Earth Day 2022: Climate scientists and activists recommended reading lists

The climate crisis is, in essence, a colossal, knotty problem that will take all of humanity’s innovation and ingenuity to untangle.

And where better to start fostering on the dazzling numbers of ideas and plans that will be needed than with an inspiring pile of books.

To mark Earth Day this Friday, scientists, global policy leaders and climate activists have shared with The Independent their go-to books in honor of Earth Day – and why they matter so much.

Kimberly Nicholas, Associate Professor of Sustainability Science, Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies

Reading Emma Loewe’s Return To Nature is an antidote to burnout and a gentle invitation to expansive possibilities for awe, restoration, and gratitude right outside your front door. This gorgeously illustrated, beautifully written book invites you on an immersive journey through eight landscapes, combining fascinating insights into how nature restores our minds with accessible rituals to engage all your senses to experience and enjoy nature’s healing benefits for yourself. Along the way, you’ll learn simple but profound mindset shifts to appreciate our own role in the web of life, including solid practical advice on how we can better care for nature in our everyday lives as consumers and citizens, to protect and expand its gifts.

i wrote Under The Sky We Make as a guide to finding your climate purpose. I wanted to give readers a set of principles and a guide, based on both scientific evidence and personal lived experience, to find ways to cope with overwhelming climate facts and feelings, and harness them to take meaningful action. Readers tell me that reading has helped them feel less alone, more able to face the news, and brought them closer to the people and places around them as they figure out how to align their values ​​and actions at this critical moment for life on Earth.

Irene Wabiwa Betoko, International Project Leader for the Congo Basin forest, Greenpeace Africa

I first came across the Ugandan activist, Vanessa Nakate, when she kickstarted a social media movement #SaveCongoRainforest to raise awareness to the risks the Congo basin forest is facing.

As a Congolese environmentalist, I’ve been trying for years to draw the world’s attention to the world’s second largest rainforest, its importance (for climate, biodiversity and rainfall across Africa, as well as for the rights of Indigenous and local communities) and the threats it is facing.

Vanessa got the world’s attention within months using just a hashtag and relentless passion.

Her first book, A Bigger Picture,brings a strong, articulate, informed young African voice. Such voices need to be heard more consistently in the global conversation on the fate of our planet. Africa is the world’s youngest continent. It is also the continent that suffers most from the pillage of its natural treasures, in forests and in oceans, and is most impacted by the climate crisis. Vanessa’s book leaves me hopeful that our continent’s youth will carry out the green revolution that it needs.

Adenike Oladosu, climate justice activist and founder of ILeadClimate, a pan-Africa grassroots movement

There are several books in the world today that tells us about the climate crisis, the solutions that exist and why climate action matters. But Stone Soup For A Sustainable World – Life-Changing Stories of Young Heroes (by Marianne Larned) includes the realities of the climate change crisis of young people from 100 countries and different continents. It says, “they appeal to our collective humanity. They are intelligent, resourceful, & committed to doing whatever it takes to wake people up to the climate crisis”.

Tierra Curry, Senior Scientist and Saving Life on Earth Campaign Director, Center for Biological Diversity

The Animal Lover’s Guide to Changing the World by Stephanie Feldstein is filled with easy, practical actions that anyone can take to live a more environmentally- and animal-friendly life. From everyday habits to how to create a campaign for change, this book helps readers better understand how they can affect the climate and wildlife. It also features fascinating facts about wildlife that help connect us to the other species that share our world. A book filled with practical and simple actions is both empowering and necessary as we face the climate and extinction crises. And in an age of climate anxiety, Feldstein makes activism accessible without the guilt trip. It’s an important read for aspiring advocates of any age.

Susan Gardner, Director of the Ecosystem Division at the UN Environment Program (UNEP)

The Book of Hope,by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams, an honest account of the devastating threats of climate and other global challenges, is also inspiring action to move forward and contribute to solutions.

It describes a circularity of hope and action: the key to hope is to recognize challenges, while envisioning the future we want. Jane recalls her her first journey to Africa in the 1950s. Since she was trained as a secretary and not a scientist, her greatest strengths were her adventurous spirit and perception of the natural world without biases.

Approaching 90 years old, Jane now has an invaluable perspective that it is not too late, but we must act with far greater ambition. Throughout our lifetime, nature has been extensively degraded, a process which is attributed in the book to a fundamental lack of compassion for future generations and a lack of education and poverty. Having gone so far, nature cannot merely be protected, the restoration of ecosystems is an imperative of our age.

The Independent has launched an exclusive Climate Warrior bulletin, written by activists. Sign up here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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