Climate Crisis Reading List

We’re a month into the new year and new decade (and it’s a palindate1), so it’s time to see how things are going. Are we learning, are we making progress and are we sticking to our resolutions?

A good green resolution is to learn more about the climate crisis. This is the top action to take if you are under-informed.

I’m fairly well-informed but I’ve still been learning more by doing a lot of reading. I avoid social media for news and avoid the press too (at least for the truth). As Nelson Mandela said:

…newspapers are only a poor shadow of reality; their information is important to a freedom fighter not because it reveals the truth, but because it discloses the biases and perceptions of both those who produce the paper and those who read it.

I tend to read scientific papers and reports from official bodies but also books. It’s hard to tell what is reputable but a good rule of thumb is if it includes lots of references / citations and numbers to back up the content.

There Is No Planet B

There Is No Planet B by Mike Berners-Lee is a very interesting read and is full of surprising facts. For example, in the UK more people die of traffic exhaust air pollution than traffic accidents and electric vehicles cause lower emissions in use even if powered by coal generation.

It goes on to show that solar power produced synthetic fuels are far better than bio-fuels and that electrifying everything will result in a significantly lower total energy demand. These conclusions are backed up with calculations and efficiency figures (some even provided by fossil fuel companies).

It follows on from his earlier work that I’ve also read and is full of references so that you can verify the claims for yourself. Highly recommended.

The Uninhabitable Earth

The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells is quite depressing so I’ve been taking it slowly and haven’t got too far in. It’s too early to say if it is worth reading yet.

It appears quite well-researched. However, the end notes are not referenced inline with the text, which makes it hard to see when one is available in the bibliography.

It is clearly an American book and units are frequently mixed, making it hard to follow. Most temperatures are specified in fahrenheit, which most of the world can’t relate to, yet figures from official reports are still given in the more familiar celsius. Metres and feet are both used in the same section, and the confusing ‘barrels of oil’ even crops up.

Long Walk to Freedom

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela is a hefty autobiography and is full of good advice. I haven’t got all the way through this long book yet but it’s very interesting.

The 11th of February 2020 (next Tuesday) marks 30 years since his release from prison. A lot has happened in that time but successful climate action worryingly hasn’t.

The Future

Next on my reading list is Falter by Bill McKibben. After that is The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, which is out at the end of the month.


  1. I just made this term up. What I mean is that today’s date is a palindrome (in all date formats, even the stupid US one). This was most significant at 05:53:41 and 06:30:18 GMT (let me know if you work this out) and it’s strobogrammatic too.

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