Category Archives: Environment

Spotlight on Sir David Attenborough 

Sir David Attenborough – with his distinctive voice and his enthusiasm for the wonders of our natural world – is probably the best-known environmentalist in the world. As writer, presenter and narrator, he has been educating and entertaining audiences about natural history for almost 70 years. He has created a tremendous body of work that represents a comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on Earth, as well as showing generation after generation of viewers the marvellous diversity in our environment and our living things. Now 96 years old, Sir David is still an active advocate for environment protection, highlighting how issues such as climate change and population growth can impact biodiversity. If you want to learn more about Sir David’s life and career, here are some good starting points:

Wild Life

Wild Life: The Extraordinary Adventures of Sir David Attenborough by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe

Journey through the jungle and coral reefs, across the African plains and icy poles, and even to the Galapagos Islands, in this beautiful picture book about the life and work of Sir David Attenborough. We discover that David has been a nature-lover since a young age, collecting fossils, stones and natural specimens to create his own “museum”. His eighth birthday gift – a fire salamander – sparks his imagination and ultimately leads to David Attenborough travelling and filming across the continents, visiting astonishing places and mysterious animals, and showing them to audiences all over the world.

Living Planet

Living Planet: The Web of Life on Earth by David Attenborough

This is a new and updated edition of The Living Planet, originally published in 1984, which looks at how plants and animals have evolved and adapted to the differing geographies and climates found around the world. The chapters march majestically across the planetary surface, showing how adaptation has created enormous diversity: from the poles to the tundra, to forests and jungles, the grasslands, the deserts. From fresh water to salt water, deep oceans to mountains and volcanoes. With the help of zoologist Matthew Cobb, this updated edition describes our latest understanding about biodiversity and evolutionary biology, including a significantly revised chapter on human evolution. The Living Planet is packed with information and stunning photography, and like all of Sir David’s work, manages to both inform, entertain as well as inspire.

A Life on Our Planet

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future by David Attenborough

In recent years, Sir David has shifted his attention from showing us the wonders of the natural world, to highlighting the environmental threats that stands to destroy our biodiversity. A Life on Our Planet is Sir David’s “witness statement” for the “the dreadful damage” done by humanity, and his plea for urgent climate action. Using his lifetime as a framing device, Sir David captures the accelerating destruction of our planet – changes not obvious from day to day, but shown in stark clarity over nine decades. He then warns us of the painful consequences of inaction – ice-free summers in the Arctic by the 2030s, climate-induced difficulties in food production and large scale, unmanageable human migration by late this century. Nonetheless, his call for action ends on a hopeful note, with ideas on how to turn things around by reducing energy and resource consumption and adopting a more sustainable diet.

Adventures of a Young Naturalist

Adventures of a Young Naturalist: Sir David Attenborough’s Zoo Quest Expeditions by David Attenborough

One of the first television programs presented by Sir David was Zoo Quest, which followed him and his (very small) team on expedition to British Guiana (Guyana), Indonesia and Paraguay in the 1950s. These expeditions aimed to collect exotic live animals – that no other zoo possessed – and bring them back for display at the London Zoo. Adventures of a Young Naturalist takes an affectionate, funny look at these intrepid trips, where Sir David and his team encounter idiosyncratic characters, exotic animals including capybaras, komodo dragons and vampire bats, and pristine environments. We also see early glimpses of the passion, respect and confidence around animals that will become Sir David’s onscreen trademark. Adventures of a Young Naturalist also encourages us to reflect on how, through the work of Sir David and other conservationists, our attitudes towards wildlife conservation have changed.

Journeys to the Other Side of the World

Journeys to the Other Side of the World: Further Adventures Of A Young Naturalist by David Attenborough

This companion volume to Adventures of a Young Naturalist is a collection of stories from the later part of the Zoo Quest program, where the young David Attenborough and his team travelled to Madagascar, New Guinea and other Pacific Islands, and to Australia’s Northern Territory. These expeditions became lessons in anthropology as well as zoology, with the team learning about and recording the indigenous culture of these remote places, whose ways of life had never been encountered by most of the British public before. From Aboriginal rock art, to the land divers of Pentecost Island, to encounters with paradise birds and chameleons, these stories are a valuable record of rituals and wildlife never previously filmed, and that have become endangered.

