FART Recommendations: Six Non-Fiction Books About Climate Change

It’s April, and you know what that means – a new FART challenge! If you haven’t been following along, it’s never too late to join our year-long reading challenge, Folks All Reading Together. The category for April is to read a book about climate change and/or the environment. Here are six non-fiction books from the heartbreaking to the hopeful that meet that requirement.


The Carbon Club by Marian Wilkinson


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Australians have been seeing some pretty dramatic climate events – from bushfires to droughts and floods – and many have been wondering why there aren’t any policies coming forward to address the problems. The Carbon Club not only explains why this is but also takes a deep dive into the last two decades of climate policy in Australia – or more to the point, the lack of it. With climate science deniers growing louder the world over, many politicians have let climate policy sit on the back burner. And with politicians and capitalists afraid of losing wealth, jobs, and industry in Australia, a sort of climate club has formed – one bent on keeping change from occurring.


All We Can Save edited by Katharine K. Wilkinson and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson


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Lots of books on climate change focus on the problems – but what are some of the solutions? All We Can Save is a collection of essays, poetry, and art by prominent US women in the climate discussion. Bringing together a diverse selection of voices, this collection offers a host of ways that we can move forward in the current crisis – solutions that aim to bring about an immediate and radical change in the way society is dealing with climate change from a group that is so often not present at the table when the discussion happens.


A Terrible Thing to Waste by Harriet A. Washington


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Environmental racism – what is it, and how has it come to be? Award-winning science writer Harriet A. Washington addresses the many ways the climate crisis disproportionately affects Americans of color – from higher levels of pollution in low-income Black communities when compared to white communities to lead poisoning and other environmental hazards. While acknowledging the flawed metric of the IQ test, Washington uses it as a tool for measuring some of the cognitive damage pollution has had on marginalized communities while simultaneously tearing down the concept that intelligence is something inherited rather than heavily impacted by the environment. While the figures are nothing but devastating, Washington also takes the time to present ways we can remedy the situation. 


Toxic Politics by Yanzhong Huang


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Fresh off the presses in December 2020, Toxic Politics addresses the widespread view that China is successfully tackling pollution. While there have been major changes in policy, the government has not actually been able to enforce change in a way that results in any major reduction in pollution or improvement in public health. Huang makes the connection that this failure is due to the fundamentally flawed structure of the Chinese party-state. While Huang also reveals some of the resiliency of the government, Toxic Politics takes a good, hard look at the future of China, the party-state, and pollution.


The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells


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We have seen some of the devastation that climate change can bring – seemingly never-ending storms, forest fires, floods, droughts – but Wallace-Wells suggests that this is just the beginning. In The Uninhabitable Earth, Wallace-Wells gives us a preview of what is yet to come: food shortages, refugee emergencies, and more. While being a meditation both on how we got here and where we’re headed, The Uninhabitable Earth is above all a call to action. It has taken precious little time to get us to the dire straits we’re in, and we have precious little time left if we hope to avoid what is yet to come. 


A Good War by Seth Klein


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If, like many climate scientists are warning, we only have ten years to turn things around for ourselves and the climate, then how can we possibly rise to the occasion? Well, in his 2020 book, A Good War, Seth Klein shows us that Canadians have actually made fast and radical change happen before: during WWII. Klein examines the ways in which Canadians and their government were able to transform the economy to support the war effort and the ways history can be repurposed to solve the climate crisis. A Good War is a practical and radical plan for the future and all that we can achieve.


Climate change can be a pretty depressing topic to read about, especially when you feel like there’s nothing you can do. Hopefully, whichever book you choose to read leaves you with the determination to effect change and the tools to do so with hope. As always, if you’re participating in the FART challenge, make sure to tag us in your reads and use the hashtags #AYearofMagic and #FARTchallenge (#FARTReadingChallenge on Facebook and Instagram).


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Fiona McTaggart

I basically learned to read over my mum’s shoulder as I followed along and I’ve been obsessed with Harry Potter ever since!