It is time to update the list of recommended books on climate change and global warming. I assume that with the holidays coming, you will want to give some people some science books, and climate change related books should be near the top of the list for you. I'm doing a separate post on evolution related books, and another on bird and nature books, as well.
I'm going to keep this short and focus on a small number of books. To get on this list the book has to be good and current, with two notable exceptions (see below).
Global Warming Books For Kids
Please Don't Paint Our Planet Pink!: A Story for Children and their Adults is newish, and excellent. The idea is simple. Imagine if you could see CO2? In the book, it is imagined to be pink. The imagining takes the form of a quirky father, one imagines him to be an inventor of some sort, coming up with the idea of making goggles that would allow you to see CO2 as a pink gas. This is all described by the man’s patient but clearly all suffering son, who eventually dons the prototype goggles and sees for himself.
I read this to Huxley, age 5, and he loved it. He kept asking questions, and saying things like, “Is that true? Really?” I knew he would enjoy the book for its witty chatter and excellent illustrations, but frankly I did not expect him to be enthralled. He is fairly laid back when it comes to matters of science, nature, and for that matter, mathematics. He tends to absorb, then, later makes up song about it or comes up with difficult questions. His reaction was unique.
Bill McKibben’s reaction was pretty strong too. He is quoted as saying, “I’ve often wondered what would happen if CO2 were visible. Now I know!” … except he already knew. There would be pink everywhere. At the density of about 400ppm. More than the 350 value that gives his organization its name!
New on the market is Climate Change: Discover How It Impacts Spaceship Earth (Build It Yourself). This book covers many concepts in earth science, from paleontology to climate systems to how to make a battery out of apple (how can a kid’s science activity not include the apple battery!). This book represents an interesting concept, because it involves kids in mostly easy to do at home projects, covers numerous scientific concepts, and takes the importance of global climate change as a given. There is a good amount of history of research, though the book does not cover a lot of the most current scientists and their key work (I’d have liked to see a chapter specifically on the Hockey Stick and the paleo record, thought these concepts are included along with the other material).
One of the coolest things about the book is the material on what an individual can do to address energy and climate related problems, including (but not limited to) advice on activism, such as writing letters to government officials. I reviewed it here.
Climate Change Books For The Passionate Activist
Joe Romm, author of the 2008 book Hell and High Water: The Global Warming Solution, has a new book, just out, which is a must read. Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know® is an up to date and complete overview of the climate change crisis, with an added twist. Romm's new book has very specific advice for how to address climate change in your own life -- how to adapt. Romm also suggests how to take personal action to lessen the crisis overall, of course. I reviewed the book here.
Also brand new is Wen Stephenson's book, What We're Fighting for Now Is Each Other: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Climate Justice. I've not reviewed the book yet, but I've looked through it, and I know Wes. Bill McKibben notes that Wes's book "captures [the climate change movement] with grace and power."
Wen Stephenson is a journalist, who one day realized the urgency of climate change, and took it to heart. He left his career and became a full time activist. In case you were wondering if you could do that, apparently you can. The book is referred to as "An urgent, on-the-ground look at some of the “new American radicals” who have laid everything on the line to build a stronger climate justice movement."
In What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other, Stephenson tells his own story and offers an up-close, on-the-ground look at some of the remarkable and courageous people—those he calls “new American radicals”—who have laid everything on the line to build and inspire this fast-growing movement: old-school environmentalists and young climate-justice organizers, frontline community leaders and Texas tar-sands blockaders, Quakers and college students, evangelicals and Occupiers. Most important, Stephenson pushes beyond easy labels to understand who these people really are, what drives them, and what they’re ultimately fighting for. He argues that the movement is less like environmentalism as we know it and more like the great human-rights and social-justice struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from abolitionism to civil rights. It’s a movement for human solidarity.
Give This Global Warming Book To Your Uncle Bob
I feel sorry for anyone who's name is actually "Bob" and who is actually someone's uncle. First, there is that expression, "And Bob's your uncle." But also, "Uncle Bob" has become the name of that man you meet at Thanksgiving who doesn't believe in science (evolution, climate change, whatever) and likes to annoy you, a science-oriented person, with his denialism because he thinks it is funny, or somehow, his duty.
The book I'm suggesting in this category is not really for Uncle Bob. It is for you. Then you go talk to Uncle Bob. Dana Nuccitelli had this great idea of doing a survey of all the crap science deniers have said about the climate, including some marginal scientists, predicting cooling, saying the models are wrong, etc. etc., then comparing this to the actual science. In other words, Climatology versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics by Dana Nuccitelli, is quite literally the comparison between actual science and fake science.
Dana is along term contributor to the site SkepticalScience.com, which is your go-to source to prepare for, or come back from, that conversation with Uncle Bob. This is a really good book, which I reviewed here, and needs to be part of your arsenal. This is also one of those books your school library MUST have. Call them, make sure they do.
Everyperson's Guide To The IPCC, Best Single Book On Climate Change Science
Dire Predictions, 2nd Edition: Understanding Climate Change gets its own category because it is the only book in that category, plus, if you are going to get one book on climate change this year, this is the one you should get. This is the second edition, updated to reflect the most recent IPCC findings.
