longer. As a writer I’ve found a way to combine these two passions, using humor to introduce complex economic and political ideas to a new audience, as well as poke fun at politicians, CEOs, and even myself and my fellow activists. Not all of the books on this list use humor the way I do, but they have all helped me keep my sunny disposition by giving me inspiration that the socialist cause is more dynamic and multifaceted than ever. 

I wrote...

Socialism....Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation

By Danny Katch,

Book cover of Socialism....Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation

What is my book about?

Socialism…Seriously brings together the two great Marxist traditions of Karl and Groucho to provide an entertaining and insightful introduction to what the socialist tradition has to say about democracy, economics, and the potential of human beings to be something more than being bomb-dropping, planet-destroying racist fools.

Danny Katch uses humor and imagination to take an unflinching look at the rising threats posed by climate change, billionaire oligarchs, and the far right—and makes a compelling case that a socialist world is both necessary and possible. This book is for people who want to take a deeper look at what socialism is… but maybe not that deep.

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