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Libraries Working Towards Social Justice: Climate & Environment

One of the defining challenges of the twenty-first century is facing the changes to our climate. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, climate change poses significant risks due to increased flooding, erosion, and wildfires, lower yields of crops overall, and risks to the water supply, infrastructure, and economy as a whole. Furthermore, these effects are predicted to disproportionately affect vulnerable communities, including lower-income and marginalized populations. This reading list seeks to highlight resources on the condition of our climate, steps we can take to preserve our planet for future generations, and reducing your footprint! All the following resources are available at the Topsfield Town Library or through the MVLC.

We provide the call number for each item. Did you know that items are shelved together by subject? If you see an item that you’re interested in, it is always worth looking around the book for other items with similar subjects!

Climate Change and its impacts

Podcasts you may be interested in: Yale Climate Conversations, the Nature Podcast, Breaking Green Ceilings, and Living Planet.

Encyclical on climate change & inequality: on care for our common home by Pope Francis

Call number: 261.88 FRANCIS

In the “Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality, ” the beloved Pope exhorts the world to combat environmental degradation and its impact on the poor. In a stirring, clarion call that is not merely aimed at Catholic readers but rather at a wide, lay audience, the Pope cites the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change, and does not hesitate to detail how it is the result of a historic level of unequal distribution of wealth.

Fragile planet: the impact of climate change

Call Number: 363.738 FRAGILE

This unique book provides a striking look at the dramatic changes that are happening to our planet. Shows more than 200 dramatic images of sea level rising, glaciers melting, flooding and impacts from fires.

Fire and flood: a people’s history of climate change from 1979 to the Present by Eugene Linden

Call Number: 304.28 LINDEN

From a writer and climate-change expert who has been at the center of the fight for more than thirty years, a brilliant big-picture reckoning with the reasons for our shocking failure to this point, focusing on the malign power of key business interests, and arguing that those same interests could flip this story very quickly, if a looming economic catastrophe doesn’t happen first.

Angry weather: heat waves, floods, storms, and the new science of climate change by Friederike Otto with Benjamin von Brackel

Call number: 577.22 OTTO

Angry Weather tells the compelling, day-by-day story of Hurricane Harvey, which caused over a hundred deaths and $125 billion in damage in 2017. As the hurricane unfolds, Otto reveals how attribution science works in real time, and determines that Harvey’s terrifying floods were three times more likely to occur due to human-induced climate change.

The uninhabitable earth: life after warming by David Wallace-Wells

Call number: 304.28 WALLACE-WELLS

It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, “500-year” storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually. This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

Walden warming: climate change comes to Thoreau’s woods by Richard B. Primack

Call number: 577.27 PRIMACK

In his meticulous notes on the natural history of Concord, Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau records the first open flowers of highbush blueberry on May 11, 1853. If he were to look for the first blueberry flowers in Concord today, mid-May would be too late. In the 160 years since Thoreau’s writings, warming temperatures have pushed blueberry flowering three weeks earlier, and in 2012, following a winter and spring of record-breaking warmth, blueberries began flowering on April 1―six weeks earlier than in Thoreau’s time. The climate around Thoreau’s beloved Walden Pond is changing, with visible ecological consequences.

The treeline: the last forest and the future of life on earth by Ben Rawlence

Call number: 577.3 RAWLENCE

A powerful, poetic and deeply absorbing account of the “lung” at the top of the world. For the last fifty years, the trees of the boreal forest have been moving north. Ben Rawlence’s The Treeline takes us along this critical frontier of our warming planet from Norway to Siberia, Alaska to Greenland, to meet the scientists, residents and trees confronting huge geological changes.

Life on the rocks: building a future for coral reefs by Juli Berwald

Call number: 333.9553 BERWALD

Coral reefs are a microcosm of our planet: wondrously diverse, deeply interconnected, and critically imperiled. They sustain entire ecosystems and protect vulnerable coasts. But corals across the planet are in the middle of an unprecedented die-off, beset by warming oceans, pollution, human damage, and their own devastating pandemic.

How to avoid a climate disaster: the solutions we have and the breakthroughs we need by Bill Gates

Call number: 363.738 GATES

Bill Gates shares what he’s learned in more than a decade of studying climate change and investing in innovations to address the problems, and sets out a vision for how the world can build the tools it needs to get to zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing Waste and Your Carbon Footprint

Podcast you may be interested in: A Sustainable Life.

