Climate Access Summer Reading List

Climate Access Summer Reading List

Thanks to all the Climate Access members who submitted such excellent recommended reading. Each selection in our first annual summer reading list is unique, although a few authors have more than one book cited. The list is mainly books, with a few suggested articles and other publications included at the end. Happy reading!

Climate Access members are encouraged to sign in to make additional submissions as well as comments. Everyone is able to make suggestions on our Facebook page

A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions by Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley
“IPCC scientist Katharine Hayhoe and her husband, evangelical pastor Andrew Farley, both lay out climate science in a very effective way, and model how they communicate successfully about climate science in their evangelical, socially conservative church community in Lubbock, Texas.” (Joelle Novey, Interfaith Power & Light)
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. 
“In a highly engaging manner, the book makes clear six rules for communicating more effectively about virtually any topic, including climate change.” (Edward Maibach, George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication)
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath
“I really like the change management framework. I’ve read the book twice now and am re-skimming for a personal change initiative I’ve undertaken recently (a health & fitness challenge!).” (Nathaly Agosto Filion, Institute for Sustainable Communities, who also recommends the first couple of chapters of Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson for its tidbits about the value of cities as the hubs for innovation and the intermingling of ideas.  
The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin
“Yergin offers a readable, comprehensive survey of the energy choices we made in the past and the energy choices we face today. The book includes a solid chapter on climate change science, making clear the robust science that backs up concerns about climate risks. Ideologues beware! You might not like what you read. The facts laid out in this book belie energy talking points on both sides of the aisle.” (Jim DiPeso, ConservAmerica)
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales.
“Gonzales is involved in a long-term journalistic study of how accidents happen, analyzing both the physical systems involved and, more importantly, the human psychology that gets people into and out of trouble. These psychological aspects have proven to be a perfect analogy for humanity’s responses to climate change. The analogs involve both our apparent inability to engage with the problem effectively (as a nation or global community), and as a guide for how to approach the problem successfully…. Deep Survival, which explores extreme life or death situations, has a deep and clear description of the characteristics that help people cope with crises when the outcomes are uncertain. it has become a classic in the field. Everyone should read it!” (Tom Bowman of Bowman Global Change, who also recommends another Gonzales book: Everyday Survival: Why Smart People do Stupid Things)
The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization by Thomas Homer-Dixon
“He takes a systems approach to climate change, and makes a compelling argument around looking at resiliency-based solutions.” (Alnoor Ladha, Purpose)
Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution by Thomas Friedman
“Many enthusiastic climate activists are very keyed into the threats climate change poses to nature–animals, habitats. Because these are people who are very tuned into the ecological threats, they may be less in tune with the barriers to solutions from an geopolitical perspective. His book breaks it down, and will provide a footing for folks who have naturally gravitated towards the ‘nature’ side of the issue to understand the economic and political underpinnings that make the needle so difficult to move on this issue–as well as practical ideas for what progress looks like.” (Mike Chamberlain, Monterey Bay Aquarium)
Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor by Rob Nixon
“Though it was written before Tropic of Chaos, it is a great supplement to those who wish to delve further into the topic.  This interest may be driven by compassion or charity, and/or it may be driven by the growing certainty that the described consequences of climate change will soon be coming to a neighborhood near you.” (Rev. Earl W. Koteen, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry California)
The Fate Of The Species:  Why The Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction And How We Can Stop It by Fred Guterl
“I would absolutely recommend the new book on catastrophic climate tipping points from the executive editor of Scientific American.” (Jeff Nesbit, Climate Nexus)
Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places by Andrew Blackwell
“It’s a wonderful read – part travelogue, part voyage of personal discovery around finding things to appreciate and love in some terrible places. He visits both ends of the potential Keystone pipeline: the Alberta tar sands, and Port Arthur, TX.  Not really climate related, but has a lot to say about our relationship with “nature” and beyond, and how learning to love the polluted places in our own back yards can help us reconnect to the world.” (Cat Lazaroff, Resource Media, who also recommends The Social Animal by David Brooks for anyone who has ever wondered why people make certain decisions, or form certain kinds of relationships with other people, with organizations and with their place in the world)
Maybe One: A Personal and Environmental. Argument for Single-Child Families by Bill McKibben
“An oldie but a goodie.  As a community we always are a bit reluctant to take on the topic of population, and I thought this book did it quite elegantly.  It really changed the way that I thought about the question of whether to have kids in an age of climate change.  It was written long enough ago, that it’s interesting to see how many of the projections are now unfolding before our eyes.  It’s also a page turner and a fast read.” (Keya Chatterjee, WWF)
Global Warming, Natural Hazards, and Emergency Management by George Haddow, Jane A. Bullock and Kim Haddow
“I know it is probably not kosher to recommend your own book, but I still think our book is the only one out there that provides concrete examples of how climate change adaptation can be implemented at the community level.” (George Haddow of Bullock & Haddow LLC, who also recommends Eaarth: Making A Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben)

Vulnerability of Tropical Pacific Fisheries and Aquaculture to Climate Change edited by Johann Bell, Johanna Johnson and Alistair Hobday
“This is a recent book about climate change…that claims there will be winners and losers from climate change, and the way Pacific governments react and adapt will be vital. The book incorporates the contributions of 88 scientists from around the world in 36 different countries.” (Jenni Metcalfe, Econnect Communication)

