By Ted Auch
Now that we as a nation have weathered another silly season's worth of campaign ads, lawn signs and less than insightful debates between the country's two—and in the case of Vermont's gubernatorial election, seven—parties; it is time to get down to the job of governing this fine country and finding potential legislation that everyone can agree upon.
However, this will come with numerous attempts to abrogate U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions via the Congressional Review Act, investigations and defunding lead by likely chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee James M. “The Greatest Hoax" Inhofe (R-OK). Enter stage right the Keystone XL pipeline and statements like these from the GOP leadership and former Obama officials:
“We can act on the Keystone pipeline," said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
“When you say energy these days, people think of the Keystone pipeline ... I mean, the employment figures connected with Keystone are stunning if we would just get going. [And I will] try to do whatever I can to get the EPA reined in," said Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“If Republicans attach Keystone to a budget bill, I don't think he's so principally opposed to it that he would veto it," stated Former Obama State Department Bureau of Energy Resources lead David Goldwyn.
As anyone reading this knows by now, the Keystone XL is a highly controversial—but just one of many—proposal to create a N-NW to S-SW pipeline connector to the existing Keystone across Montana, South Dakota, the SW corner of North Dakota and Nebraska. The proposal would connect with the existing Keystone 55-60 miles southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska. This proposal is contentious for many reasons, one of which is the fact that it would cut across Nebraska's Sand Hills, Kansas' Flint Hills, and the region's Great and Glaciated Plains natural area sand sit just above the shallow 174,000 square miles of the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water to 1.9 million people and irrigation to 27 percent of the arable land in the U.S.
Bipartisan Points of Interest
As soon as it was obvious at around 10:30 p.m. EST that there would be a sea change in DC with the GOP ousting floundering DNC incumbents or challengers, both sides turned to potential points of compromise with topics like immigration, tweaking Obamacare at the margins, etc. receiving quite a bit of air time. Top among these is revisiting the Keystone XL expansion as the ultimate olive branch the administration could offer to its friends across the aisle. It is worth noting that as our politicians continue to debate the science of climate change and do all they can to ramp up our already disproportionate reliance on fossil fuels across the pond, the political consensus in countries like Denmark and Germany is nearly unanimous that their energy portfolios should exceed 50 percent by 2020.
Both parties have their boutique or “go-to" studies supporting their point of view as it relates to Keystone XL job multiplier, oil production and environmental cost-benefit analyses but very few, if any, have analyzed the past, current and potential footprint of the Athabasca and Peace River Oil Sands as it relates to above- and below-ground ecosystem service loss resulting from land-use/land-cover (LULC) change. Even the province of Alberta presents an ESRI online map of current and proposed oil sands projects. Alberta oil sands has increased by 1,455 percent from its early annual averages of 50 Million Barrels (MBs) to its current annual average of 725+ (Figure 1).
Just like similar fossil fuel and related industries' activities (i.e. frack sand mining and freshwater withdrawals), oil sands production has reached an exponential inflection point which shows no signs of slowing and likely is accelerating with calls for “energy independence," OPEC “foreign radicals," and the seemingly insatiable appetite for energy in developed countries as well as the growing affluence of countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China (aka Goldman Sachs' BRICs). The increasingly conservative and fossil fuel-infatuated Canadian government lead by Stephen Harper has already put all its eggs in the oils sands' basket as a primary overseas export engine of GDP growth. Harper & Co. are not waiting for DC to get its Keystone house in order with their Saint John, New Brunswick Energy East pipeline proposal which we have documented here and here. But make no mistake. Decisions made in the coming months and years in DC will dramatically influence the rate of oil sand expansion in Alberta. And with the winds pointing in the direction of Keystone approval, it is imperative that we understand how much oil sands LULC change has degraded ecosystem services and how it may change in the future under a variety of scenarios.
