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18 Great New Books About Climate Change, Sustainability and Pioneering Women Environmentalists

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By John R. Platt

What do Rachel Carson, sea otters, toxic toads and the Gold King Mine disaster have in common? Easy: They're all among the subjects of this month's new environmentally themed books.

The full list—an amazing 18 titles—includes books for just about everyone, from dedicated environmentalists to foodies to nature-friendly kids. You can check them all out below (links are to publishers' or authors' websites). Then get ready for some long evenings of reading as the cool nights of winter give way to a hopefully not-so-silent spring.


Environmental History:

Silent Spring & Other Writings on the Environment by Rachel Carson

The book that sparked the modern environmental movement gets an archival collection from the Library of America, edited by acclaimed ecologist Sandra Steingraber.

Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall and Alice Waters Changed Our World by Andrea Barnet

How these four influential women helped shape the modern progressive movement and our understanding of nature and the environment.

This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent by Daegan Miller

A history of 19th century "radical thinkers, settlers, and artists who grounded their ideas of freedom, justice, and progress" (and who remain relevant today).

Cane Toad Wars by Rick Shine

The true tale of the ecological nightmare caused by the introduction of this toxic species to Australia.

Small Town, Big Oil: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the Richest Man in the World—and Won by David W. Moore

How Nancy Sandberg, Dudley Dudley and Phyllis Bennett stood up to Aristotle Onassis and his planned mega-scale oil refinery.

Wildlife and Endangered Species:

Return of the Sea Otter: The Story of the Animal That Evaded Extinction on the Pacific Coast by Todd McLeish

The true story of how otters almost disappeared and eventually came back to woo us all with their almost-unbearable cuteness.

The Monarchs are Missing: A Butterfly Mystery by Rebecca E. Hirsch

A book offering grade schoolers insight into why monarch butterflies are in trouble and what they can do to help.

Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife by Sarah Grace Tuttle

Poetic glimpses of life in the concrete places.

Far From Land: The Mysterious Lives of Seabirds by Michael Brooke

Tales of albatrosses, frigatebirds, cormorants and other seabirds from every corner of the planet.

Food and Sustainability:

Eat for the Planet: Saving the World One Bite at a Time by Nil Zacharias and Gene Stone

An indemnification of the industrialized food system.

Food Is the Solution: What to Eat to Save the World by Matthew Prescott

More than 80 plant-based recipes "for a greener planet and a healthier you."

Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future by Douglas Farr

How sustainable design of cities and buildings can help solve the humanitarian, population and climate crises.

Going Wild: Helping Nature Thrive in Cities by Michelle Mulder

A book to encourage kids to embrace rewilding our urban centers.

Climate Change:

The Tantrum That Saved the World by Megan Herbert and Michael E. Mann

A book to help kids (and their parents) learn how to turn their environmental frustration into positive action. Read our interview with the authors.

The City Where We Once Lived by Eric Barnes

A science-fiction novel about people trying to live in an abandoned city ravaged by climate change.

Tales From an Uncertain World: What Other Assorted Disasters Can Teach Us About Climate Change by L. S. Gardiner

Looking to past environmental crises and disruptions to better understand how individuals can deal with climate change.

Pollution and Environmental Disasters:

Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale by Matt Hern and Am Johal

A horror-filled road trip through the polluted tar sands of northern Alberta. Features art and additional material by journalist/cartoonist Joe Sacco.

River of Lost Souls: The Science, Politics, and Greed Behind the Gold King Mine Disaster by Jonathan P. Thompson

How 150 years of mining, energy development and fracking led to the infamous 2015 disaster, and how the people who live nearby are working to make amends for the past.

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Revelator.

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If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

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