So many great books have been written about the environment that it’s hard to choose a handful of the best. I’d add some of my own to the list, including The Sacred Balance and Just Cool It! Here are a few books by other writers that continue to inspire me.
Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson (Penguin, 1962)
This book changed everything for me. Published in 1962, as I was beginning my career in genetics, Carson’s book gave birth to the environmental movement and transformed my world view. Her compelling research into the effects of insecticides on biodiversity all the way up the food chain opened my eyes to the interconnected nature of existence and the limitations of reductionist science.
Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari (Signal, 2014)
With this fascinating history of humanity, Harari challenges many of our preconceived notions about civilization, notions that have been so deeply ingrained that reading Sapiens is like flipping a switch. Was the Agricultural Revolution a great leap for humanity, or did it make life worse for most people – and animals? Harari’s answer is surprising. Like some of the other books on this list, Sapiens is an insightful look at where we are as a species and where we’re headed.
The Future Eaters, by Tim Flannery (Grove Press, 2002)
I’ve long been fascinated with Australia – its history, people and flora and fauna. In his examination of the ecological and human history of Australasia (Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and New Guinea), scientist Flannery offers insights into our relationship to our surroundings. He discovers that learning how best to live with the environment of which we are a part holds more promise for our future than trying to tame and dominate it.
Heat, by George Monbiot (Penguin, 2006)
Like Just Cool It!, by Ian Hanington and me, George Monbiot’s Heat examines climate change and its solutions from many angles. As dire as the situation is, Monbiot knows that we still have time to save ourselves. In his always readable style, he lays out clearly what needs to be done and how we can do it.
The End of Nature, by Bill McKibben (Anchor, 1989)
Like all my favourite books, The End of Nature argues for a shift in the way humans relate to nature. Whereas humans once understood and revered nature and our part in it, we are now affecting the world’s geophysical properties. McKibben looks at how we got here and what we must do if we are to survive.
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