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Climate Change & Literature

There are countless books, articles and papers on the subject and science of climate change, its history, and its impact. I have attempted here to highlight what I consider to be the seminal works on climate change, those writers, activists and reporters who have, past and present, engaged in the process of raising public awareness and campaigned for the social, political and economic changes necessary for its effective management.

The German traveller and scientist Alexander Von Humboldt, born 1769, was by all accounts the worlds first environmentalist and campaigner for action on climate change. This wonderful absorbing book details his lifetime dedication into scientific exploration and the complexities of nature and his efforts to convince the world that the mass exploitation of planetary resources had consequences.

Bill McKibben is an American climate change activist and the founder of, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organised twenty  thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the ever growing growing fossil fuel divestment movement. Published in 1990 this book is still an inspiring read on our declining relationship with nature. Other works by McKibben can be found here:

George Monbiot is another lifelong environmental activist and campaigner who writes regularly for the guardian. His outspoken views on all things environmental are informed up to date research and science and this must read practical, life affirming book, published in 2006, is indispensable for those wanting to get at the truth about capitalism and the climate.

Naomi Klein, has in my view written the definitive book on capitalism and climate change. Published in 2015 to international acclaim she has researched and address every aspect of climate change, from its causes to its solutions, and in the process, debunked all the smoke and mirrors provided by climate change deniers, fossil fuel extractors and those who think (Richard Branson and others) we can geo-engineer (using strategies they would profit from) our way out.

More recently, The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells has succinctly written, an albeit grim, alarmist picture of our corporate and governmental failure to act upon climate change. He does articulate solutions but focusses on clarifying the scale of the problems and ringing much needed alarm bells.

Wanting to finish on a positive note the reissue of Rebecca Solnits beautiful inspiring "With Hope in the Dark", makes a radical and convincing case for hope as an essential tool for activists living in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her own illuminated activism and erudite knowledge of environmental, cultural, and political history, Solnit argues that radicals have a long, neglected history of transformative victories, that the positive consequences of our acts are not always acknowledged, directly knowable, or even measurable, and that pessimism and despair are created by those who wish to maintain the status quo and have no interests other than profit.

Do please share your own good reads on the theme of climate change and add to this reading list.

Please note, the views expressed here are my own and not necessarily shared by other members of CANWM


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