A seemingly slight temperature change of five and a half degrees Fahrenheit may not feel significant to most of us but climate experts project should global emissions continue on their current path, this small rise in temperature will hold serious consequences for ecosystems and all living things that live within them — including human beings.
Though many of us are ready to put on our activism hats, it’s important to understand the factors, science, and nuance behind the movement and people affected.
One of the many struggles with communicating this issue is that climate change exacerbates naturally occurring events, like: floods, droughts, hurricanes, disease spread, and more.
One of the main culprits? Human activity — or more specifically, the greenhouse gas emissions we generate.
A great way to learn more (and at your own pace) is by reading. And lucky for us, there’s an increasingly growing group of writers who have taken on the challenge to tell stories about climate change.
From academic research conducted by scientists in the environmental field to personal narratives from individuals living in frontline communities, there’s a wealth of information available on climate change — many of which may even be available to you for free at your local library!
We’ve gathered some of the best, most thought-provoking books out there providing inspiration, knowledge, and practical advice on how to be good neighbors and stewards of this beautiful resilient planet.
This article is organized into:
- Fiction (or Cli-Fi — as some people call it)
- Children’s Books
P.S. We’ve linked Amazon for convenience and accessibility purposes, but we’re also linking to our favorite Amazon alternatives: Bookshop and Libro.fm, which are both great ways to support small, independent bookstores when you buy physical books and audiobooks.
(Learn more about Amazon alternatives for books and audiobooks)
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Best Books About Climate Change That Help You Learn More & Take Action
Nonfiction Books About Climate Change
“Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change” by George Marshall
From the founder of the Climate Outreach and Information Network, a striking take on the most urgent question of our time: Why, despite overwhelming scientific evidence, do we still ignore climate change?
The book explores the psychological and social factors that prevent us from taking action on climate change. It also examines the role of the media and political leaders in shaping public opinion and discusses strategies for overcoming these barriers.
Author George Marshall hopes to provide readers with a deeper understanding of the complex reasons why climate change is so often ignored while urging us to work on overcoming these obstacles to take meaningful action on this pressing global issue.
“The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to the Climate Crisis” by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
“The Future We Choose” by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac is a cautionary (but optimistic) book about the world’s changing climate and the fate of our world. It offers practical solutions to the global climate crisis, while providing insight into the authors’ firsthand experience of leading the Paris Agreement negotiations.
The authors share their optimism that humanity can rise to the challenge of climate change while emphasizing the importance of individual action.
“No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference” by Greta Thunberg
“No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference” is a collection of speeches by the young climate activist Greta Thunberg. The book covers her journey from starting a one-person school strike for the climate to addressing world leaders at the United Nations. The book emphasizes the urgency of immediate action on the climate crisis and the power of youth activism.
Covering topics ranging from the climate crisis to racism and economic inequality. Thunberg boldly calls out governments, corporations, and individuals for their inaction on the climate crisis, and for their failure to recognize the urgency of the situation. Her writing is both inspiring and challenging, and her message of hope and determination is a direct call to action for readers to start (or continue) making a difference.
“Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future” by Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, examines the global impact of climate change and argues that the fight against it is a matter of justice — as many living in poverty and developing countries are disproportionately affected.
Robinson provides a historical perspective on the issue and examines the political and social factors hindering progress in addressing climate change. She also shares a vision of collective resilience and hope that’s driving change, and the role civil society, global governments, and individuals play in achieving a sustainable future.
“Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World” by Katharine Hayhoe
Called “one of the nation’s most effective communicators on climate change” by The New York Times, Katharine Hayhoe knows how to navigate all sides of the conversation on our changing planet. She challenges readers to move beyond the politics and polarization that tend to divide us and encourages us to embrace the common values that unite us: justice and compassion.
Hayhoe’s book offers a compelling argument for why we must act now, and how we can do so with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. Through hard data, personal stories, and her own faith-based perspective, Hayhoe demonstrates that by understanding and engaging with each other, we can work together to create a sustainable future.
“The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming” by David Wallace-Wells
In “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,” author David Wallace-Wells explores the potential consequences of global warming and climate change. He delves into the science behind climate change, as well as its likely impacts on human society, including food and water shortages, extreme weather events, and rising sea levels.