The (almost) Zero Waste Guide: 100+ tips for reducing your waste without changing your life by Melanie Mannarino

Call number: 640.28 MANNARINO

A practical guide on how to go “almost zero waste,” featuring 100 tips on how to reduce waste in your everyday life, at home, and in your community.

Zero Waste: simple life hacks to drastically reduce your trash by Shia Su

Call number: 640.28 SU

The average American disposes of 4.4 pounds of garbage per day. What if there were a simple– and fun– way for you to make a difference? A zero waste lifestyle is the answer, and Shia Su is living it. Every single piece of unrecyclable garbage Shia has produced in one year fits into a mason jar! Here, she demystifies and simplifies the zero waste lifestyle for the beginner, sharing practical advice, quick solutions, and tips and tricks that will make trash-free living fun and meaningful.

Rethink the bins: your guide to smart recycling and less household waste by Julia Goldstein

Call number: 363.728 GOLDSTEIN

Have you heard that recycling is broken? Let’s fix it. If you want to reduce the amount of waste you generate but aren’t sure where to begin, Rethink the Bins shows you how.

Can I recycle this? : a guide to better recycling and how to reduce single-use plastics by Jennie Romer

Call number: 363.7282 ROMER

This practical guide to recycling includes a look at how recycling actually works, how to better handle the waste we produce, the way rules differ in every municipality and which common household objects can or cannot be recycled.

The climate diet: 50 simple ways to trim your carbon footprint by Paul Greenberg

Call number: 613.2 GREENBERG

A celebrated writer on food and sustainability offers fifty straightforward, impactful rules for climate-friendly living.

Climate-wise landscaping: practical actions for a sustainable future by Sue Reed and Ginny Stibolt

Call number: 635.048 REED

Practical steps anyone can take to beautify any landscape or garden, while helping protect the planet and the species that call it home. Topics include: Working actively to shrink our carbon footprint through mindful landscaping and gardening; creating cleaner air and water; increasing physical comfort during hotter seasons; supporting birds, butterflies, pollinators, and other wildlife.

Living without plastic: more than 100 easy swaps for home, travel, dining, holidays, and beyond by Brigette Allen and Christine Wong

Call number: 640.28 ALLEN

Every year, the world produces more than 300 million tons of plastic. These products will never break down and will endlessly pollute our oceans, air, land, and food chain. But the good news is that there are many steps, small and large, we can take to change our plastic-using habits.

Simply living well: a guide to creating a natural, low-waste home by Julia Watkins

Call number: 640 WATKINS

Easy recipes, DIY projects, and other ideas for living a beautiful and low-waste life, from the expert behind @simply.living.well on Instagram.

Inconspicuous consumption: the environmental impact you don’t know you have by Tatiana Schlossberg

Call number: 363.7 SCHLOSSBERG

As we become a more digital society, the gains that have been made for the environment by moving toward a paperless world with more and more efficient devices will soon be or already have been offset by the number of devices in our lives that are always using energy. But many don’t think about the impact on the environment of the “Internet of things.” Whether it’s a microwave connected to the internet, use of Netflix, or online shopping, these technological advances have created new impacts that the people who are most well-versed in these issues haven’t considered. In INCONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION, Tatiana Schlossberg reveals the complicated, confounding and even infuriating ways that we all participate in a greenhouse gas-intensive economy and society.

Conservation

Wild things, wild places: adventurous tales of wildlife and conservation on planet Earth by Jane Alexander

Call number: 333.95 ALEXANDER

In Wild Things, Wild Places, Jane Alexander movingly, with a clear eye and a knowing, keen grasp of the issues and on what is being done in conservation and the worlds of science to help the planet’s most endangered species to stay alive and thrive, writes of her steady and fervent immersion into the worlds of wildlife conservation, of her coming to know the scientists throughout the world–to her, the prophets in the wilderness–who are steeped in this work, of her travels with them–and on her own–to the most remote and forbidding areas of the world as they try to save many species, including ourselves.

Beloved beasts: fighting for life in an age of extinction by Michelle Nijhuis

Call number: 591.68 NIJHUIS

A vibrant history of the modern conservation movement-told through the lives and ideas of the people who built it. In the late nineteenth century, as humans came to realize that our rapidly industrializing and globalizing societies were driving other animal species to extinction, a movement to protect and conserve them was born. In Beloved Beasts, acclaimed science journalist Michelle Nijhuis traces the movement’s history: from early battles to save charismatic species such as the American bison and bald eagle to today’s global effort to defend life on a larger scale.