Current and Potential State of Ecosystem Service Loss in Alberta Oil Sands
The ecosystems that have been most effected by the recent oil sands expansion are coniferous forests and myriad shrublands to the tune of 370+ square kilometers followed by 39 square kilometers of deciduous forest and the shrinkage of freshwater area by 83 square kilometers. Additionally, recent oil sand expansion has displaced 16 square kilometers of grassland and mixed forest coverage. Mined area constituted 16.4 percent of the area under consideration historically vs. 61.1 percent of the land area under the most recent expansion. The point here is that the more recent expansion has left very little native vegetation, while prior efforts were more diffuse and smaller with more extensive tracts of native ecosystems left intact. Putting a finer point on this, we see that exposed area broadly defined constitutes 61.4 percent of oil sands' recent expansion and 24.2 percent of the older efforts. Tailing ponds constituted 7.9 percent of the old oil sands footprint and <00.05 percent of the most recent expansion.
The total area exploited to date for oil sands is somewhere between 750 and 779 square kilometers with roughly 38 percent of the original 35,846 acres of freshwater remaining. Additionally, there is only 26 percent of the native vegetation left within what we will call the “actual footprint" (i.e. the northern, southern, eastern and westernmost points of activity), which extends to 2.46 times the aforementioned 750-778 square kilometers range at approximately 4,786 square kilometers. Native vegetation is spread across 1,000+ polygons averaging 48.4 acres and totaling 199 square kilometers.
Put another way, the total potential Athabasca footprint spread across 53 unique polygons totals 71,878 square kilometers—meaning the percent that has been physically exploited to date accounts for 1.1 percent of the available area and the “actual footprint" comes in at around 6.7 percent of the potential. Translation: the calculations we present here for ecosystem loss are just the tip of the iceberg if Canadian and Chinese officials, as well as, our congress get their way with respect to the Keystone XL expansion.
In order to get to the following estimates, we assumed the average Alberta native sub-arctic ecosystem produces 8,510-13,680 kilograms per hectare (kgs per ha) (3.8-6.1 tons per acre) of aboveground biomass, 4,810-7,020 kgs per ha (2.2-3.1 tons per acre) of soil carbon, and 1,870-2,800 kgs per ha (0.8-1.2 tons per acre) of root biomass each year and each hectare was home to 251,810-261,250 kgs (112-116 tons per acre) of soil carbon (Kurz et al., 2013).
Current and Past Oil Sands Exploitation
Below we present ecosystem loss in terms of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), Per Capita Equivalents and in terms of U.S. dollars, assuming $5 and $75 per ton of CO2:
- Old and Recent Expansion
- 45.07 million tons (MT) of CO2 (8.9 Teragrams (Tg) CO2)
- 2.5 million per capita emissions equivalents (MPCEE), which is nearly the population of Chicago or Toronto
- A price of $204.18 million to $3.38 billion
- Assuming the average northern Alberta ecosystem burns every 20-21 years clearing all aboveground biomass, the above translates into:
- 918.79 MT of CO2 (181.7 Teragrams (Tg) CO2 or 13.3 percent of annual U.S. emissions from burning fossil fuels)
- 51.2 MPCEE
- $4.16-68.91 billion (The same multiplier could potentially be applied to the calculations below)
- Assuming the average northern Alberta ecosystem burns every 20-21 years clearing all aboveground biomass, the above translates into:
- Actual Footprint
- 357.8 MT of CO2
- 19.9 MPCEE, which is equal to the combined population of Mexico City, New York and Los Angeles
- A price of $1.62 to $28.84 billion
Ten year Alberta oil sands scenario across three rates of productivity increases:
- Total Athabasca and Piece River Exploited:
- 6.93 billion tons (BT) of CO2 (1,369.4 Teragrams (Tg) CO2 or 100 percent of annual U.S. emissions from burning fossil fuels)
- 385.8 MPCEE or the combined population of the U.S., Canada and Saudi Arabia
- A price of $31.37 to $519.34 billion, which is equal to the GDP of North Dakota and Norway, respectively
- Production increases at a rate of 5.8 percent (i.e. 2nd quartile rate of change):
- 71.37 MT of CO2
- 4.0 MPCEE or the entire population of Los Angeles
- A price of $323.29 million to $5.35 billion
- Production increases at a rate of 23.9 percent (i.e. 3rd quartile rate of change):
- 159.93 MT of CO2
- 8.5 MPCEE (i.e. Mexico City)
- A price of $692.79 million to $11.47 billion.
- Production increases at a rate of 76.9 percent (i.e. 4th quartile rate of change):
- 391.76 MT of CO2
- 21.8 MPCEE
- A price of $1.77 to $29.38 billion with the latter ironically being equal to the GDP of North Dakota.
