With so much happening, perhaps a good book or film can help put things in perspective. There are many thought-provoking, inspiring and informative books and films that we and others have discovered about energy (generation, distribution and efficiency), sustainability and climate change.
Below is a list we have compiled so far. Please note that this list does not imply our endorsement of the book or film. If you have a recommendation, please pass it along. Thanks!
With many book titles, we have provided a link to Amazon to make it easier to learn more about that book. Amazon typically has many reviews and lists related books to help you in your selection process. The link does not imply this is the only or the best way to gain access to the book. We highly recommend borrowing, swapping or asking a friend, borrowing it from your local public or school library, downloading it or purchasing it from your local book store. Please choose whichever method you find ethical and least environmentally damaging.
First, a mention of a recent film that has been getting lots of attention: Planet of the Humans, a “new” film written and produced by Jeff Gibbs (executive produced by Michael Moore) that questions the effectiveness of renewable energy and the agendas of renewable energy promoters. While the concern it expresses about a full planet where the human impact has been devastating and renewable energy not the panacea to climate change, it chooses to skewer and distort renewable energy, one of our most important defenses, as the villain rather than one of tools to limit climate change. Unfortunately the film chooses to use 10 to 20 year old sound bites and contorted data to make its case. It will suck in just about any environmentalist and leave you with misrepresentations of renewable energy but with no constructive insight or tools with which to separate the good from the bad. To help you recover if you see it, check out this site for a good rebuttal of just 6 of the many distorted facts. This second review rebutts other misinformation presented in the film. A third review tries to understand why the film makers would create such deception. Perhaps the film makers have their own sponsors we don’t yet know about?
Now to the books:
Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy
In his New York Times best-seller, Douglas Tallamy takes on the suburban lawn and so much more in showing us the extent we are starving our ecosystems with our manicured landscaping. Once we are aware of our devastating impact, he shows us how we can become the solution for enriching our local ecosystems and our planet’s future. Filled with relatable examples, important history and the psychology that got us here, it’s a book you will enjoy and discover the nature you have been missing.
Selection for MAREA Book Discussion, August 13, 2020
Supply Shock: Economic Growth at the Crossroads and The Steady State Solutions by Brian Czech
Brian Czech brings his combined background in ecology, conservation, and economics to argue that our assumption of limitless economic growth is as absurd as it is in the natural world, making the case for a steady state economy governed by natural laws as the real key to our future. We invite you to freshly examine our entrenched myths and explore a better way in our on-going journey to discover a more sustainable future.
Selection for MAREA Book Discussion, May 14, 2020
Tipping Point for Planet Earth by Anthony D. Barnosky & Elizabeth A. Hadly
Experienced scientists, this husband and wife team share highly relatable personal experiences and perspectives to help us understand our population, environmental and climate predicament, how each and the combination is directly affecting us and why it matters to a family living in the US. Their story brings the events of the planet Earth close to home to help us in our on-going journey to discover a more sustainable future.
Selection for MAREA Book Discussion, February 13, 2020
The Tipping Point How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
Author of five New York Times bestsellers, Malcolm Gladwell takes us inside that magic moment when an idea or behavior catches fire and takes hold in society, showing us what makes trends successful. In this fascinating narrative, he helps us appreciate key ingredients to that magic potion. The Tipping Point helps unlock some of the magic needed to address climate change as we explore prospective insights in our on-going journey to make a more sustainable future.
Selection for MAREA Book Discussion, November 14, 2019
The Wizard and The Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World by Charles C. Mann
Charles Mann explores two central, but not widely known, protagonists in our climate change dilemma and in that process, provokes the question we need to ask ourselves: what values and beliefs do we carry into our assessment of climate change? Will we invent our way out or will we learn a new way to balance our species with nature? Are we Wizards or are we Prophets? Hopefully at least a little of both. The way Charles Mann presents these dueling visions will help us see our own beliefs and motives and perhaps better understand those of others while comprehensively framing the nature of the challenge.
Selection for MAREA Book Discussion, August 8, 2019
The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, The Economy, and the World by Jeremy Rifkin
From his vantage as President of the Foundation of Economic Trends, author of 18 best-selling books, and influential international advisor, particularly to European governments and international corporations, Jeremy Rifkin offers an optimistic vision and social roadmap of how renewable energy and the internet will transform the economy and society in the third industrial revolution.
Selection for MAREA Book Discussion, May 9, 2019
Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by Edward O. Wilson
Our diverse natural world cannot just be specimens in a museum without much more significant impact to our life on earth. World-renowned biologist and Pultizer Prize-winning author, Edward O. Wilson shares the intricacies of the natural world and what it will take to save it. Learn more about the initiative.