A life in the wild: George Schaller’s struggle to save the last great beasts by Pamela S. Turner

Call number: YA 590.92 TURNER

Spotlights Schaller working, observing some of the world’s most endangered animals. Many of these species were previously considered impossible to study in the wild.

Resurrection science: conservation, de-extinction and the precarious future of wild things by M.R. O’Connor

Call number: 591.68 O’CONNOR

A tour of current advances in biology and ethics demonstrates how humans are increasingly in control of evolution, exploring how as the scientific community endeavors to save near-extinct species, the creatures being saved become less wild and more dependent.

Return of the sea otter: the story of the animal that evaded extinction on the Pacific Coast by Todd McLeish

Call number: 333.9597 MCLEISH

Presents a science journalist’s journey along the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska to track the status, health, habits, personality, and viability of sea otters–the appealing species unique to this coastline that was hunted to near extinction in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Rancher, farmer, fisherman: conservation heroes of the American heartland by Miriam Horn

Call number: 333.72 HORN

Traces the conservation movement by ranchers, farmers, river workers, and fishermen who in spite of separating themselves from political environmentalism are helping to restore and protect America’s grasslands, wildlife, wetlands, and oceans.

Rewilding the world: dispatches from the conservation revolution by Caroline Fraser

Call number: 333.9516 FRASER

If environmental destruction continues at its current rate, a third of all plants and animals could disappear by 2050-along with earth’s life-support ecosystems, which provide food, water, medicine, and natural defenses against climate change. Now Caroline Fraser offers the first definitive account of a visionary crusade to confront this crisis: rewilding. Breathtaking in scope and ambition, rewilding aims to save species by restoring habitats, reviving migration corridors, and brokering peace between people and predators. A “methodical, lyrical” (Sacramento News & Review) story of scientific discovery and grassroots action, Rewilding the World offers hope for a richer, wilder future.

Attracting native pollinators: protecting North America’s bees and butterflies by The Xerces Society

Call number: 631.52 ATTRACTING

With the recent decline of the European honey bee, it is more important than ever to encourage the activity of other native pollinators to keep your flowers beautiful and your grains and produce plentiful. In Attracting Native Pollinators, you’ll find ideas for building nesting structures and creating a welcoming habitat for an array of diverse pollinators that includes not only bees, but butterflies, moths, and more. Take action and protect North America’s food supply for the future, while at the same time enjoying a happily bustling landscape.

Nature’s best hope: a new approach to conservation that starts in your yard by Douglas W. Tallamy

Call number: 635.951 TALLAMY

Tallamy takes the next step and outlines his vision for a grassroots approach to conservation. Nature’s Best Hope shows how homeowners everywhere can turn their yards into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats. Because this approach relies on the initiatives of private individuals, it is immune from the whims of government policy.

Famous Environmentalists: Their Work and Biographies

Rachel Carson

Silent spring & other writings on the environment by Rachel Carson

Call number: 363.738 CARSON

The book that sparked the modern environmental movement, with an unprecedented collection of letters, speeches, and other writings that reveal the extraordinary courage and vision of its author. Silent Spring, together with rare letters, speeches, and other writings that reveal the personal courage and passionate commitment of Rachel Carson.

American Experience. Rachel Carson

Call number: DVD/921 CARSON

Often called the mother of the modern environmental movement, Rachel Carson rocked the world in 1962 with her book Silent Spring, which warned the American public of the impact of pesticides on the environment and unleashed an extraordinary national debate about science and safety. At the center of that firestorm stood Ms. Carson, a strong, intensely private woman who balanced her love of the natural world and passion for writing with personal strife.

The gentle subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent spring, and the rise of the environmental movement by Mark Hamilton Lytle

Call number: BIO CARSON

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring antagonized some of the most powerful interests in the nation–including the farm block and the agricultural chemical industry–and helped launch the modern environmental movement. In The Gentle Subversive, Mark Hamilton Lytle offers a compact biography of Carson, illuminating the road that led to this vastly influential book. Lytle explores the evolution of Carson’s ideas about nature, her love for the sea, her career as a biologist, and above all her emergence as a writer of extraordinary moral and ecological vision.

John Muir

Muir among the animals: the wildlife writings of John Muir

Call number: 590 MUIR

This selection from the works of the great nineteenth-century naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club gathers for the first time Muir’s evocative writings on the lives and habits of animals. These perceptive, often witty pieces have been unjustly overlooked in favor of his wilderness essays. This sampling makes a powerful plea for animal rights and preservation of wildlife as an important factor in human and planetary well-being.