Future Steps and Potential Ramifications
The Total Athabasca and Piece River exploitation scenario outlined above amounts to 4.3 percent of global CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. And if we assume the aforementioned 20-21 year fire interval, this would amount to 87.8 percent of global annual emissions—an extremely disturbing number given that we have already surpassed 350.org and Jim Hansen's proposed atmospheric concentration tipping points at a rate of 1.02 percent per year with exploitation of the Alberta oil sands likely to amplify this rate of change in parallel with the above results.
Finally, this is not just a story about CO2, but also two other primary GHGs: CH4 and N2O. If we assume a reasonably constant ratio of CO2 to these GHGs —which is admittedly a gross oversimplification given the large amounts of CH4 and N2O currently being emitted from melting permafrost soils—these rates of CO2 emissions will be accompanied by 481.8 TG worth of annual CH4 and N2O emissions or a fire interval value of 9,821.6 Tg which would add an additional 7.2 years worth of U.S. fossil fuels emissions equivalents to the atmosphere.
So before we decide to give carte blanche to the big players in the Athabasca and the folks at TransCanada, it will be important to discuss frankly and empirically what an atmosphere enriched with the above would mean for our way of life in the long-term rather than simply focusing on short-term royalty and ephemeral job multiplier numbers presented by industry and the politicians they have long been supporting financially.
The way U.S. and Canadian politicians and industry have been promoting the Keystone XL and Athabasca Oil Sands is equivalent to you or I assuming that we are balancing our checkbook if we keep scrupulous records of deposits, but only occasionally if ever, address withdrawals. That is no way to balance our personal finances or this planet's environmental finances (in my humble opinion). The long-term externality costs associated with the Keystone XL expansion are largely environmental in nature and will be socialized, while the short-term financial windfall profits will be privatized. It is going to be important to incorporate the costs described above into our planetary checkbook analogy.
 Keep in mind the vegetation in this region is cleared by fire every 20-21 years meaning this 1,369.4 Tg is actually more like 27,914.1 Tg if we assume a constant rate of biomass accrual. The latter figure is nearly equal to 20.5 years of U.S. CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
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By Ted Auch
The New York Times' Diane Cardwell and Clifford Krauss recently published a piece on the interaction between the Greater Sage Grouse (GSG, Centrocercus urophasianus) and fracking in Big Sky country. We thought it might be helpful to dig a little deeper into the issue given the sensitivity of this species' as well as the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) to habitat disturbance and the inevitable conflict between “energy independence" and the Endangered Species Act—the purpose of which “is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend."
Gunnison Sage Grouse
We looked at the GSG's range relative to hydrocarbon wells in Colorado and Wyoming keeping in mind the bird's range encompasses 11 states and “more than 165 million resource-rich acres." This analysis encompasses much of the bird's range accounting for 52 percent (134,149 square miles) of the aforementioned acreage (Figures 1 and 2) and 37 and 373 GSG habitat parcels in Wyoming and Colorado, respectively.
The largest shaded areas on the map are the bird's “Current Distribution" (67,879 square miles) in Wyoming and “Historic Habitat" in Colorado (24,505 square miles). GSG's range in Colorado is far more spread out than in Wyoming with discrete north- and southwest concentrations. Important Birding Areas (IBAs) as defined by the Audubon Society often overlap with oil and gas extraction sites as well as endangered species habitat. Thanks to the Audubon Society's Connie Sanchez and Tom Auer we were able to determine how many hydrocarbon production wells exist within these states' IBA parcels. Wyoming is home to 39 IBAs, while Colorado contains 53 of these designated parcels. The average Wyoming IBA is 257 square miles, however, while Colorado's average 59 mi2. In total these two states are home to 13,154 mi2worth of IBAs. These figures account for 3.7 percent of U.S. IBAs and 2.2 percent of IBA acreage.
1. Wyoming: 51 unconventional hydrocarbon wells in IBAs, 2,238 in primary GSG habitat, and for some perspective 1,983 of the latter are in what EIA has designated primary shale plays. At the present time 97 percent of Wyoming's production wells lie within some segment of the GSG's habitat.
