2035: The Report, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, June 2020. Available at https://www.2035report.com/
A policy paper that explains in detail how to get to a 90% renewables electrical grid by 2035 – using existing technology. Target dates are useless unless there is a plan to fulfill them, so this is an important interim step to an all renewables grid in 2050. Plummeting solar, wind, and battery costs have changed what is possible. Millions of good jobs will be created. This is the Green New Deal.
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, David Wallace-Wells, Crown, 2019.
A nightmarishly vivid account of our future. It does not try to persuade you as much as get under your skin and stay there. It is a book of profound witnessing and prophecy. And yet he does not despair. The solutions are very, very big, but they are doable.
Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Bloomsbury, 2010.
A damning – and inspiring– demonstration of how the current climate deniers used to undermine truths that were inconvenient for corporate interests, including the science that showed smoking was bad for you. The authors have delved deep into some dark corners and found the deniers' sinister influence everywhere.
Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, George Marshall, Bloomsbury, 2014.
A gripping book that concerns a lot more than messaging. Marshall applies current theories about how the brain works to the question of climate change, then moves out to consider the unfortunate timing of its discovery. Climate change cannot be "fixed" the way the hole in the ozone layer was. It is open-ended. We must avoid labeling climate change as solely an environmental problem, a question of smoke stacks versus polar bears.
Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter, May 24, 2015.
This will probably turn out to be the most influential climate document of all. Religion is the center beam, everything else is poetry and revolution, expressing "both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor." My favorite line: "Our goal is … to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it."
Eaarth: Marking a Life on a Tough New Planet, Bill McKibben, Times Books, 2010.
McKibben was a writer before he turned into a very influential pioneering activist, so it is not surprising that this book is so persuasive about what is happening now and what we are already doomed to in the future. He makes you feel the loss of our old "sweet" earth intensely and argues for a general retrenchment – smarter, smaller agriculture and more localized energy production.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, Naomi Klein, Simon & Schuster, 2014.
Klein's powerful argument connects climate change with social justice. Fighting for the future of the planet will not just be costly or require sacrifices. Today's grow-or-die form of capitalism is in inherent opposition to it. She cites many eye-opening examples, including international trade agreements and the fossil fuel industry's business model, which is dependent on constant additions to exploitable reserves. But she sees this as an opportunity. Progress will happen only with a redistribution of power.