Best books on climate change and extinction

There are a lot of good books on climate change. Hundreds of good ones, at least.

Below are my favorite books on climate and extinction.

Desert Paintbrush in Arches National Park.  This article is about the best books on climate change and extinction
Desert Paintbrush in Arches National Park

Peter Brannen, The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and our quest to understand earth’s past mass extinctions.

Brannen’s book is my favorite book on global warming, it was published in 2019. This book is mostly about the six mass extinctions the earth has gone through. (How many extinctions occurred depends on what you count as an extinction.) The interesting thing about all of these extinctions is they were all caused by excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and a consequent massive warming of the earth’s atmosphere. One of the reasons I like this book so much is that Brannen gives us a lot more information than most warming books. As I read his book I felt like I was learning new and really interesting things on almost every page. And I’ve read a lot of books on climate warming over the years. In spite of the vast amount of information included in the book, it remains a wonderful read: interesting and always a page turner.

Indian paintbrush in Glacier National Park
Indian paintbrush in Glacier National Park

Bill McKibben, Falter: Has the human game begun to play itself out.

McKibben wonders in this book if humans will survive this last extinction that we now seem to be in the middle of. He is the grandfather of global warming books and spent his life writing about and protesting against climate change. He wrote the very first climate book intended for a popular audience, The End of Nature, in 1988. In the middle of his career he wrote Eaarth: Making a life on a tough new planet. (That isn’t a misspelling of earth; he said that earth was now so different, it needed a new name.) Falter, published in 2019 is his latest book.) All of his books are excellent.

Here is one of McKibben best articles in The New Yorker.

The Arkansas River in Colorado.  This article is about the best books on climate change and extinction
The Arkansas River in Colorado

David Wallace-Wells. The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after warming.

Wallace-Wells’ book is a real eye opener. Life after warming is going to be very, very nasty. In fact the earth is going to be pretty much uninhabitable for the majority of humans. And he describes exactly what will happen and what has already happening in very depressing detail. This is an excellent book as far as the facts and the detail presented . However, I found the style a little lacking. I thought the book was a bit on the dry, hard to read side. Maybe this is just me though; I often get criticized as being too picky about style. Read the book; it is an important one. This book is a new one, published in 2019.

Pines and Peaks in Glacier National Park at twilight
Pines and Peaks in Glacier National Park at twilight

Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.

Kolbert’s book was published in 2014. Her book like Brannen’s is a history of the past extinctions on our earth and it presents a lot of evidence that we are indeed in the early years of what may well turn out to be the sixth extinction. I like Brannen’s book a little better as it is a bit more up to date than Kolbert’s and because it is so full of absolutely fascinating information. Nevertheless, Kolber’s book is still a gem and there is much to be learned from this book. It is definitely one of the best books on warming and extinction. Kolbert is, like McKibben, a veteran global warming author. She has been writing about climate change in The New Yorker since the 1980’s.

Here is one of Kolbert’s best articles in The New Yorker.

Teton National Park in Wyoming..This article is about the best books on climate change and extinction.
Teton National Park in Wyoming

Fred Pearce, With Speed and Violence: Why scientists fear tipping points in Climate Change.

Pearce’s book is an older book. It was published in 2007. Nevertheless, I think this book is still quite valuable. It is a bit out of date, true, but Pearce concentrates on tipping points, an idea which is definitely not of date. Tipping points are those points, which once passed, are extremely difficult to reverse. Two of the tipping points he spends a lot of time discussing are the melting of the arctic and antarctic ice and the thawing of the permafrost. Both of these catastrophes would be difficult for human civilization to survive. In addition, his book is a joy to read. He is one of my favorite writers.

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

J. R. MacKinnon, The Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945

MacKinnon’s basic message is that the huge acceleration of world industrial and economic growth and its accompanying global warming is not something that has been going on for a long time; it is in fact, a very recent occurrence. Almost all of the world’s economic and industrial growth along with almost all of global warming has occurred since 1945.

It is not hard to find the best books on climate change. A search in Kindle Books will offer some of the best. Also a search for the best books on climate change in the New Yorker, or The New York Times or the Nation will come up with more great books that you will ever be able to read.

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