Anywhere That Is Wild: John Muir’s First Walk to Yosemite by Peter and Donna Thomas

Call number: 508.4 MUIR

John Muir wrote many wonderful books about his travels, but one story—about his long walk from San Francisco to Yosemite—is one book he did not author himself. In April 1868, a very young John Muir stepped off a boat in San Francisco and inquired about the quickest way out of town. “But where do you want to go?” was the response, to which Muir replied, “Anywhere that is wild.” Using Muir’s personal correspondence and published articles, Peter and Donna Thomas have reconstructed the real story of Muir’s literal ramblings over California hills and through dales, with lofty Sierra Nevada peaks, Englishmen, and bears mixed in for good measure. The trip is illustrated by charming cut-paper illustrations that take their inspiration from Muir’s love of nature. John Muir’s story-telling is so compelling that even 150 years later, seeing the world through his eyes makes us want to head out into the wild.

Nature’s allies: Eight conservationists who changed our world by Larry A. Nielsen

Call number: 333.72 NIELSEN

In ‘Nature’s Allies’, Larry Nielsen profiles the lives of eight pioneers – John Muir, Ding Darling, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Chico Mendes, Billy Frank Jr., Wangari Maathai, and Gro Harlem Brundtland – all individuals from modest backgrounds who have influenced the course of conservation over the past century, showing us better ways to live in balance with nauture. Some famous and some little known, they all spoke out to protect wilderness, wildlife, fisheries, rainforests, and wetlands. They exposed polluting practices and fought for social justice. They wrote books, marched, testified before Congress, and performed acts of civil disobedience. One was martyred for standing up to the perpetrators of institutionalized environmental destruction. ‘Nature’s Allies’ pays tribute to these heroes as it seeks to rally a new generation of conservationists to follow in their footsteps.

Greta Thunberg

No one is too small to make a difference by Greta Thunberg

Call number: 179.1 THUNBERG

The groundbreaking speeches of Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist who has become the voice of a generation, including her historic address to the United Nations.

Our house is on fire: scenes of a family and a planet in crisis by Greta Thunberg, Svante Thunberg, Malena Ernman, and Beata Ernman

Call number: BIO THUNBERG

When climate activist Greta Thunberg was eleven, her parents, Malena and Svante, and her little sister, Beata, were facing a crisis in their own home. Greta had stopped eating and speaking, and her mother and father had reconfigured their lives to care for her. Desperate and searching for answers, her parents discovered what was at the heart of Greta’s distress: her imperiled future on a rapidly heating planet. Steered by Greta’s determination to understand the truth and generate change, they began to see the deep connections between their own suffering and the planet’s. Written by a remarkable family and told through the voice of an iconoclastic mother, Our House Is On Fire is the story of how they fought their problems at home by taking global action. And it is the story of how Greta decided to go on strike from school, igniting a worldwide rebellion.

Greta Thunberg: climate crisis activist by Matt Doeden

Call number: J BIO THUNBERG

Motivated by government apathy regarding climate change, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg held a demonstration that would ignite a global movement. Read more about Greta and the environmental movement that is changing the world.

Jane Goodall

Listen to the Jane Goodall podcast, titled Hopecast.

The book of hope: a survival guide for trying times Jane Goodall, Douglas Abrams with Gail Hudson

Call number: 158 GOODALL

Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams explore through intimate and thought-provoking dialogue one of the most sought after and least understood elements of human nature: hope. Drawing on decades of work that has helped expand our understanding of what it means to be human and what we all need to do to help build a better world, the book touches on vital questions, including: How do we stay hopeful when everything seems hopeless? How do we cultivate hope in our children? What is the relationship between hope and action? While discussing the experiences that shaped her discoveries and beliefs, Jane tells the story of how she became a messenger of hope, from living through World War II to her years in Gombe to realizing she had to leave the forest to travel the world in her role as an advocate for environmental justice. And for the first time, she shares her profound revelations about her next, and perhaps final, adventure.

Jane Goodall: 50 Years at Gombe

Call number: 599.885 GOODALL

Jane Goodall: 50 Years at Gombe is a compelling pictorial tribute to Dr. Goodall’s life, her studies of chimpanzee behavior, and her unflagging efforts to motivate people to make this world a better place. With a new format, a modern design, more than a dozen new pho­tographs, and updated text throughout, this revised edition retraces five decades of compassion and discovery.