The book also examines how climate change disproportionately affects marginalized communities. Ultimately, Wallace-Wells is urging people toward immediate and decisive action to address the climate crisis.
“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Tim Flannery
In “The Hidden Life of Trees,” acclaimed Australian scientist and author Tim Flannery explores the complex and fascinating world of trees and their vital role in the ecosystem. He examines how trees communicate and cooperate with one another, and how they are integral to the planet’s health — including their role in regulating the Earth’s climate.
Readers are also brought into the cultural and historical significance of trees and the importance of protecting and preserving them for future generations. Through his research, Flannery presents a new understanding of the natural world and how it functions, as well as encourages readers to appreciate the complexity and beauty of the trees around us.
“The Climate Book: The Facts and the Solutions” by Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg — one of the most well-known activists today — was only 15 years old when she protested outside the Swedish parliament in 2018. Her efforts to pressure political leaders to meet carbon emissions targets inspired other youth activists around the world to create similar protests in their communities.
In Greta Thunberg’s “The Climate Book: The Facts and The Solutions” she lays out an informative and accessible guide to understanding the climate crisis and the potential solutions. This book is an essential resource for anyone looking to understand and take action on the climate crisis.
“The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert
Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” explores the current mass extinction of species, as well as its causes — and potential solutions. Kolbert details the catastrophic effects of human activity on the environment and how this has contributed to species extinction.
Kolbert weaves together insights from various fields of study, along with accounts of lost species and the history of extinction, to create a comprehensive and impactful overview of the ongoing sixth extinction caused by human activity. Through her work, she challenges us to reexamine what it means to be human and highlights the lasting impact this extinction will have on the planet.
“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate” by Naomi Klien
Award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author, Naomi Klein posits the efforts needed to address the climate crisis can be seen as an opportunity for positive change rather than a crisis. She highlights the various initiatives that have taken hold, demonstrating how communities are rejecting the continuation of fossil fuel extraction and instead, creating new economies based on sustainable practices.
Klein also examines the climate justice movement — which connects economic and environmental justice — and challenges the idea that our current economic system is the only option forward. Klein’s work is a call to action for all of us to transform our economy and society to ultimately save our planet.
“All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis” edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson
“All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis,” edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson, is a collection of essays by powerhouse women leading the charge on climate action.
The essays focus on the intersection of climate change, justice, and culture, exploring the psychology of the climate crisis and the power of storytelling, art, and activism. Through a mix of personal stories, hard science, and practical guidance, the book provides an urgent call to action and offers hope for building resilient communities.
“How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need” by Bill Gates
Bill Gates provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of global efforts to combat climate change and the technological advancements needed to mitigate its impacts. He outlines specific solutions, including the transition to clean energy, the improvement of energy efficiency, and the development of new technologies, and provides a roadmap for individuals, businesses, and governments to take action and avoid a climate disaster.
Gates offers a clear and compelling call to action, encouraging readers to become part of the solution and join the global effort to reduce emissions and prevent a climate disaster.
“Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” by Paul Hawken
Paul Hawken — environmentalist, entrepreneur, author, and activist — has dedicated his life to environmental sustainability. “Drawdown” is his comprehensive plan to reverse the effects of global warming, which include 100 of the most substantive solutions to reverse global warming — based on meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world.
The book also provides an in-depth analysis of each solution’s economic and social benefits, as well as the challenges and obstacles that must be overcome to implement them. “Drawdown” is a valuable resource for concrete, actionable solutions to address global warming.
“A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis” by Vanessa Nakate
Vanessa Nakate, a young Black environmental activist, was catapulted into the world stage after she was cropped out of a group photo with five white climate activists — including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg — at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
After the Associated Press published the now infamous cropped photo, Nakate tweeted: “You didn’t just erase a photo, you erased a continent, but I am stronger than ever.” Her response created a larger, very important international conversation on erasure and diversity within the environmental movement and space. She shares her personal fight to bring an African perspective to the global climate crisis and calls for the inclusion of African voices in the fight against the climate crisis, emphasizing the need to recognize the unique challenges and experiences of African countries.