Life on Air

Life on Air (Revised and Updated Edition) by David Attenborough

It makes perfect (and witty) sense that Sir David, who made his name with the Life on Earth series, would call his memoirs Life on Air. This latest version is updated to include the most recent activities in his 60+ year career. The story starts in 1950, when a young David, dissatisfied with his job in a publishing house, applied for a job at the BBC. He was not successful; however, he was eventually asked to join BBC’s television department, kickstarting his long association with wildlife programming. Sir David spent considerable time as station management before his love of natural history led him to return to programme-making (just imagine – if he had become the Head of the BBC, his monumental Life on Earth series might never have been made!). Like his TV persona, Sir David writes with unfailing modesty and a warm sense of humour, none of which obscure the groundbreaking work he has done, both as a broadcaster and as station management.

Climate Change: Understanding our Changing Weather 

It is hard to ignore the increasing numbers of unusual or unseasonal severe weather events – think floods, wildfires, droughts, snowstorms – appearing all around the world. Our “climate normal” seems to be changing – but to what? Here’s a new crop of books – by scientists, journalists and even literary writers – to help us make sense of our changing weather, and what we need to do about it.

Fire, Storm and Flood: The violence of climate change

Fire, Storm and Flood: The Violence of Climate Change by James Dyke

Fire, Storm and Flood is a book of stunning photojournalism. Violent climatic events have ravaged the Earth since time began, spanning the vast eons of our planet’s existence. These events have left their mark on both the Earth’s geological and biological records. However, in the few centuries since industrialisation, human activity has increasingly become the driver of climatic events. We are becoming a geological force, impacting the earth with a series of fires, storms and floods. The images in Fire, Storm and Flood, showing the results of large-scale fires, earthquakes, floods and desertification, have a spectacular yet haunting beauty that challenge us to reflect on the devastation caused by climate change. 

Why Does Climate Change?

Why Does Climate Change? Investigate the Causes with Erica and Sven by Laura Ertimo & Mari Ahokoivu

The climate is changing, and so should we! Why Does Climate Change? helps to answer children’s tough questions about climate change, as well as help them understand what can be done to fight it. Best friends Erica and Sven are tired of their parents’ vague answers about the weird weather happening all over the planet, so they decide to research what climate change is really about. Why Does Climate Change? uses the graphic novel format to offer accurate information in an engaging way (complete with gremlins and fairies). It is an ultimately hopeful book that explains how humans are responsible for climate change and what we can do to ensure a brighter future for generations to come. For young readers aged 6-10.

A Brief History of the Earth's Climate

A Brief History of the Earth’s Climate: Everyone’s Guide to the Science of Climate Change by Steven Earle

A Brief History of the Earth’s Climate is the book to read before you debate with anyone sceptical of human-induced climate change. It first discusses the natural changes to the Earth’s climate over 4.6 billion years: including the effects of ocean currents, solar activity, volcanic eruptions; then shows how and why human-caused global warming and climate change is different. This up-to-date book even includes an overview of how the COVID pandemic may impact climate change. Steven Earle then reviews common arguments skeptical of climate change, countering them with logic and compelling scientific evidence. Written by a highly respected geologist and academic, A Brief History of the Earth’s Climate is a highly informative, yet accessible primer to this big topic.

1,001 Voices on Climate Change

1,001 Voices on Climate Change: Everyday Stories of Flood, Fire, Drought, and Displacement from Around the World by Devi Lockwood

These first-hand accounts are the human face of climate change, showing us how people and communities around the world are currently being affected. Over five years, journalist Devi Lockwood travelled through 20 countries across six continents, listening to people’s first-hand experiences of climate change – from Indigenous elders in Tuvalu on disappearing coastlines, to Australians mourning the death of their friends in the bushfires, to the Thai man who had to leave his ancestral farm because changes in rainfall made it no longer viable. Despite diverse localised experiences, themes of displacement, climate migration and food insecurity emerge. These recognisable and relatable stories make a sometimes-abstract topic vivid and urgent.