The Challenge of Man’s Future: An Inquiry Concerning The Condition Of Man During The Years That Lie Ahead
by Harrison Brown
“Currently out of print, but introduced to me by Dan Kammen at Cal, who was left a stack by John Holdren when Dan took over his office at the Energy and Resources Group. The book inspired John Holdren (Obama’s science advisor) towards his career.” (Carter Brooks,, whose runner up choice is Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez because it “details the complexity of a world where ice is so important, and the very world we are losing at the moment.”)
Buck up, Suck up…and Come Back When You Foul Up: 12 Winning Secrets from the War Room by James Carville and Paul Begala
“Good fun, light summer reading with plenty of salty language and good advice for effective communication from two of the brains behind the Clinton War Room.” (Ben Long, Resource Media)
Climate Hope: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Coal by Ted Nace
“It highlights the one area where we are winning: coal.  And it is already out of date in that we now have legally binding agreements and announcements for the retirement of 116 coal plants of the 500+ in the country. One of the lessons learned from the federal cap-and-trade debate and from the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) is that if we take an economy-wide and system approach to this system-wide problem, then coal goes first.  Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and the easiest to replace, so of course it was the big loser with the federal Waxman-Markey bill and the WCI.  And now since we do not have a comprehensive approach, we must go after the weakest link first — coal — and take down these big bad polluters one at a time.  It is too slow, but it is also the only winning climate campaign right now.” (Doug Howell, Sierra Club)
Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
“I recommend this as a resource for those concerned about the climate because it goes into some detail on how best to motivate actual humans to change their behavior (which is what this is all about).” (Emily Norton, Environment Northeast)
Climate Change for Football Fans: A Matter of Life and Death by James Atkins
“The book is written by a very British carbon trader living in Budapest. Worth a read at a minimum for the sharp writing, but an even more commendable title for bridging the yawning climate communications gap. That is, the book makes climate change real and accessible for the non-scientist/policy wonk through a mix of wit and storytelling. The author also hosts a blog that mixes creative writing with climate policy:” (Tim Stumhofer, Greenhouse Gas Management Institute)
Preparing for Climate Change by Michael D. Mastrandrea and Stephen H. Schneider
“(They) argue for climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, and how our work must happen concurrently on these fronts. This was published after Schneider’s death, so it is likely his last comments on climate change, making it all the more important. This is essential reading – it is compact and powerful – and it is an excellent introduction to climate change policy. The authors suggest that it isn’t too late to mitigate climate change impacts, but they are also realistic about the damage already done. The planet lost a great warrior when Stephen Schneider died – hopefully this book can continue to educate and inform people who are undecided about climate change or spur those who are true believers into further action.” (Susan Frank, The Better World Group)
Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West by James Lawrence Powell
“For Western folk I recommend: (from the write-up) Writing for a wide audience, Powell shows us exactly why an urgent threat during the first half of the twenty-first century will come not from the rising of the seas but from the falling of the reservoirs.” (Mark Megalos, North Carolina State University)
Fostering Sustainable Behavior: An Introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing By Doug McKenzie-Mohr
“A wonderful introduction and overview of community-based social marketing. Essential reading for developing effective, evidence-based, behavior change campaigns.” (Stephanie Sims, University of Florida)
Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing our World by David Gershon
“My book fits this bill well. It describes our research on behavior change and has one chapter that explicitly applies it to the issue of climate change.” (David Gershon, Empowerment Institute)
Growing Wealthier: Smart Growth, Climate Change, & Prosperity by Chuck Kooshian and Steve Winkelman
“CCAP’s (book) brought economics to the forefront of the smart growth debate. The report presents evidence on how smart growth principles can improve the bottom line for businesses, households and governments by increasing property values, cutting fuel and infrastructure costs and enhancing public health.” (Kelly Klima, Center for Clean Air Policy)
This Crazy Time: Living Our Environmental Challenge by Tzeporah Berman
“The autobiography of this leading, and at times controversial, Canadian environmentalist is fascinating, heartbreaking and, ultimately, inspiring. The book takes the reader behind the scenes during the Clayoquot Summer (1993), ForestEthics boycott campaigns as well as recent negotiations on climate change. Amid the facts and valuable lessons, I appreciated her honesty and sense of humor in conveying how various triumphs and failures have influenced her as a person. (David Minkow, Climate Access)
Mistakes Were Made, but not by me by Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson
“Great book! Explains self deception, how it works and how to over come it.” (Jim Hoggan, Hoggan & Associates)

Non-Book recommendations:

“I would strongly recommend Kari Norgaard’s report to the World Bank and the American Psychology Association’s report on the need for more therapists to be trained in dealing with the psychological impacts of climate change.” (Annie Heuscher, Community Food & Agriculture Coalition)

“I’d recommend: Douglas, M. & Wildavsky, A.B. Risk and Culture: An essay on the selection of technical and environmental dangers.” (Dan Kahan, Yales’ Cultural Cognition Project)

“There is a terrific article in the December 19, 2011 issue of the New Yorker, The Great Oasis, by Burkhard Bilger, about two competing versions of what can be done about desertification in Africa. I thought it was brilliant. It is excellent science writing, and a fascinating description of two compelling approaches to desertification on the continent.” (Jacqueline Frank, Africa Adaptation Programme Nairobi)

Photo via (cc) Flickr user chintermeyer