2. Colorado: 163 unconventional hydrocarbon wells in IBAs
- Southwest: 7,838 wells in primary GSG habitat
- Northwest: 16,609 wells in primary GSG habitat
- EIA Shale Plays: 24,178 wells
- 53 percent of Colorado's production wells lie within some segment of the state's GSG habitat.
In Colorado, the GSG's historical habitat has already been overrun by hydrocarbon wells with 20,809 across the bird's north- and southwest range. The bird's production/brooding area in the northwest contains 1,142 wells while its winter range contains 662 wells.
Figure 2. Wyoming hydrocarbon production laterals and Greater Sage Grouse Habitat.
Table 2. Colorado hydrocarbon production wells in various sectors of the Greater Sage Grouse's range.
Another way to look at the interaction between hydrocarbon production and GSG in the Great Plains and Pacific Northwest is to investigate the density of wells in the bird's historic range. That is precisely what we did for the 16 states where GSG once roamed. The bird's historic range is 2.21 times the size of its current range, while the acreage we analyzed is slightly more than the often-reported “165 million resource-rich acres" (Cardwell and Krauss, 2014). On average each of the 16 states was home to 35,580 square miles of GSG habitat and are now home to a mere 28 percent of that figure.
While GSG habitat in these states has decreased, hydrocarbon production has skyrocketed. There are currently 153,358 hydrocarbon wells across the 16 states and an average of 12,780 wells per state—excluding the four states devoid of wells in GSG habitat. These wells and associated infrastructure occupy approximately 39,649 square miles which is a disturbing 7 percent of the species' historic range and nearly 15 percent of its current range. From an historic GSG range perspective, Kansas has the highest density of wells with 3.5 per square mile of habitat. Unsurprisingly North Dakota, has the highest density of wells in the bird's current range, with 6.1 wells per square mile of habitat. Colorado was second in both departments with 1.1 and 2.9 wells per square mile of historic and current GSG habitat, respectively.
The Lesser Prairie-Chicken (LPC)—along with GSG—is hardly what anyone would call charismatic mega-fauna but it's habitat is coming under pressure in the name of drill baby drill “energy independence" across many of the same Great Plains states. The Prairie-Chicken's range once spread across 97,977 square miles in five states with 43 percent of that acreage in Kansas alone. The bird's range has declined by 68 percent and as much as 78-79 percent in Colorado and New Mexico. In terms of US hydrocarbon production the Prairie-Chicken's historic range is home to 58,152 wells, while its current extent contains 22,049 wells.
On average the four states we investigated sans Texas contain 14,538 and 5,512 wells in this bird's historic and current range, respectively, with the largest values for both not surprisingly in the state that contains most of the bird's primary grassland habitat Kansas's southwest corner. Across these states the density of wells in Prairie-Chicken habitat is 0.603-0.682 hydrocarbon wells per square mile with as many as 1.06-1.25 wells per square mile of Prairie-Chicken habitat in New Mexico. These wells and related infrastructure have an approximate footprint of 22,378 square miles, which is 23 percent the LPC's historic range and 72 percent of its current range.
The five states that contain LPC habitat are also home to 2,978 square miles worth of IBAs across ten parcels averaging 596 square miles, with Kansas home to the most IBA acreage (1,793,845 acres) and New Mexico the most parcels (4 parcels). These values equate to 0.40 percent of US IBAs and 0.99 percent of IBA acreage.
What this analysis means for the GSG and LPC is hard to discern. It stands to reason, however, that their already sensitive mating behavior and plummeting/disconnected populations have not seen the last of energy independence's encroachment. In contrast to the well-noted battle in the Pacific Northwest between environmentalists, loggers, developers and cattle grazers over the much smaller range of the Spotted Owl—and the US Fish and Wildlife Service's “"God Committee"—the GSG's range includes much of the U.S.'s primary wind and mineral resource acreage. GSG's habitat requirements overlap with US shale resources in a significant way with 29 percent of its range in shale basins and 11 percent in currently active shale plays. For a more detailed legal perspective on this issue the reader is referred to our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity and their long-term commitment to protecting and increasing suitable GSG habitat.
Meanwhile the historic and current range of the LPC is like the Spotted Owl in that it is quite small amounting to 97,978 and 31,237 square miles, respectively, which is approximately 11-17 percent of the GSG's range. Similar to GSG we found that 31 percent of LPC's historic range lies within shale basins while only percentage of its habitat is within currently active shale gas plays.