Selection for MAREA Book Discussion, March 14, 2019
The End of Stationarity: Searching for the New Normal in the Age of Carbon Shock by Mark Schapiro
Climate change has taken us to the end of Stationarity, of having constants to base predictions for weather and, as a result, many other economic and social norms we have come to expect. Mark Schapiro explores several diverse and unexpected impacts of climate change, attempts to limit it, and opportunities to address it that are beginning to emerge.
Selection for MAREA Book Discussion, November 8, 2018
Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life, by David R. Montgomery
MacArthur Fellow, David Montgomery shares thriving examples of how regenerative farming can recover our soil and, in the process, increase food production and slow climate change.
Selection for MAREA Book Discussion, September 13, 2018
See the video below for a related interview of one of the subjects interviewed in the book, Dr. Kristine Nichols, who spoke at the August 28, 2018 MAREA meeting.
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken
Maybe our first plan to address climate change, this book addresses the many factors that could help us overcome Greenhouse Gas escalation and move towards reversing it. Lots of social changes could have a significant impact. Lots of great information
Selection for MAREA June 2018 book discussion
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
Selection for MAREA March 2018 book discussion
Climate of Hope, by Michael Bloomsberg and Carl Pope
The authors share their successes addressing climate change, particularly with coal and in the cities. Engaging to read; not too technical.
Selection for MAREA January 2018 book discussion
The Grid, by Gretchen Bakke, PhD (Bloomsbury, 2016)
Engaging perspective on the U.S. electric grid, particularly historically how it came to be what it is and the challenges it currently faces. Conceptually helpful; not technical.
Selection for MAREA October 2017 book discussion
Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition, by Charles Eisenstein (North Atlantic Books, 2011)
First suggested by Bruce Hankins
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by Michael Braungart and William McDonough (North Point Press, 2002)
Engaging argument for how products should be designed for sustainability. Good conceptually; it would be nicer if current design practices and society could have provided more examples to emulate.
Selection for MAREA August 2017 book discussion
The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability, Designing for Abundance, by Michael Braungart and William McDonough
Sequel to Cradle to Cradle, more focused with more examples to illustrate. Summarizes Cradle to Cradle in first chapter.
The End of Nature, by Bill McKibben (Anchor Books, 1989 or Random House, 2006)
Illuminating book about climate change with descriptions eerily prescient in our 21st century world.
Selection for MAREA May 2017 book discussion
Our Renewable Future: Laying the Path for 100% Clean Energy, by Richard Heinberg and David Fridley (Island Press, 2016)
Important book for understanding the implications of our transition to renewable energy. Very good technically; illuminates the issues but limited in imagining where we may need to or can go to achieve a 100% renewable energy future.
Selection for MAREA March 2017 book discussion
The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, by Charles Fishman (Free Press, 2012)
Fascinating narrative of the psychology and handling of our most precious resource. Makes important connection between water and energy.
Selection for MAREA January 2017 book discussion
Supply Shock: Economic Growth at the Crossroads and the Steady State Solution by Brian Czech (Author), Herman Daly (Foreword) (New Society Publishers, 2013)
Dire Predictions, Understanding Climate Change by Michael Mann and Lee R. Kump
Helpful to understanding climate change.
Selection for MAREA October 2016 book discussion
Energy Switch by Craig Morris
Fascinating narrative of how Germany’s energy policy enabled them to become a world leader in renewable energy generation. Useful perspective for enabling more U.S. success.
Selection for MAREA August 2016 book discussion
Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken
Selection for MAREA May 2016 book discussion
Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ Encyclical
Selection for MAREA February 2016 book discussion
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, by Michael Mann (Columbia University Press, 2013)
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein (Simon & Schuster, 2015)
Selection for MAREA Oct 2015 book discussion
Not sure which book to select? MAREA holds community book discussions, open to all interested in thoughtful discussion and positive sharing about the books selected. Well attended and thoughtfully moderated, these discussions provide meaningful opportunity for in-depth dialogue on topics central to our work. Book discussions are typically on the second Thursday of selected months, approximately every other month and typically at the Kutztown, Pennsylvania Public Library. Even if you have not read the book, please join us. The discussion may inspire you to read it afterward!
Kutztown too far to travel? We include some of the group feedback from our discussions in the review sections below. You can also start your own book discussion in your community. Please feel free to use our list to inform your choices!