Firmament: The Hidden Science of Weather, Climate Change and the Air That Surrounds Us

Firmament: The Hidden Science of Weather, Climate Change and the Air That Surrounds Us by Simon Clark

Physicist and science communicator Simon Clark has been popularising atmospheric science through his successful YouTube channel. His first book, Firmament, takes it one step further – showing us the history of how the science was discovered, as well as the physics of how it works. Simon Clark weaves an entertaining and exciting story of discovery, featuring adventurous scientists and often danger (such as an almost fatal hot air balloon flight in Victorian times). Learning about the atmosphere helps us to understand how weather occurs and how scientists monitor and predict weather – which in turn, helps us to comprehend climate change and mitigate its effects.

We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast

We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer is best known for literary fiction, but his expressiveness also works to create powerful nonfiction. We are the Weather is his collection of short essays about the climate crisis. With his distinctive wit, insight and humanity, Foer argues that, rather than being an insurmountable problem, there is one small change that each individual can make, that collectively can achieve a sustained and far-reaching impact on the climate crisis: eating fewer animal products. We are the Weather is not your typical big-topic nonfiction book: amongst the facts and statistics, Foer interweaves musings on family, suicide, effort, sense and individual responsibility, as well as a delicious serving of metaphor. For anyone interested in a different approach to making sense of this topic.

Climate Change: What can be done at home? Six Books that show us how we can help

Sometimes the idea of making small changes at home to help the environment can feel so small and insignificant that we begin to wonder if they really are helping. Good news. We have found six amazing books that show that your small changes really do make a big difference. What’s even better, is that they each outline a number of new and inventive ways we can change our behaviour for lasting impact.

Net Zero: How We Stop Causing Climate Change by Dieter Helm

What can we really do about the climate emergency? The inconvenient truth is that we are causing the climate crisis with our carbon intensive lifestyles and that fixing, or even just slowing, it will affect all of us. But it can be done. In Net Zero the economist Professor Dieter Helm addresses the action we would all need to take, whether personal, local, national or global, if we really wanted to stop causing climate change. Net Zero is Professor Dieter Helm’s measured, balanced view of how we stop causing climate change by adopting a net zero strategy of reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon absorption. It is a rational look at why the past 30 years efforts has failed and why and how the next 30 years can succeed. It is a vital book for anyone who hears the clamour of Extinction Rebellion and other ecological activists, but wonders what they can actually do.

How to Garden the Low-carbon Way: The steps you can take to help combat climate change by Sally Nex

Keen on starting your own garden but unsure about your environmental impact? This guide will give you practical advice on which soil to use, plants that are best for absorbing carbon dioxide, low-carbon fertilisers, and cutting out single-use plastic. What’s more, this garden book is completely backed by scientific research! Explore the benefits of no-dig gardening, how to use fewer plants, using hedges instead of fences and how to grow shrubs that support wildlife.

This is a fantastic gardening book with a simple, step-by-step guide to either learn about gardening or to reference as your garden grows. You’ll quickly become acquainted with the benefits of growing a garden that positively contributes to the environment. Plus, you’ll have all the fun rewards a gardening hobby has to offer.

Things You Can Do: How to Fight Climate Change and Reduce Waste by
Eduardo Garcia

Award-winning climate journalist Eduardo Garcia offers a deeply researched and user-friendly guide to the things we can do every day to fight climate change. Based on his popular New York Times column “One Thing You Can Do,” this fully illustrated book proposes simple solutions for an overwhelming problem. No lectures here, just accessible and inspiring ideas to slash emissions and waste in our daily lives. In each chapter, Garcia digs into the issue, explaining how everyday choices lead to carbon emissions, then delivers a wealth of things you can do to make a positive impact. Things You Can Do is the book for people who want to know and do more to save the planet.