Table 3. Historic and Current Range of Greater Sage Grouse along with the number of producing hydrocarbon wells in that range by state.
Table 4. Historic and Current Range of Lesser Prairie-Chicken along with the number of producing hydrocarbon wells in that range by state (Note: Texas well location data is not available at the present time).
Table 5. Square mileage and number of Important Birding Areas (IBAs) in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken's historic range.
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Reading books about the environment can be a great way to not only stay informed about issues facing the natural world, but also to become inspired to take action in your community and make a positive contribution to the planet.
In this article, we'll introduce you to some of the best books about climate change and other eco-issues, including pollution, the use of fossil fuels, and environmental policy. We'll also give you a few recommendations for children's books about climate change, ocean plastics, plants and more.
6 Best Books About the Environment for Adults
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best New Release: All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson
- Best Book About Climate Change: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells
- Best Book About Activism: No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
- Best Book About Pollution: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
- Best Book About Social Impacts: Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush
- Best Book About Food: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
Best New Release: All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson
"All We Can Save" is a thought-provoking compilation of essays, poetry and art from dozens of women working to solve climate change in the U.S., from scientists and lawyers to farmers and teachers. The collection's editors, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson, focus on representation within the book, making sure to include voices from all walks of life in the conversation.
Reader Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars with about 500 Amazon ratings
Why It's a Must-Read: This Los Angeles Times bestseller book will leave you feeling hopeful and armed with ideas for how to tackle climate change independently, whether it's supporting climate journalists, marching in the streets or simply talking about the issue with your loved ones and neighbors.
Best Book About Climate Change: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells
To get up to speed on global warming and the ensuing ecological crisis, we recommend checking out David Wallace-Wells's "The Uninhabitable Earth." The book presents both the latest research on a variety of climate-related topics and an informed look into how the crisis may play out to affect global politics and capitalism, incite food shortages and climate wars, and change the trajectory of humanity.
Reader Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 2,500 Amazon ratings
Why It's a Must-Read: It's not exactly light reading, but this New York Times No. 1 bestseller is well-researched (and well-cited), presenting thought-provoking information about the future of our planet in an accessible way.
Best Book About Activism: No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
If you're looking for something to get you inspired, check out Greta Thunberg's "No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference." The book is a collection of speeches that Thunberg, a teen activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, has given about the climate crisis to leaders at the United Nations and on Capitol Hill, as well as to fellow youth activists at climate marches and Fridays For Future gatherings across the globe.
Reader Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 800 Amazon ratings
Why It's a Must-Read: Thunberg's unflinching voice and profound calls for action will leave you brimming with a mix of frustration and hope for the next generation of climate leaders — plus a healthy urge to pen strongly worded letters to your elected officials.
Best Book About Pollution: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson is widely accepted as a key figure in the history of environmentalism, as her 1964 book "Silent Spring" sparked revolutionary policy changes that protected natural resources from air to land to water.
The book alerted the public to how widely used chemicals and pesticides including DDT negatively affected not only human health, but also posed grave threats to natural spaces. As such, it inspired a new generation of activists and continues to be "required reading" for environmentalists today.
Reader Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with over 2,500 Amazon ratingsWhy It's a Must-Read: While it follows the journey of chemicals circulating through ecosystems and provides historical context for environmental issues we're still facing today, "Silent Spring" is written with exceptional prose that holds up decades after its initial publication.
Best Book About Social Impacts: Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush
In "Rising," journalist Elizabeth Rush explores how climate change is taking a toll on wildlife and how people in low-lying coastal areas are already being forced to flee to higher ground or risk their lives weathering intensifying storms and sea-level rise.
Rush weaves together insightful interviews with climate scientists and compelling stories from coastal communities across the U.S. The result is a haunting look at one of the initial social impacts of climate change that's sure to worsen with time.
Reader Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 200 Amazon ratings
Why It's a Must-Read: "Rising" interlays science and personal narratives to create an impactful illustration of how sea-level rise is threatening our coastlines and what's in store as the environmental crisis continues.
Best Book About Food: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" explores how our diets affect the world around us, delving into the U.S. agricultural industry and the politics around what we eat. It's an eye-opening look at food that touches on policy, economics, and the revolution of our relationship with the natural world.
