Feel the Heat: A Climate Change Summer Reading List

The dog days of summer are upon us. (Well, at least for most of us: All you Aussies and Kiwis out there may want to put on a sweater and ignore this post.) 

As you sit on your (beach-chair/porch/Harley/rear) deciding whether to have another (tequila-sunrise/sno-cone/nap/panic-attack), you probably will be contemplating your navel, rather than thinking about how climate change is (scary/China’s-fault/inconvenient/a crock).

Sooner or later, though, you’ll get the urge to read. And once you’ve gotten sick of (Harry-Potter/Danielle-Steel/Matt-Taibbi/the-glare-on-you-ipad), why not dig into some climate change reading instead? You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and without a doubt, you’ll recommit to changing your behavior.    

Here are some books to consider:

1>The Weather Makers
Tim Flannery

What An Inconvenient Truth accomplished on film, Flannery does in print. Enlightening, well written, and in some cases chilling.
“Had humans found bromine cheaper or more convenient to use than chlorine (for CFCs)…we would be enduring unprecedented rates of cancer…our food supply would have collapsed….and we would have had no idea why until it was too late.”

Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
Elizabeth Kolbert

The book is adapted from her excellent New Yorker series on the visible effects of Climate Change.
“We’ve got one planet, and we are heading it in a direction that, quite fundamentally, we don’t know what the consequences are going to be.”

3> The Bridge at The Edge of The World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability
James Gustave Speth  

A call to arms from the founder of both the NRDC and WRI.
“Speth laments that any headway made in making our lives more “green” is far outpaced by the destruction caused by our consumption-driven culture. He warns that if we stay on our current profit-obsessed course, we are headed for environmental, political and financial ruin.” 
You go, Gus!

4> China Road -A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power
Rob Gifford

NPR’s China correspondent profiles how development and the lure of wealth is changing the nation — and the entire planet. Engaging and insightful.
“The smokestacks and the factories announce salvation, symbols at last of modernerity and an opportunity to earn more…”

For those of you who prefer fiction, a couple of titles that I recommend are:

1> A Friend of The Earth
TC Boyle

One of my favorite authors, I find that Boyle’s writing is maddeningly uneven. But at his best, he is the most talented and wicked satirist on the planet. This may not be his best, but its still pretty good. He envisioned a future (in this case 2025) where climate change has drastically altered the planet, well before others novelists picked up on the theme. A word of caution, this book spares no one, from eco-warriors, to corporations, to a thinly veiled version of Julia Butterfly Hill. There are seldom heroes in Boyle’s works.

2> Ultimatum

Matthew Glass

This one is not yet available in paperback, as far as I know, but there seem to be plenty of cheap used copies….and there is always the library!
As the Economist said, “The book may be set in the future, but it is really about today. Ultimatum does a better job of convincing the reader about the price the world will pay for its complacency about global warming than any international grandstanding or dry scientific reports.”

Finally (to make it an even ten, as my editors requested), here are four more ‘better known’ titles that don’t get top billing, but still make the cut:

Our Choice, Al Gore

The Black Swan,
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The World is Hot Flat and Crowded
, Thomas Friedman

Low Carbon Diet
, by David Gershon

If you have read any of the above, let me know what you think. And feel free to suggest other titles as well. 


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Photo Copyright: Flickr Creative Commons License - DerrickT


LMj Sunshine
James Merit4 years ago

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit4 years ago

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit4 years ago

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit4 years ago

Thank you.

Beng Kiat Low
low beng kiat7 years ago


dve d.
aa b7 years ago


wizzy wizard
wiz wi7 years ago

noted and it was a green book


Thanks! I Am really glad to get some more titles of books to read on this subject. It is a bit of a coincidence, as I went in to our little library today and come out with a copy of "We Are The Weather Makers, by Tim Flannery! I will try and get some more of your suggestions ordered in.

Alison Baker
Alison Baker7 years ago

Reading the books is one thing. Believing the message is another. I'm amazed at the number of people that see how fast the glaciers have disappeared & still don't believe in global warming. Or they believe it & don't believe in the significance in the human contribution.

Michel P.
Past Member 7 years ago