The Ice at the End of the World
Greenland has been an inspiration for many memorable books over the years, including Joanna Kavenna’s The Ice Museum and Tété-Michel Kpomassie’s An African in Greenland. John Gertner’s The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future examines the ways in which Greenland’s history has attracted scientists to its shores, and what their discoveries can tell us about life on Earth.
Birds by the Shore
Some writers can find the profound in the quotidian: for instance, using finely-sketched observations about one aspect of life to reflect on grander questions. Jennifer Ackerman’s Birds by the Shore uses a series of reflections on the fauna of the Delaware coast to explore bigger issues, ultimately arriving at a series of profound and moving conclusions.
Perhaps you’ve been watching the acclaimed Netflix series of the same name; perhaps you simply have a fondness for beautifully-shot images of the natural world. This large-scale book captures vivid images of plant and animal life across the globe, powerfully capturing the interconnectedness of this planet’s ecosystems, as well as the danger that they’re presently in.
The Fate of Food
Over the years, the scope of the food we eat has become increasingly global—which has effects both on the environment and has made the system more vulnerable to climate-based concerns. Amanda Little’s The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Smarter, Hotter World explores these issues, and ventures into what the future of food might look like in the years to come.
How to Give Up Plastic
What happens when something ubiquitous also offers the potential for pollution and health issues? Will McCallum’s How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time explores the ways that disposable plastic is ensconced in our daily lives, and how certain objects might be replaced with more sustainable alternatives.
Eat Like a Fish
Narratives about the lives of those who venture out into the ocean to search for fish have led to numerous memorable books over the years, including Anna Badkhen’s Fisherman’s Blues: A West African Community at Sea. Bren Smith’s Eat Like a Fish: My Adventures as a Fisherman Turned Restorative Ocean Farmer describes its author’s history with fishing and his exploration of how seaweed might well be the future of global dining.
No Good Alternative
William T. Vollmann
William T. Vollmann’s bibliography includes everything from expansive histories of global conflict to surreal immersions in American history. With No Good Alternative, the second volume of his massive Carbon Ideologies project (preceded by 2018’s No Immediate Danger), Vollmann explores global warming, its causes, and the people involved in all aspects of the debate.
Spying on Whales
Whales: they’re massive, they echolocate, and they’ve inspired one of the formative texts of American fiction. But there’s also plenty that we don’t know about whales, and it’s into this fray that Nick Pyenson has ventured, his book Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures in hand. In it, Pyenson explores everything from the evolution of the species to the effects of climate change on whales across the world, making for a comprehensive and sobering read.
The Wizard and the Prophet
For some, a vision of an Earth where more resources are used by more people is cause for celebration; for others, it’s a cause for panic. In Charles C. Mann’s The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World, the author discusses the origins of these two modes of thought and traces how they’ve impacted the global debate over the last few decades.
Casting into the Light
The art and technique of fishing alone has been a subject of fascination for generations of writers. There’s the blend of solitude and action, taken in tandem with minute observations of the details and changes to be found within the natural world. Janet Messineo’s Casting into the Light: Tales of a Fishing Life documents its author’s passion for fishing and her time spent on Martha’s Vineyard, creating a moving sense of communities surrounded by nature.
The Dreamt Land
Images of farmland turned dusty and inhospitable have been chilling and iconic since the days of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, if not before. Mark Arax’s The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California explores the history and future of the system that brought water to much of California in the 1940s and beyond, leading to an overarching story that’s both inspiring and unsettling.
Eating the Sun
Ella Frances Sanders
Some information about the environment, science, and way we interact with the natural world can best be conveyed with a blend of words and pictures. Such is the case with Ella Frances Sanders’s Eating the Sun: Small Musings on a Vast Universe, which blends grand scientific principles with an everyday perspective, juxtaposing the cosmic with the quotidian.
The Promise of the Grand Canyon
John F. Ross
Few natural features are as recognizable in the United States as the Grand Canyon. In The Promise of the Grand Canyon: John Wesley Powell’s Perilous Journey and His Vision for the American West, John F. Ross takes on Powell’s 1869 expedition down the Colorado River through said canyon and explores how Powell’s observations on the environment served as a harbinger for events that would occur decades later.
If you are, in fact, looking to decrease or eliminate your household use of plastics, this tautly-composed exploration of environmental solutions might just be what you’re looking for. It explores different ways in which plastics can be replaced with other objects, pointing towards a more sustainable tomorrow.
The Uninhabitable Earth
The subtitle of David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming gives a sense of the full and ominous picture painted within its pages. In this book, Wallace-Wells explores the way that climate change will alter things on a global level, from political upheaval to changes in plant and animal life to a literally tumultuous landscape. It’s a powerful look at what the coming years may have in store.
With each passing year, the importance of protecting and preserving the planet’s environment becomes more and more paramount. The effects of climate change, from devastating storms to massive floods, have made an impact across the globe, and the sociopolitical implications of their effects remain a massive issue for governments and institutions worldwide.
If you’re looking to learn more about the world around us, its history, or what you can do to improve certain conditions on it, there are numerous books out there offering a window as to how you can do just that. Some offer visions of particularly striking parts of the world; others provide tips for how to live a more ecologically balanced and sustainable life. If your Earth Day routine involves thinking more about the connections between humans and the world around us, these climate change books offer plenty to ponder.
Featured image: Death to Stock Photography