The IPCC report itself is of course a great read, if you have lot of time and take a couple of courses in earth system science first. But if you want to get all the information the IPCC report on the scientific basis for climate change, along with some of the policy stuff, this is the book. If you are teaching a class on climate change at the middle or upper High School or intro College level, or if climate change is part of a larger class on earth systems, this is your textbook. It is, as the title suggests, at visual guide, basically pictures and captions, which is the only part of most scientific stuff you read anyway. So just get this book, get two or three and give them away as presents.
My review of the book, which is here, includes an interview with one of the authors, climate scientist Michael Mann.
The Best Book About The Climate Change Science Wars
I see this again and again. A science denier writes a comment on a blog post or on Facebook referring to the Hacked Emails of Climategate, or to the Debunking of the Hockey Stick, or this or that shenanigans by climate scientists. A pro-science person responds, but their response is weak, lacks some important information or perspective, or otherwise falls short. And in my head, I scream, "OMG FFS have you not read Michael Mann's book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, which totally covers this in detail and tells you exactly what happens??????"
The ongoing assault on climate science in the United States has never been more aggressive, more blatant, or more widely publicized than in the case of the Hockey Stick graph — a clear and compelling visual presentation of scientific data, put together by MichaelE. Mann and his colleagues, demonstrating that global temperatures have risen in conjunction with the increase in industrialization and the use of fossil fuels. Here was an easy-to-understand graph that, in a glance, posed a threat to major corporate energy interests and those who do their political bidding. The stakes were simply too high to ignore the Hockey Stick — and so began a relentless attack on a body of science and on the investigators whose work formed its scientific basis.
The Hockey Stick achieved prominence in a 2001 UN report on climate change and quickly became a central icon in the “climate wars.” The real issue has never been the graph’s data but rather its implied threat to those who oppose governmental regulation and other restraints to protect the environment and planet. Mann, lead author of the original paper in which the Hockey Stick first appeared, shares the story of the science and politics behind this controversy. He reveals key figures in the oil and energy industries and the media frontgroups who do their bidding in sometimes slick, sometimes bare-knuckled ways. Mann concludes with the real story of the 2009 “Climategate” scandal, in which climate scientists’ emails were hacked. This is essential reading for all who care about our planet’s health and our own well-being.
Mann's book is not newly published, but it is newly out in paperback, and since it is an expose of a particular period in Climate Wars history, it is very much not out of date. If this is not on your climate change bookshelf then you don't really have a climate change bookshelf.
The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change is rich, scholarly, and expensive as many academic books are. But it has been out for a while now. But the book has been out long enough that you may be able to obtain a very inexpensive copy of it, so I'm mentioning it here. Yes, it will be somewhat out of date but not that much, and you can combine it with Dire Predictions or other sources to fill in that gap. When I check Amazon for it, I see it for dirt cheap. Now is your chance.
I really liked this creative book: Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change. The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change
Good for middle-schoolers on up.
David, great suggestion. I've not seen it, but I'm very familiar with the Cartoon Guides and they are very good. I'll have to get a copy of this!
Dire Predictions is now available (within the last month) in Canada for Kindle if anyone else has been waiting 6 months for Amazon.ca to provide it when Amazon.com had one since April.
Greg, the word lessen was typed by mistake or by autocorrect as lesson re typo alert above in one of reviews word not misspelled
Re the joe romm book...lessen not lesson please fix if time
Thanks, Dan B.
Dan A, have you seen the Kindle edition? If so, how does it look?
A few books on climate change that I'd highly recommend if I may - although they aren't new anymore :
1) 'Poles Apart' by Gareth Morgan and John McCrystal which carefully & fairly reviews the claims and evidence from both sides and then comes to the right conclusion, a good thorough, easily readable text albeit written back in 2007.
2) Feeling the Heat' by Jo Chandler, a journalist who interviews a lot of scientists and tells their stories - and her personal one too - of the struggle to understand and explain and get action on climate change which is brilliantly written, moving and extremely well-researched. Published 2011 by Melbourne University Press.
3) 'Heat' by George Monbiot which deals with and assesses possible solutions to the issue and was published in 2006 & 2007.
4) The Weather Makers" by Tim Flannery, Aussie Climate Council head & great author and scientist who has starred in a number of TV docos here as well as much more. Well-written and informative its focused on the history of how we discovered the HIRGO* problem and on its future impacts. Published 2005.
5) Storms of My Grandchildren' by James Hansen, NASA climatologist and the scientist the Bush administration tried to censor. Excellent insiders view with a lot of technical information plus Hansen's proposed plans to act with his Fee and Dividend idea. Published 2009.
The latter two are pretty well-known, the first three not as much. But all those are well worth reading in my opinion. There are many other books on Climate change I'd recommend but those five would probably be my favourites.
Hmm... It has been awhile since I last got and read anything new on this subject. Might have to see if I can find a couple of these newer ones if I can afford it. (Already got Michael Mann's one and would second that recommendation too.) Thanks Greg Laden.
* HIRGO = Human-Induced Rapid Global Overheating, my term not his. Because "warming"is deceptively mild and this term plainly emphasises the problem best in my view.
I just learned of a self-published book by Mary Guay, who styles herself "Green Granny." It's a paperback, $14.95 on Amazon, and has gotten good reviews.
CLIMATE CHANGE: Our Children Are in Danger