Summer Reading Recommendations from the Reserve Staff

August 12, 2011

Hopefully your summer days are filled with lazing around in the warm afternoon sun with a good book. As you enjoy the sun’s heat on your beach towel or hammock or even airplane seat, you may find yourself pondering about the growing accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. Climate Action Reserve staff would like to recommend the following books with a connection to climate change solutions. We are as intent on fighting climate change as Harry Potter is about defeating Voldemort! Reparo climate!

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
A must read for any environmentalist, Diamond’s 2005 book Collapse artfully tells the story of how natural resource management decisions of societies (both past and present) influenced those societies’ ultimate successes and failures. Diamond’s attempt to apply lessons learned by these societies to problems facing our society today, like deforestation and climate change, helped propel me into a career in the environmental sector.
Teresa Lang, Policy Associate
The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey
I love the book for its vivid depictions of the hard beauty and expanse of the West and for the strong passion that its characters bring to protecting that beauty. Even while I disagree with the tactics employed by the protagonists, I cannot help but admire their motivation and the lengths that they are willing to go for a cause they believe in. I also appreciate how utterly American the characters are in their fierce independence and iconoclasm. And, it is a good story well told.
Gary Gero, President
Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet by Edward Hume
I may not entirely agree with all of the conclusions drawn in this book, but I found it to be a pretty interesting backstory on a number of major environmental players in the U.S. today. The sections on forest conservation in Maine and the Center for Biological Diversity were especially thought-provoking.

Max DuBuisson, Policy Manager
In Search of Nature by Edward O. Wilson
This book is a collection of essays ranging from the beauty and diversity of species to mankind’s apparent assault on the planet (with a mention of rising CO2 levels and the ultimate consequences). It is at the same time heart-wrenching and uplifting, while brilliantly written. Wilson’s contrasts of nature and human nature are eye-opening and provocative and he reminds the reader just how much we have to fight for.

Gillian Calof, Operations Director
Acme Climate Action by Provokateur
The best interactive activity book for adults: teach your family and friends about climate change and what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Includes appliance stickers, postcards, envelope address stickers, carbon footprint counter, environmental performance report cards, posters, climate change trivia cards, and a detachable booklet about climate change and simple solutions. All in one stylish, retro package. All pages can be removed, passed along, used and reused. Share the knowledge and have fun! http://www.acmeclimateaction.com/

Heather Raven, Policy Coordinator
The Sixth Extinction: Journeys Among the Lost and Left Behind by Terry Glavin, 2007
Glavin does a great job at capturing and laying out the value of biodiversity and our planet’s ecological history in descriptions of his travels and examples of uncommon species.  The bad news is that it’s all in the context of one of the largest extinction events in Earth’s history, the one happening right now.  This mass extinction of animals, plants, languages, and culture, Glavin argues, is unique in that the root causes are anthropogenic activities.  The reasoning is not always air-tight, but his research is sound and the statistics he cites are very convincing, if not shocking.  To give you an idea, we (as a planet) lose “a distinct species every minute, a unique vegetable variety every six hours, [and] an entire language every two weeks.”   If you have any interest in biodiversity and conservation, or even if you just like learning about cool stuff like the monster fish in the Amur River or that apples are members of the rose family, I recommend checking out this book.  The writing style is very anecdotal as well, which makes for a quick read.

Mark Havel, Program Assistant
Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne
David Byrne takes you on a journey of cities around the world from the point of view of a musician/artist/bicyclist traveling on a folding bicycle. He provides insights into urban planning as he’s experienced the streets and shares how cities could be smartly designed to accommodate and encourage the bi-pedal mode of transportation. Complete with colorful and unique stories of interactions with local culture, this book is an excellent celebration of bicycling. If we all chose to travel by bicycle, no matter the difficulties and potholes and traffic circles and sweaty pits, we would have a healthier climate and healthier communities.

Rhey Lee, Communications Associate
Uno’s Garden by Graeme Base
I honestly don’t read too many grown up books on environmental issues these days as I am mostly reading parenting books when I have the time or energy. But I do enjoy reading children’s books with my kids that celebrate the environment. A current favorite is Uno’s Garden. The book is about the multi-generational effects of not caring for the environment and the importance of being good stewards of the earth. The story reinforces appreciation of forests, plants and animals, while teaching kids about our impact on nature and opportunities to live more sustainably. The book also features games with number concepts.

Katie Bickel Goldman, Senior Policy Manager