Losing Earth: A Recent History by Nathaniel Rich
Nathaniel Rich’s “Losing Earth: A Recent History” chronicles the decades-long efforts to address climate change, beginning in the late 1970s. The book paints a vivid picture of the people, events, and forces that shaped the climate crisis and the missed opportunities on the way to a solution.
He offers a hopeful blueprint for how humanity can still make a difference, emphasizing that there is still time to act and avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change.
“Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism” by Aja Barber
Aja Barber, a renowned writer, and stylist, examines the interconnectedness of colonialism, climate change, and consumerism and how we interact with them in the modern world. “Consumed” is a call to action for consumers everywhere to look at how and why we buy what we buy, how it’s created, who it benefits, and how we can solve the problems created by a wasteful system.
Barber also dissects the current climate crisis and its direct connection to capitalism — which was built on the exploitation of marginalized people and precious resources. Ultimately, Barber aims to teach readers how to become citizens, not consumers.
“Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet” by George Monbiot
We’ve plowed, fenced, and grazed beautifully vibrant areas of the planet, felling forests, killing wildlife, and poisoning rivers and oceans to feed ourselves. Yet, millions still go hungry.
“Regenesis” reimagines a future for food and humanity. Author George Monbiot draws on promising advances in soil ecology and reveals how our changing understanding of the environment could open doors for the agriculture industry to grow more food with less farming.
Fiction Books About Climate Change (Cli-Fi)
“The Ministry for the Future: A Novel” by Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson — renowned science fiction novelist — imagines a not-so-distant world ravaged by climate change. The book follows Mary Murphy, a climate policy advocate who becomes the head of a new UN agency, the Ministry for the Future, tasked with combating climate change and working towards a sustainable future for humanity.
Robinson uses a blend of fictional characters and real-world policies and technologies to show what a world battling climate change might look like and why it’s so crucial to act now. The book has been praised by people like former president Barack Obama for its powerful vision of a possible future.
“Dune” by Frank Herbert
Before “Dune” was made into a major motion picture, starring some of Hollywood’s biggest A-list celebrities, author Frank Herbert introduced the world to the devastating potential of climate change and resource scarcity in his 1965 sci-fi classic.
Set in the desolate, resource-drained planet of Arrakis this book has become a standard feature of the cli-fi genre and influenced countless books and movies since. Herbert — an environmentalist — spent over five years creating Dune’s complex ecosystem and complex storylines that blend adventure and mysticism, environmentalism, and politics.
“Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler
Set in the U.S. during the 2020s, “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler is a near-future dystopian novel set in a time of environmental and societal collapse. While the science fiction category historically features white male heroes, what we love about Butler is that she often chooses to write diverse characters for diverse audiences, and brings nuance and depth to her work.
In “Parable of the Sower,” we follow the life of Lauren Olamina as she navigates a world devastated by climate change, resource scarcity, and economic inequality. Lauren has “hyperempathy,” a condition that forces her to feel the physical and emotional pain of others. Through her journey, the novel explores themes of survival, community, power, and resilience in the face of climate change and societal collapse.
“Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver
New York Times Bestseller “Flight Behavior” by prize-winning author Barbara Kingsolver explores parallel stories about a colony of butterflies and a young woman who have both deviated from their flight paths. The story revolves around Dellarobia Turnbow, a 28-year-old who encounters the migration of the Monarch butterflies in rural Tennessee — which normally migrate from Canada to Mexico.
The novel focuses on the impact that climate change has on our planet and its inhabitants and emphasizes the need for cooperation and understanding.
“American War” by Omar El Akkad
“American War” is a dystopian novel by best-selling author Omar El Akkad that imagines a second American Civil War in the late 21st century. Set in a world where climate change has caused massive disruptions — including flooding and the displacement of millions — the story follows the life of Sarat Chestnut, a young girl from the South who becomes a key player in the war.
Through her experiences, the novel explores themes of identity, loyalty, and the consequences of violence. At its core, “American War” is a warning about the dangers of failing to address climate change and paints a vivid picture of a world where the effects of climate change are so severe that they lead to a catastrophic conflict.