Jane Goodall: primatologist and conservationist by Michael Capek

Call number: YA BIO GOODALL

Women scientists have made key contributions to the pursuit of science and some of the most important discoveries of all time. In Jane Goodall, learn how the British primatologist chose to pursue a career in science and discovered new chimpanzee behavior, changing the way we understand our closest animal relatives. Features include a timeline, a glossary, essential facts, references, websites, source notes, and an index. Aligned to Common Core Standards and correlated to state standards.

Indigenous Peoples and the Environment

As long as grass grows: the indigenous fight for environmental justice from colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker

Call Number: 363.7 GILIO-WHITAKER

Interrogating the concept of environmental justice in the U.S. as it relates to Indigenous peoples, this book argues that a different framework must apply compared to other marginalized communities, while it also attends to the colonial history and structure of the U.S. and ways Indigenous peoples continue to resist, and ways the mainstream environmental movement has been an impediment to effective organizing and allyship.

Braiding sweetgrass: indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Call Number: 305.597 KIMMERER

As a leading researcher in the field of biology, Robin Wall Kimmerer understands the delicate state of our world. But as an active member of the Potawatomi nation, she senses and relates to the world through a way of knowing far older than any science. In Braiding Sweetgrass, she intertwines these two modes of awareness–the analytic and the emotional, the scientific and the cultural–to ultimately reveal a path toward healing the rift that grows between people and nature. The woven essays that construct this book bring people back into conversation with all that is green and growing; a universe that never stopped speaking to us, even when we forgot how to listen.

Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes through Indigenous Science by Jessica Hernandez

Call Number: 304.2082 HERNANDEZ

An Indigenous environmental scientist breaks down why western conservationism isn’t working–and offers Indigenous models informed by case studies, personal stories, and family histories that center the voices of Latin American women and land protectors. Despite the undeniable fact that Indigenous communities are among the most affected by climate devastation, Indigenous science is nowhere to be found in mainstream environmental policy or discourse. And while holistic land, water, and forest management practices born from millennia of Indigenous knowledge systems have much to teach all of us, Indigenous science has long been ignored, otherized, or perceived as “soft”-the product of a systematic, centuries-long campaign of racism, colonialism, extractive capitalism, and delegitimization.

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The National Parks: America’s Best Idea is a six-episode series produced by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan and written by Dayton Duncan. Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature’s most spectacular locales – from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska. The National Parks: America’s Best Idea is nonetheless a story of people: people from every conceivable background – rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy.

Simplify, simplify, simplify!“: Celebrating the Transcendentalists

Transcendentalism, 19th-century movement of writers and philosophers in New England who were loosely bound together by adherence to an idealistic system of thought based on a belief in the essential unity of all creation, the innate goodness of humanity, and the supremacy of insight over logic and experience for the revelation of the deepest truths. Source: Britannica Library Resource Center

Walden and other writings of Henry David Thoreau by Henry David Thoreau

Call number: 818.3 THOREAU

Essays & lectures by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Call number: 814.3 EMERSON

Henry David Thoreau: a life by Laura Dassow Walls

Call number: BIO THOREAU

Other Resources

Note: The links below direct to resources outside of the MVLC and Topsfield Town Library.

Government Agencies

United States Environmental Protection Agency
US Governmental agency with information on a variety of crucial environmental topics.

NASA: Climate Change and Global Warming
NASA’s landing page on global climate change.

US Global Change Research Program
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is a federal program mandated by Congress to coordinate federal research and investments in understanding the forces shaping the global environment, both human and natural, and their impacts on society.

National Climate Task Force
National Climate Task Force — mobilizing every agency to prioritize acting on climate change throughout the entire federal government. From curbing emissions, strengthening resilience, protecting public health, advancing equity, conserving lands and waters, and spurring economic growth, combatting climate change is central to every mission across the United States government.

National Park Service
Since 1916, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of our national parks. With the help of volunteers and partners, we safeguard these special places and share their stories with more than 318 million visitors every year. But our work doesn’t stop there. We are proud that tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individual citizens ask for our help in revitalizing their communities, preserving local history, celebrating local heritage, and creating close-to-home opportunities for kids and families to get outside, be active, and have fun.

International Efforts

United Nations
The UNFCCC secretariat (UN Climate Change) is the United Nations entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threat of climate change. UNFCCC stands for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.

Environmental Defense Fund
We are Environmental Defense Fund, the organization that is all-in on climate — the greatest challenge of our time. Our game-changing solutions put people at the center of all we do.

Climate Action Network
Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of more than 1,500 civil society organisations in over 130 countries driving collective and sustainable action to fight the climate crisis and to achieve social and racial justice.

Updated: April 2022

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