Reader Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with over 3,100 Amazon ratings
Why It's a Must-Read: "The Omnivore's Dilemma" will make you consider not only how what you eat affects your body, but also the bigger impacts of the American diet and how you may be able to live more sustainably by changing your food choices.
5 Best Children's Books About The Environment
It's never too early to teach your children about environmental stewardship and the importance of protecting the natural world. These five fiction books touch on critical environmental topics in informational yet entertaining ways that kids can relate to:
- Best Children's Book About the Environment: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
- Best Children's Book About Climate Change: The Lonely Polar Bear by Khoa Le
- Best Children's Book About Ocean Plastics: Rocket Says Clean Up! by Nathan Bryon
- Best Children's Book About Ecology: The Magic and Mystery of Trees by Jen Green
- Best Children's Book About Activism: Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Best Children's Book About the Environment: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
A classic work of Dr. Seuss, "The Lorax" is an excellent introduction to the dangers of environmental degradation and the importance of speaking up when it counts. In the story, unique and beautiful Truffula Trees are clear-cut until all that's left of the species is a single seed. The last remaining Truffula seed is entrusted to a child who can go on to save the forest, proving that even young kids can make a positive impact on the environment.
Reading Ages: 3 to 7 years old
Reader Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars with over 7,700 Amazon ratings
Why It's a Must-Read: Told in Dr. Seuss's signature rhymes and imaginative illustrations, the story of the Lorax is one that still rings true 50 years after it was originally printed.
Best Children's Book About Climate Change: The Lonely Polar Bear by Khoa Le
Climate change can be tough for kids to wrap their heads around, but "The Lonely Polar Bear" serves as a subtle introduction to the topic. In the book, a polar bear wakes up after an Arctic storm to find himself all alone, his mother and brother nowhere to be found. He soon makes friends with a little girl and wanders across the Arctic to find his family, meeting other animals that are dependent on the shrinking polar environment including elk, wolves, whales and puffins.
Reading Ages: 6 to 12 years old
Reader Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with over 100 Amazon ratings
Why It's a Must-Read: Along with teaching about climate change and the melting Arctic, "The Last Polar Bear" explores the biodiversity of polar wildlife and the importance of friendship.
Best Children's Book About Ocean Plastics: Rocket Says Clean Up! by Nathan Bryon
"Rocket Says Clean Up!" tells the story of Rocket, a science-loving kid who is visiting her grandparents at the beach. Rocket's plans to surf all vacation are thwarted when she finds a baby sea turtle tangled in plastic and decides to do something about all of the trash polluting the coast. Through educating fellow beachgoers and organizing a cleanup, Rocket clears the beaches and allows the little turtle to safely return to its home.
Reading Ages: 3 to 7 years old
Reader Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars with over 600 Amazon ratings
Why It's a Must-Read: This inclusive children's book shows young kids that our beaches are in trouble but that we can still turn the tide on ocean plastics. It also includes a section on sustainability and how readers can take action and clean up their own communities.
Best Children's Book About Ecology: The Magic and Mystery of Trees by Jen Green
In a way that's easy for kids to understand, Jen Green's "The Magic and Mystery of Trees" explains the intricacies of these organisms, from their web of roots that tangles underground to how they communicate with one another. The book even has sections that address the threats against trees and how we can help them thrive, bringing kids into the conversation around conservation.
Reading Age: 3 to 9 years old
Reader Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars with over 1,700 Amazon ratings
Why It's a Must-Read: "The Magic and Mystery of Trees" eases kids into the subject of ecology and will leave your children filled with wonder at the natural world.
Best Children's Book About Activism: Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
In "Hoot," a teen and his friends attempt to stop the construction of a new restaurant that would destroy an endangered burrowing owl habitat. A Newbery Honor winner and No. 1 New York Times bestseller, "Hoot" is a classic environmental book that proves anyone can make a difference by standing up for a cause they believe in.
Reading Age: 9 to 12 years old
Reader Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 2,500 Amazon ratings
Why It's a Must-Read: Although it's written with young teens in mind, Carl Hiaasen's representation of Florida's wild spaces and its colorful inhabitants — both human and animal — will give parents just as much enjoyment out of reading this book.