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Summer (and winter) reading - ten books about climate change

  • 18 Aug 2011, 12:00
  • Robin Webster

The summer has arrived and what better way to enjoy the sunshine but to sit on beach pondering whether extremely pleasant weather events are a product of climate change and a warning of a very uncertain future?

We at Carbon Brief have scoured the bookshops from London's Charing Cross Road to the Amazon (website) to bring the ten most compelling publications from 2011 about climate change science, policy and communications (although you will have to wait for some).

1) The philosopher Stephen M Gardiner brings you a 512 page tome A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change.

This book claims our politicians, our institutions and ourselves must be held to account for a "profound ethical failure" of failing to face up to climate change - and discusses how today's wealthy are capitalising on scientific ignorance to exploit the poor and future generations.

Oxford University Press, £22.50.

2) If you are anything like us, whilst you are lounging by the sea or in a country retreat what will really be occupying your mind is how our cities will survive and adapt in the wake of climate change.

Luckily, Peter Calthorne, a world renowned architect and planner, has just published his 176 page hardback Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change. Calthorne argues that the next 50 years will change our cities more profoundly than anything witnessed during the last half century.

Island Press, £31.00

3) John Cook and Haydn Washington's book Climate Change Denial aims to be "an in-depth examination of the social science behind denial" - particularly denial of climate change.

As we said in our review back in May, whilst perhaps less suitable for those already deeply into the subject, the book has the virtue of thoughtful accessibility, and is an excellent primer for anyone getting interested in this area and looking for a good overview. John Cook blogs at Skeptical Science and it maintains his clear, thorough style throughout.

Earthscan, £14.00

4) Books interrogating the relationship between capitalism and climate change are popular this year and Professor Mark Pelling of Kings College, London, edits a collection from leading academics questioning whether the current economic, political and social structures are capable of dealing with climate change.

Climate Change and the Crisis of Capitalism: A Chance to Reclaim Self, Society and Nature will be published in hardback this December (so reading for the Christmas rather than the summer holiday). The blurb says that it will argue that

"…the combination of global environmental change and global economic restructuring require a re-thinking of the priorities, processes and underlying values that shape contemporary development aspirations and policy".  

Routledge, £76.00

5) For the committed band of journalists who read Carbon Brief, Maxwell T Boykoff is about to publish a 240 page spectacular on the reporting of climate change with the Cambridge University Press.

The academic has titled his book Who Speaks for the Climate? Making Sense of Media Reporting on Climate Change. It should also be interested reading for academics, students of journalism and those concerned about global warming.

Cambridge University Press, £50

6) The Guardian's Asia environment correspondent Jonathan Watts believes China must make a choice between catastrophe or radical change and this is the premise of his book When A Billion Chinese Jump: Voices from the Front Line of Climate Change.

£10.99, Faber and Faber

7) Anthony Giddens, the Labour peer who has enjoyed more citations that Freud and Marx, has been publishing a book a year throughout his career. This year it is the turn of the "seminal" Politics of Climate Change. Already hugely influential, the second edition will be available from October.

Polity Press, £14.99

8) For another political perspective….Fools Rule: Inside the Failed Politics of Climate Change from William Marsden is described as an "eloquent, range inducing polemic". He takes on the irony that as the scientific evidence stacks up and the need for mitigation more urgent, our political negotiations seem to become more futile. The hardback is published in October but available for pre-ordering.

Knopf Canada, £14.50

9) And if that gets you going, wait until March 2012 when you can get a paperback copy of Climate Clever: How Governments Can Tackle Climate Change (and Still Win Elections) from Professor Hugh Compston and associate professor Ian Bailey. The book is billed as "the first book-length study of political strategy and climate change."

Routledge, £17.99

10) The Catchy and Populist Title of 2011 Award must go to Klaus Hasselmann and his fellow authors for the 264 page Earthscan paperback, Reframing the Problem of Climate Change: From Zero Sum Game to Win-Win Solutions. If you can get past the name, then the book promises to prescribe "what is really needed to link knowledge to action."

Earthscan, £29.99

Any more thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

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