Kiss the Ground: How the Food You Eat Can Reverse Climate Change, Heal Your Body & Ultimately Save Our World by Josh Tickell

Kiss the Ground explains an incredible truth: by changing our diets to a soil-nourishing, regenerative agriculture diet, we can reverse global warming, harvest healthy, abundant food, and eliminate the poisonous substances that are harming our children, pets, bodies, and ultimately our planet. This richly visual look at the impact of an under-appreciated but essential resource, the very ground that feeds us, features fascinating and accessible interviews with celebrity chefs, ranchers, farmers, and top scientists. Kiss the Ground teaches you how to become an agent in humanity’s single most important and time-sensitive mission: reverse climate change and effectively save the world-all through the choices you make in how and what to eat.

Sustainable Home: Practical projects, tips and advice for maintaining a more eco-friendly household by Christine Liu

Sustainable Home is an oldie but a goodie. It is an inspirational and practical guidebook to maintaining a more environmentally friendly household. Sustainability enthusiast and zero-waste advocate Christine Liu takes you on a tour through the rooms of your home – the living area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom – offering tips, tricks and 17 step-by-step projects designed to help you lead a more low-impact lifestyle. Whether it is by making your own toothpowder, growing your own herb garden or up-cycling old pieces of furniture, there are numerous ways – both big and small – to make a difference.

Remodelista – The Low-Impact Home: A Sourcebook for Stylish, Eco-Conscious
Living
by Margot Guralnick and Fan Winston

Low-impact living is about making thoughtful, eco-friendly choices in your home. But being sustainable doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. That’s where Remodelista comes in. In this comprehensive guide, they decode the secrets to creating a home that’s good for the planet – and totally liveable. First, the team invites readers on in-depth tours of the living quarters of a dozen homeowners who have interpreted this ethos in myriad ways: an Australian architect’s state-of-the-art family home, a rental apartment in Brooklyn outfitted with materials salvaged from the neighbourhood, and even a farmhouse in England made of hemp. Then they take us room by room to dissect the most impactful swaps we can make for a healthier home, from a gentler laundry routine courtesy of the Celsious sisters to chef David Tanis’s low-tech approach to cooking. There are simple DIY projects to encourage you to reuse and repurpose rather than buy new, plus the ‘Vintage 75’ – a roundup of everyday household goods that are easy to find used, and are typically better made and more affordable than their brand-new counterparts. And, of course, there’s remodelling advice for all budgets and scopes: whether you’re looking to choose healthy paint, swap out your rug, upgrade your windows, or overhaul your whole place. It all adds up to an eco-conscious approach that’s about living not only responsibly but also with joy and style. This book is so new, it’s not even out yet. Fear not, you can click through the hyperlinks to pre-order it. 

Enjoy!

Ted Talk: What to do when climate change feels unstoppable

We have a big, unprecedented climate problem to solve and the eco-anxiety to go with it. However challenging the stories that keep us feeling powerless can help us take the first step to protecting the planet for generations to come. Click through to the link below to watch this inspiring ted talk.

Climate Change Crusaders, the voices challenging the way we treat our world 

Climate Change is not a new issue, nor is it going to fix itself without our education, action and attention. There are a number of individuals and groups that have been trying to get society’s attention to take action for years. Some have made an impact quickly and have roused us to protest, change our behaviour and expect more from each other. Today we’re sharing six books tackling this topic in very different ways, one shows how their family has been impacted, another teaches us how to discuss this important topic and others outline how the world will look should we choose to ignore it.

How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference by Rebecca Huntley

Why is it so hard to talk about climate change? While scientists double down on the shocking figures, we still find ourselves unable to discuss climate change meaningfully among friends and neighbours or even to grapple with it ourselves. The key to progress on climate change is in the psychology of human attitudes and our ability to change. Whether you’re already alarmed and engaged with the issue, concerned but disengaged, a passive skeptic or an active denier, understanding our emotional reactions to climate change – why it makes us anxious, fearful, angry or detached – is critical to coping on an individual level and convincing each other to act. This book is about understanding why people who aren’t like you feel the way they do and learning to talk to them effectively. What we need are thousands – millions – of everyday conversations about the climate to enlarge the ranks of the concerned, engage the disengaged and persuade the cautious of the need for action.

Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change by Nathaniel Rich 

By 1979, we knew all that we know now about the science of climate change; what was happening, why it was happening, and how to stop it. Over the next ten years, we also had the very real opportunity to stop it. Obviously, we failed. Nathaniel Rich’s groundbreaking account of that failure and how tantalisingly close we came to signing binding treaties that would have saved us all before the fossil fuels industry and politicians committed to anti-scientific denialism, is already a journalistic blockbuster, a full issue of the New York Times Magazine that has earned favourable comparisons to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and John Hersey’s Hiroshima. In the book Losing Earth, Rich provides more of the context for what did, and didn’t, happen in the 1980s and, more important, is able to carry the story fully into the present day and wrestle with what those past failures mean for us today. It is not just an agonising revelation of historical missed opportunities, but a clear-eyed and eloquent assessment of how we got to now, and what we can and must do before it is truly too late.

Hot Air: The Inside Story of the Battle Against Climate Change Denial by Peter Stott 

Hot Air is the shocking inside story of the fight to halt climate change over the past twenty-five years by a world-renowned scientist, Peter Stott. Ours is the age of global warming. Rising sea levels, extreme weather, forest fires. Dire warnings are everywhere, so why has it taken so long for the crisis to be recognised? Here, for the first time, climate scientist Peter Stott reveals the bitter fight to get international recognition for what, among scientists, has been known for decades: human activity causes climate change. Hot Air is the urgent story of how the science was developed, how it has been repeatedly sabotaged and why humanity hasn’t a second to spare in the fight to halt climate change.

Climate: Powerful Voices, Inspiring Ideas by Christina Limpert

With climate change at the forefront of current discussion, Words of change in Climate offers a curated collection of thought-provoking quotes and passages from the writings and speeches of activists in the environmental community, with a focus on diverse and previously unheard voices.

Compiled by social scientist and researcher Christina Limpert, this collection of stirring words is intended to enlighten, to prompt change, to provide encouragement, and to deepen readers’ conviction. Celebrating activism, focusing on solutions, and avoiding apathy and pessimism, this book is call to action. The back matter includes a brief bio for each person quoted to provide context for their life and work.

Stand Up! Speak Up! A Story Inspired by the Climate Change Revolution by Andrew Joyner

From a #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator, and the creator of The Pink Hat, comes a timely picture book about a young girl’s mission to inspire others to help the planet. Celebrate young climate change activists in this charming story about an empowered girl who shows up, listens up, and ultimately, speaks up to inspire her community to take action against climate change. After attending a climate march, a young activist is motivated to make an effort and do her part to help the planet… by organising volunteers to work to make green changes in their community, from cleaning a lake, to planting trees, to making composting bins, to hosting a clothing swap and more! Here is an uplifting picture book that is an important reminder that no change is too small, and no person is too young, to make a difference. With simple text and lively illustrations, Andrew Joyner has given young children a timely story about activism, community, and hope.

In a few weeks we will be sharing more books on how to talk to children about climate change so be sure to check back again for more titles.

Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Ernman, Svante Thunberg

The profoundly moving story of how love, courage and determination brought Greta Thunberg’s family back from the brink. This is the story of a happy family whose life suddenly fell apart, never to be the same again. Of two devoted parents plunged into a waking nightmare as their eleven-year-old daughter Greta stopped speaking and eating, and her younger sister struggled to cope. They desperately searched for answers, and began to see how their children’s suffering reached far beyond medical diagnoses. This crisis was not theirs alone: they were burned-out people on a burned-out planet. And so they decided to act. Our House is on Fire shows how, amid forces that tried to silence them, one family found ways to strengthen, heal, and gain courage from the love they had for each other and for the living world. It is a parable of hope and determination in an emergency that affects us all.

You can read other titles by Greta Thunberg here.

Next week on the blog we’ll be sharing six books offering suggestions as to what changes we can do at home to aid the future of the planet. 

Enjoy!