The Future Earth Book Cover

Sustainability Book Recommendations

Hello Tangletown!  As we approach the long winter months, Sustainability Sam thought we might provide you with a list of sustainable reading recommendations from our committee.  Some of the suggestions are uplifting and hopeful; a few are focused more on the urgency of the situation we are facing.  This list is by no means exhaustive and it is not meant to be comprehensive.  Rather, it reflects some of the themes of what motivates each of us on the committee to continue working toward a more sustainable world.  We all come to this work for a different reason and bring different ideas and viewpoints on what we should focus on in our committee.  We hope you enjoy some of the entries on our list and submit some of your own to  We’d love to read them!

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

by Paul Hawken

I have been learning a lot about climate change and the catastrophic impacts it will have on my life and the life of my children. I chose to read Drawdown because I wanted to learn about the solutions as I am hopeful that we can reverse some of the damage we have done. Two things really stood out for me in this book. One, the multitude of available solutions to climate change that we already have and can scale. Two, how important caring for people is to fighting climate change, specifically educating and empowering girls.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming

By David Wallace-Wells

I was drawn to this book because I felt like I didn’t truly understand how my life and my kids lives  would actually be different in a hotter world. What exactly would happen to the earth after climate change occurs and when exactly is it going to happen? This book gives a stark and highly detailed description of our future if we don’t reduce our fossil fuel emissions.  It explains not just what will happen in the natural world but how that will then impact human societies and cultures across the globe.  It opened my eyes to the real and dire issue of climate migration.  The book is exhaustively researched and can be dense with facts but it is well written and highly readable.

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis 

Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson 

This is a book of essays, poetry, art, and inspiring stories written by women who are on the forefront of climate study, action, and change. I chose it because when I heard the editors interviewed on NPR Marketplace, I was intrigued by their desire to present a collection of knowledge and an outline of work to be done. They emphasized that the climate crisis is the “manifestation of a problem,”(Wilkinson) rather than the problem itself and that the focus should be on system change if we want to accomplish anything. The book offers hope and inspires action. 

As a family systems therapist, I am very interested in systems and the interaction of systems. The book talks about how the climate crisis affects (and is affected by) the economy, racial justice, and mental health, to name a few. I also chose this book because right now, during the pandemic, I have a short attention span. The short pieces are an easier read and more memorable. 

The Future Earth: A Radical Vision For What’s Possible in the Age of Warming

By Eric Holthaus

This is a book by a local author.  He moved to Saint Paul a few years ago from Arizona to live in a more sustainable region of the country.  His book is a relentlessly positive view of how we, as a country and a global population, can come together to make the necessary changes to our lifestyles, economic structures and political frameworks to avoid the catastrophe of climate change.  His book takes an optimistic view of human nature that seems completely absent from our current political climate.  Because of this, while reading it, I vascillated between loving his optimism and feeling it was terribly naive.  I did really enjoy how he broke down the future into 10 year segments and described what in his view would happen in these decades to avert catastrophe and ultimately emerge as a more just, equitable and sustainable society.

Facing the Climate Emergency: How to Transform Yourself with Climate Truth. 

By Margaret Klein Salamon and Molly Gage

The site Goodreads has this to say about the book:  Facing the Climate Emergency gives people the tools to confront the climate emergency, face their negative emotions, and channel them into protecting humanity and the natural world.”   The book is not only instructive about the direness of the crisis we are facing but it also helps give readers actionable things to do to help solve the crisis. 

How a Biden White House will Approach Climate Change

Politics with Amy Walter podcast from Friday, November 20, 2020

Since we just elected a new president, I found this episode of the podcast to be really instructive about the political realities of enacting climate change policies in the next 4 years.  Amy Walter asks smart questions and has really knowledgeable guests who lay out the political challenges that lie ahead for making measurable changes to U.S. climate change policy.  It’s not a book but I thought I’d include it here because the political realities on the ground right now are a real impediment to quick action on climate change in a time when we really need quick action.  Unfortunately, action on climate change won’t happen in a vacuum and this episode really explains a lot of that in depth.