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The wildfires in California are a painful reminder that climate change does not take a holiday. So here – for the climate activists, communicators, or scientists on your list – is a selection of recent titles (most were released in 2017) that vividly portray the problem while fostering hope for solutions.

The descriptions of the twelve books listed below are drawn from copy provided by the publishers.


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The Archipelago of Hope: Wisdom and Resilience from the Edge of Climate Change, by Gleb Raygorodetsky (Pegasus Books 2017, 336 pages, $28.95)

Although our politicians continue to argue, the truth is that climate change is already here. Nobody knows this better than Indigenous peoples who, having developed an intimate relationship with ecosystems over generations, have observed these changes for decades. After two decades of working with indigenous communities, Gleb Raygorodetsky shows how these communities are actually islands of biological and cultural diversity in the ever-rising sea of development and urbanization. They are an “archipelago of hope” as we enter the Anthropocene, for here lies humankind’s best chance to remember our roots and how to take care of the Earth. These communities are implementing creative solutions to meet these modern challenges. Raygorodetsky’s prose resonates with their positive, adaptive, and spiritual hope.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken (Penguin Books 2017, 256 pages, $22.00 paperback)

In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries, to land-use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. If deployed collectively on a global scale over the next thirty years, they represent a credible path forward. These measures also promise cascading benefits to human health, security, prosperity, and well-being – giving us every reason to see this planetary crisis as an opportunity to create a just and livable world.

Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses and Citizens Can Save the Planet, by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope (St. Martin’s Press 2017, 272 pages, $26.99)

The 2016 election left many people who are concerned about the environment fearful that progress on climate change would come screeching to a halt. But not Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope. In Climate of Hope, Bloomberg, an entrepreneur and former mayor of New York City, and Pope, a lifelong environmental leader, offer an optimistic look at the challenge of climate change, the solutions they believe hold the greatest promise, and the practical steps that are necessary to achieve them. Sharing their own stories from government, business, and advocacy, Bloomberg and Pope provide a road map for tackling the most complicated challenge the world has ever faced. Along the way, they turn the usual way of thinking about climate change on its head: from top down to bottom up, from costs to benefits, and from fear to hope.

High water

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Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy: Our Changing Climate and Extreme Weather of the Past and Future, by Adam Sobel (Harper Collins 2014, 336 pages, Special Offer $19.59)

In observance of the fifth anniversary of the storm in October: Was Hurricane Sandy a freak event – or a harbinger of things to come? Was climate change responsible? Why weren’t we better prepared? In this fascinating and accessible work, atmospheric scientist and Columbia University professor Adam Sobel addresses these questions, combining scientific explanation with first-hand experience of the event. Storm Surge brings together the melting glaciers, the shifting jet streams, and the warming oceans to make clear how our changing climate will make New York and other cities more vulnerable than ever to huge storms – and how we need to think differently about these long-term risks if we hope to mitigate the damage. Sobel’s book provokes us to rethink the future of our climate and how we can better prepare for the storms to come.

Rising Tides: Climate Refugees in the Twenty-First Century, by John W. Wennersten and Denise Robbins (Indiana University Press 2017, 272 pages, $20.00 paperback)

Global climate change is undeniable. Over the next few decades, as sea levels rise, storms intensify, and drought and desertification run rampant, hundreds of millions of civilians will abandon their homes, cities, and even entire countries. What will happen to these massive numbers of environmental refugees? Rising Tides sounds an urgent wakeup call to the growing crisis of climate refugees, and offers an essential, continent-by-continent look at these dangers. The crisis is everywhere and it is imminent. Detailing a number of solutions, John R. Wennersten and Denise Robbins argue that no nation can tackle this universal problem alone. The crisis of climate refugees requires global, concerted solutions beyond the strategic, fiscal, and legal capability of a single country or agency.

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilized World, by Jeff Goodell (Hachette Book Group 2017, 352 pages, $28.00)

With each crack in the great ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctica, and each tick upwards of Earth’s thermometer, we are moving closer to the brink of broad disaster. By century’s end, hundreds of millions of people will be retreating from the world’s shores as our coasts become inundated and our landscapes transformed. From island nations to the world’s major cities, coastal regions will disappear. The Water Will Come is the definitive account of the coming water, why and how this will happen, and what it will all mean. As he travels across twelve countries and reports from the front lines, acclaimed journalist Jeff Goodell employs fact, science, and first-person, on-the-ground journalism to show vivid scenes from what already is becoming a water world.

See also the YCC Bookshelf on The Rising Seas of Climate Change.


