We have a huge number of books on environment and climate in our collection, and new titles are being published at an astounding rate as the science develops and as the reality of climate change sets in. It can be tempting to pass over these books, especially for those of us already experiencing climate grief or anxiety – the content is confronting and frankly scary. But the authors below are not here to bog us down in hopelessness. The facts they present are undeniable and their writing is urgent, but what they are offering us is a deeper understanding, showing how we might face our fears and channel our actions, and reminding us of the other paths that we – as individuals, as communities, as countries – can take.
There are all sorts here: poets and weather experts, gardeners and journalists, and between them all they cover a vast swathe of topics. If you want to understand the nitty-gritty science, then Under the Weather and Heat are the ones for you. To focus in on particular case studies, check out Fire Weather and Wasteland. For practical advice, Milkwood from Tasmanian-based permaculture experts looks fantastic, while Re-Food offers a road forward grounded in the Aotearoa context. Lastly, the philosophically-minded will enjoy the poetic Soil or the determined essays in Not Too Late.
Under the weather : a future forecast for New Zealand / Renwick, J. A.
“A warmer world will change more than just our weather patterns. It will change the look of the land around us, what grows and lives on it – including us. Drawing on climate models that can travel to ice ages and hothouses of the deep past, Professor James Renwick untangles how we know exactly what the future holds and why it matters to our everyday lives. He looks at New Zealand’s more frequent natural disasters, warming and rising sea levels, and the ways that the changing weather will affect our agriculture, lifestyle, food security and economy. Arresting, galvanizing and clear-sighted, Under the Weather is a picture of a miraculous planet in danger, a stock-take on what it means for this small country, and a reminder that the shape of our future is up to us.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Re-food : exploring the troubled food system of Aotearoa New Zealand / King, Emily
“In “Re-food”, Emily King advocates for a food systems approach to help the troubled food networks of Aotearoa New Zealand. She looks at the best ways forward to address challenges we face with soils, waterways, climate change, food waste, packaging, unhealthy diets, and a lack of access to food. Written in three parts, “Re-food” traverses the full food system and unpacks its issues along the way while providing timely and relevant ideas and inspiration for readers to solve these problems themselves. It offers tools, insights and mindset changes that chart a path towards a healthier, more sustainable food future, one which incorporates Te Ao Maori and our strengths as a top-quality food-producing nation.” (Catalogue)
Fire weather : a true story from a hotter world / Vaillant, John
“In May 2016, the city of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, burned to the ground, forcing 88,000 people to flee their homes. It was the largest evacuation ever of a city in the face of a forest fire, raising the curtain on a new age of increasingly destructive wildfires. This book is a suspenseful account of one of North America’s most devastating forest fires-and a stark exploration of our dawning era of climate catastrophes.” (Catalogue)
Soil : the story of a Black mother’s garden / Dungy, Camille T.
“Poet and scholar Camille T. Dungy recounts the seven-year odyssey to diversify her garden in the predominately white community of Fort Collins, Colorado. When she moved there in 2013, with her husband and daughter, the community held strict restrictions about what residents could and could not plant in their gardens. In resistance to the homogeneous policies that limited the possibility and wonder that grows from the earth, Dungy employs the various plants, herbs, vegetables, and flowers she grows in her garden as metaphor and treatise for how homogeneity threatens the future of our planet, and why cultivating diverse and intersectional language in our national discourse about the environment is the best means of protecting it.” (Catalogue)
Wasteland : the secret world of waste and the urgent search for a cleaner future / Franklin-Wallis, Oliver
“Outlining the inequitable ways in which the world disposes of trash and sharing the stories of those affected, Franklin-Wallis pays keen attention to how waste disposal intersects with social justice. He achieves the difficult feat of making an ostensibly mundane topic feel urgent, and the compassionate profiles effectively humanize a problem that’s massive in scope. Additionally, his proposed solutions are well considered, including suggestions to “make greenwashing illegal” and hold companies responsible for the waste they produce, no matter where it ends up. It’s a vital call to action.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The Milkwood permaculture living handbook : habits for hope in a changing world / Bradley, Kirsten
“Packed with practical skills and projects, it’s regenerative living for busy people who want to make a positive impact in a world out of balance. Discover how simple changes to your every day can make a big difference. Maybe it’s decluttering your home, growing sprouts on your windowsill, connecting with your community or taking on a locavore mini-challenge. Maybe it’s going waste-free or falling in love with compost. Inspired by the life-affirming principles of permaculture, all 60 habits will help you reconnect with your ecosystem, save money and celebrate sustainable living.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
An atlas of endangered species / McCubbin, Megan
“There are currently 41,415 listed endangered species, and over 16,000 of them are threatened with extinction. Some are well known, while others are at risk of being forgotten before they’re gone. This book takes just 20 of these amazing creatures, from the ‘celebrities’ of the red list – the orangutan, the northern white rhino, the kakapo – to the lesser-known, and sometimes lesser loved ones, and paints a portrait of them, their world, and the people trying to protect them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Heat : life and death on a scorched planet / Goodell, Jeff
“Extreme heat is a first order threat that drives all other impacts of the climate crisis. As the temperature rises, fault lines are revealed in our governments, politics, economy and values. This book is about the extreme ways in which our planet is already changing. It is about the impacts of heat on everything from our food to disease outbreaks, our houses and our jobs. It is about what will happen to our lives and our communities when typical summer days go from 30°C to 43°C. Masterfully reported, mixing the latest scientific insight with on-the-ground storytelling and interviews, Goodell tackles the big questions and uncovers how extreme heat is a force beyond anything we have reckoned with before.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Not too late : changing the climate story from despair to possibility
“Not Too Late brings strong climate voices from around the world to address the political, scientific, social, and emotional dimensions of the most urgent issue human beings have ever faced. Accessible, encouraging, and engaging, it’s an invitation to everyone to understand the issue more deeply, participate more boldly, and imagine the future more creatively. Shaped by the clear-eyed wisdom of editors Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua, Not Too Late is a guide to take us from climate crisis to climate hope.” (Adapted from Catalogue)