“Blackfish City” by Sam J. Miller
Set in a post-apocalyptic world affected by climate change, “Blackfish City” by Sam J. Miller transports readers to the floating city of Qaanaaq, located in the Arctic. Built after the melting of the polar ice caps, we follow the lives of intersecting characters who navigate the political and environmental challenges of the city. The novel explores themes of power, class, and identity, as well as the impact of climate change on its fragile society.
“The Overstory” by Richard Powers
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel follows the interconnected lives of five trees and nine people across generations to show how both deforestation and disregard for the complexity of nature led to the existential crisis we now face.
Through the character of Patricia Westerford, a scientist studying trees and their communication networks, the novel highlights the crucial role that trees play in maintaining the health of the planet’s ecosystems. Touching on deforestation, habitat loss, and the impact that human activity has on the environment, “The Overstory” serves as a powerful critique of our current human-centered worldview and the environmental damage that happens as a result of that perspective.
“Odds Against Tomorrow: A Novel” by Nathaniel Rich
“Odds Against Tomorrow” by Nathaniel Rich follows the life of Mitchell Zukor, a young mathematician hired by a consulting firm that specializes in predicting worst-case scenarios. When a massive hurricane hits New York City, Zukor’s predictions stunningly prove accurate, and he finds himself in the midst of a city struggling to survive.
The novel highlights the consequences of climate change and the failure of society to prepare for the impact of extreme weather events. It also explores themes of corporate greed, political corruption, and the power dynamics of disaster response.
“Gold Fame Citrus” by Claire Vaye Watkins
Set in a near-future American West ravaged by drought and climate change, this story follows the lives of Luz Dunn and Ray Hollis, who live in a California desert community. When they come across a mysterious child, they embark on a dangerous journey through the desert in search of a better life. Author Claire Vaye Watkins explores themes of survival, identity, and the human impact on the environment — a reality not too far from our own today.
“The New Wilderness” by Diane Cook
“The New Wilderness” by Diane Cook follows the lives of a group of people who have been chosen to participate in a government experiment to live in a wilderness reserve. The reserve, called The Wilderness State, is the last remaining untouched ecosystem in the world, and the group is tasked with living there for several years in order to study its ecology and determine whether it is a viable solution for humanity’s future.
Cook raises questions about the role of humans in nature and the impact climate change has on our planet. The book offers a compelling vision of a world that is both fragile and resilient, and raises important questions about how we can create a sustainable future for ourselves and the planet.
“New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson
New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson explores a future New York City that has been drastically impacted by rising sea levels due to climate change. The story is set in a world where much of the city is underwater, but people continue to live in skyscrapers that function like islands.
The novel follows the lives of a diverse group of characters, including a hedge fund manager, a building superintendent, and a pair of orphaned children, as they navigate the challenges of life in this new reality.
Children’s Books About About the Environment
“The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss
Arguably one of the most recognizable climate-related children’s books, “The Lorax” written by Dr. Seuss tells the story of the Once-ler, a character who destroys a forest of Truffula trees to make “Thneeds,” a product that everyone wants. This classic children’s book highlights the importance of environmental conservation and the devastating consequences of greed and over-consumption.
Published in 1971, this timeless storybook serves as a powerful introduction to the complex issue of climate change and a hopeful call to action for people of any age to our part in protecting our planet.
Recommended for children three years old and up.
“The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge” by Joanna Cole
Who better to teach such a complex issue like climate change than the curious and fun-loving Ms. Frizzle of “The Magic School Bus” TV series? “The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge” by Joanna Cole follows Ms. Frizzle and her class as they venture on an action-packed journey to learn more about climate change, its causes, and its effects — and how we can help solve it.
Ms. Frizzle and her class travel through different ecosystems and observe the changes caused by climate change, like, melting ice caps, sea level rise, and extreme weather events. They also learn about the importance of reducing carbon emissions, conserving energy, and living sustainably.
Recommended for children four years old and up.
