Climate change refs (2) – Books

My parallel list of online climate references is here.

1. Fiction with a environmentalist and/or ethical slant and a sense of humour. An enjoyable way of exploring serious ideas.

Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson *****
The President of the USA doesn’t want to know about global warming but an odd coalition of American scientists and Tibetan diplomats is about to do something about that. It is the first book of a trilogy but can stand alone.
The other two books are very good as well but don’t really make sense without their partners. In Fifty Degrees Below and Sixty Days and Counting we get disastrous climate changes, a presidential election which puts an activist in the White House, and the beginnings of wholesale changes to the way the USA operates; also a bunch of sub-plots which any other author would spin off into a whole new book. More:

The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson (2007) ***
Science fiction about ecological collapse and much more. Review here.

River of Gods by Ian McDonald (2005) *****
More science fiction: water wars in a fragmented India in 2047 are just one strand of this brilliant, challenging novel. Review here.

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett ***
Gods really do exist on Discworld, but only so long as people believe in them. Their power is proportional to the number of worshippers they have, which makes for some fairly desperate deific competition.

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett ****
Golems are made to serve. Does that mean they should have no rights?

If you’re hooked on Discworld after these two, read Thief of Time (*****) or Reaper Man (****) next; if you’re not, you probably never will be. If you just want a tiny sample of Pratchett’s work, visit

2. The serious stuff

Al Gore: Our Choice – how we can solve the climate crisis
There are two versions of this important book – a big one for adults and a simplified version for younger readers, which I review here.

Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolfe: Climate change: picturing the science (Norton, 2009) reviewed right here on Green Path.

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M Conway: Merchants of Doubt (Bloomsbury, 2010) reviewed here.

Anna Rose: Madlands (MUP, 2012) reviewed by me here, and there’s a good review in The Age, here, too.

Gareth Morgan and John McCrystal: Poles Apart (2009)
The debate about climate change has become politicised – inevitably so, because if the theory is correct we have to either make big changes to our economies or deal with potentially catastrophic environmental changes within the next few decades – but we risk making the wrong call if the politics obscures the science. Morgan and McCrystal set out to separate the facts from the rhetoric, and do a pretty good job. My review is here.

Three books on environmental themes (2007):
Michael Norton: 365 Ways to Change the World ****
Angela Crocombe: A Lighter Footprint **
Robin Williams: Future Perfect ***
The books are quite different, being respectively a manual for activism, a manual for individual action, and a caustic but entertaining look at some of the policies that have led towards our looming predicament, but they are all worthwhile and all reviewed here.

[no author]: Composting (2009)
Michael Braungart and William McDonough: Cradle to Cradle (2009)
A ‘how to’ guide for householders and a look at rethinking industrial design to make complete recycling possible, both reviewed here.

David King and Gabrielle Walker: The Hot Topic: How to Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights On (2008)
Reviewed very positively by Mary-Lou Considine for ECOS, journal of Australia’s CSIRO. Download a pdf of her review here.

Want more? Try RealClimate’s bookshelf.

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