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Living in the Anthropocene: Earth in the Age of Humans, edited by W. John Kress and Jeffrey K. Stine (Smithsonian Institution 2017, 208 pages, $34.95)

Although we arrived only recently in Earth’s timeline, humans are driving major changes to the planet’s ecosystems. Even now, the basic requirements for human life – air, water, shelter, food, nature, and culture – are rapidly transforming the planet as billions of people compete for resources. These changes have become so noticeable on a global scale that scientists believe we are living in a new chapter in Earth’s story. Living in the Anthropocene: Earth in the Age of Humans reviews environmental and biological systems that have been changed; the causes of these changes; how societies are responding and adapting to these changes; and how these changes have been represented in art, film, television, and literature. Finally, Living in the Anthropocene looks toward the future of our environment and our own lives.

Birth of a New Earth: The Radical Politics of Environmentalism, by Adrian Parr (Columbia University Press 2017, 328 pages, $28.00 paperback)

In Birth of a New Earth, Adrian Parr calls for a shift from an opposition between revolution and incremental change to a renewed collective imagination. Parr insists that environmental destruction is at its core a problem of democratization and decolonization. It requires reckoning with militarism, market fundamentalism, and global inequality and mobilizing an alternative political vision capable of freeing the collective imagination in order to replace an apocalyptic mindset frozen by the spectacle of violence. Parr discusses experiments in food sovereignty, collaborative natural-resource management, and public-interest design initiatives that test new models of economic democratization. Ultimately, environmental politics is the refusal to surrender life to the violence of global capitalism, corporate governance, and militarism.

The Climate Swerve: Reflections on Mind, Hope, and Survival, by Robert Jay Lifton (The New Press 2017, 192 pages, $22.95)

Over his long career as witness to an extreme twentieth century, Robert Jay Lifton has grappled with the profound effects of nuclear war, terrorism, and genocide. Now he shifts to climate change, which “presents us with what may be the most demanding and unique psychological task ever required of humankind.” Thanks to the power of corporate-funded climate denialists and the fact that [it does not appear to pose an immediate threat], a large swathe of humanity has numbed itself to the reality of climate change. Yet Lifton draws a message of hope from the Paris climate meeting of 2015 where representatives of virtually all nations joined in the recognition that we are a single species in deep trouble. Here, Lifton suggests, was evidence of how we might call upon the human mind to translate a growing species awareness – or “climate swerve” – into action to sustain our habitat and civilization.

See also the YCC Bookshelves on climate change and psychology and on the Anthropocene.


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Loosed Upon the World: The Sage Anthology of Climate Fiction, edited by John Joseph Adams (Saga Press 2015, 592 pages, $7.99 paperback)

Collected by the editor of the award-winning Lightspeed magazine, the first, definitive anthology of climate fiction – a cutting-edge genre made popular by Margaret Atwood. Is it the end of the world as we know it? Climate Fiction, or Cli-Fi, is exploring the world we live in now – and in the very near future – as the effects of global warming become more evident. Join bestselling, award-winning writers like Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, Kim Stanley Robinson, Seanan McGuire, and many others at the brink of tomorrow. Loosed Upon the World is so believable, it’s frightening.

Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance, by Bill McKibben (Penguin Books 2017, 240 pages, $22.00)

A book that’s also the beginning of a movement, Bill McKibben’s debut novel follows a band of Vermont patriots – including the host of an “underground, underpowered, and underfoot” radio station – who decide that their state might be better off as its own republic. In Radio Free Vermont, Bill McKibben entertains and expands upon an idea that’s become more popular than ever: seceding from the United States. He imagines an eccentric group of activists who carry out their own version of guerilla warfare, which includes dismissing local middle school children early in honor of “Ethan Allen Day” and hijacking a Coor’s Light truck and replacing the stock with local brew. Witty, biting, and terrifyingly timely, Radio Free Vermont is Bill McKibben’s fictional response to the burgeoning resistance movement.

Cli-Fi: Canadian Tales of Climate Change: The Exile Book of Anthology Series: Number Fourteen, edited by Bruce Meyer (Exile Editions 2017, 304 pages, $17.95 paperback)

Reacting to the warnings sounded by scientists and thinkers, writers are responding imaginatively to the seriousness of changing ocean conditions, the widening disappearance of species, genetically modified organisms, increasing food shortages, mass migrations of refugees, and the hubris behind our provoking Mother Earth herself. These stories of climate fiction feature perspectives by culturally diverse Canadian writers of short fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and futurist works, and transcend traditional doomsday stories by inspiring us to overcome the bleak forecasted results of our current indifference. Cli-Fi: Canadian Tale of Climate Change is an ideal anthology for university courses on literature and environmental issues.

See also the YCC Bookshelf entirely devoted to cli-fi or climate-fiction titles.

Michael Svoboda

Michael Svoboda

Michael Svoboda, Ph.D., is the Yale Climate Connections books editor. He is a professor in the University Writing Program at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he has taught since...