“Meltdown: Discover Earth’s Irreplaceable Glaciers and Learn What You Can Do to Save Them” by Anita Sanchez
“Meltdown” is a kids’ guide to the glorious (but endangered) world of glaciers. Glaciers may not be as well-known as rainforests or coral reefs, but they are just as vital to the health of the planet, and just as threatened by climate change. Packed with information, grounded in the latest science, “Meltdown” gives young readers an eye-opening overview of glaciers, why they are so important to combatting climate change, and a hopeful path to protect them.
Recommended for children eight years old and up.
“Climate Change, the Choice Is Ours: The Facts, Our Future, and Why There’s Hope!” David Miles, illustrated by Albert Pinilla
With fun illustrations, and easy-to-follow information from sources like NASA, NOAA, and the United Nations, “Climate Change: The Choice is Ours” is an interactive book (that has a built-in spinner!) that outlines the causes of climate change and gently explores its consequences like rising sea levels, increased extreme weather, and more.
Though the author is not shy about explaining uncomfortable realities, this book focuses on hope for the future and includes practical recommendations for what kids and their families can do to help.
Recommended for children seven years old and up.
“A Kids Book About Climate Change” by Zanagee Artis and Olivia Greenspan
Let’s be real: climate change is hard enough to digest as a grownup, much less a child. “A Kids Book About Climate Change” by Zanagee Artis and Olivia Greenspan uses the book as a tool to empower kids to become environmental activists. It includes simple calls to action while explaining the current state of our planet, how we got here, and hope for the future.
The book is a great resource for parents and educators looking to start a conversation about climate change with their children, and a valuable tool for helping raise the next generation of climate leaders.
Recommended for children five years old and up.
“What Is Climate Change? (What Was?)” by Gail Herman
Gail Herman provides an introduction to climate change in her children’s book, “What Is Climate Change? (What Was?)” and its impact on the planet. The book explains the science behind climate change, including the greenhouse effect, and the causes and effects of global warming.
While providing a critical foundation for children to learn more and become curious about climate change, this book also touches on actions we can take to help reduce our everyday impact on the environment.
Recommended for children eight years old and up.
“The Fog” by Kyo Maclear
Told from the perspective of Warbler — an itty bitty yellow bird — this children’s book explores the power of what can happen when collective action is taken to solve an issue. In Kyo Maclear’s picture book, Warbler, a self-proclaimed expert people-watcher, gets concerned when a mysterious fog interrupts his beloved hobby. Though he tries to get the other birds to help him get rid of it, they don’t care as much.
He finally finds a friend in a little girl who helps him rally creatures from all over the world to help fight back against the fog. The book explores themes of environmental conservation and the impact of human activities on the environment in an approachable way.
Recommended for children four years old and up.
“The Polar Bears’ Home: A Story About Global Warming” by Lara Bergen
If you’re in search of a book that can introduce preschoolers to climate change, this book is a great start. “The Polar Bears’ Home” takes readers on an adventure with a little girl and her dad while they learn more about the impact that climate change has on two polar bear cubs and their family.
It also encourages kids to make small, practical changes to their lifestyles (like using reusable bags and turning off lights when not using them) to help fight climate change. Even better, the book is printed on 100% post-consumer waste, FSC-certified recycled paper with soy-based ink.
Recommended for children ages four years old and up.
“Under the Weather: Stories About Climate Change” edited by Tony Bradman
If your kids are comfortable reading chapter books, this collection of short stories edited by Tony Bradman explores the impact climate change has on individuals and communities around the world. The book introduces stories from unique perspectives centered around the impacts that extreme weather events have on people’s lives.
Whether read from cover to cover or concentrating on one or two stories, parents, educators, and young readers are encouraged to consider their own role in addressing this pressing issue in a warm and light-hearted way.
Recommended for children 10 years old and up.
“A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids: Understanding Climate Change and What You Can Do About It” by Julie Hall
“A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids,” provides young students with information on the causes and impacts of climate change, and how people are working to reduce it. The book features clear and concise writing, fun illustrations, and activities, as well as “eco-hero” profiles and interesting facts. Teachers can even access additional resources to help their in-class lessons.
Recommended for children nine years and up.