What are the consequences of the climate crisis?
Heatwaves. Floods. Wildfires. Hurricanes. These are just a few of the most obvious and direct consequences of the climate crisis.
How exactly is the climate changing? What changes have already happened? What changes will we see in our lifetime? How will all of this affect our day to day lives and the health, safety, and security of our communities and societies?
This Climate Crisis Consequences Reading List features books that will help you find the answers to these and many other questions related to the climate crisis and its consequences for human and non-human life.
Book Inclusion Criteria
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Books About The Consequences of the Climate Crisis
Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency by Mark Lynas
This book must not be ignored. It really is our final warning.
Mark Lynas delivers a vital account of the future of our earth, and our civilisation, if current rates of global warming persist. And it’s only looking worse.
We are living in a climate emergency. But how much worse could it get? Will civilisation collapse? Are we already past the point of no return? What kind of future can our children expect? Rigorously cataloguing the very latest climate science, Mark Lynas explores the course we have set for Earth over the next century and beyond. Degree by terrifying degree, he charts the likely consequences of global heating and the ensuing climate catastrophe.
At one degree – the world we are already living in – vast wildfires scorch California and Australia, while monster hurricanes devastate coastal cities. At two degrees the Arctic ice cap melts away, and coral reefs disappear from the tropics. At three, the world begins to run out of food, threatening millions with starvation. At four, large areas of the globe are too hot for human habitation, erasing entire nations and turning billions into climate refugees. At five, the planet is warmer than for 55 million years, while at six degrees a mass extinction of unparalleled proportions sweeps the planet, even raising the threat of the end of all life on Earth.
These escalating consequences can still be avoided, but time is running out. We must largely stop burning fossil fuels within a decade if we are to save the coral reefs and the Arctic. If we fail, then we risk crossing tipping points that could push global climate chaos out of humanity’s control.
This book must not be ignored. It really is our final warning.
Most Anticipated by The New York Times
The Washington Post
The Los Angeles Times
A Next Big Idea Book Club Selection
The New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
New York Times bestselling journalist’s “masterful, bracing” (David Wallace-Wells) investigation exposes “through stellar reporting, artful storytelling and fascinating scientific explanations” (Naomi Klein) an explosive new understanding of heat and the impact that rising temperatures will have on our lives and on our planet. “Entertaining and thoroughly researched,” (Al Gore), it will completely change the way you see the world, and despite its urgent themes, is injected with “eternal optimism” (Michael Mann) on how to combat one of the most important issues of our time.
“When heat comes, it’s invisible. It doesn’t bend tree branches or blow hair across your face to let you know it’s arrived…. The sun feels like the barrel of a gun pointed at you.”
The world is waking up to a new reality: wildfires are now seasonal in California, the Northeast is getting less and less snow each winter, and the ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctica are melting fast. Heat is the first order threat that drives all other impacts of the climate crisis. And as the temperature rises, it is revealing fault lines in our governments, our politics, our economy, and our values. The basic science is not complicated: Stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, and the global temperature will stop rising tomorrow. Stop burning fossil fuels in 50 years, and the temperature will keep rising for 50 years, making parts of our planet virtually uninhabitable. It’s up to us. The hotter it gets, the deeper and wider our fault lines will open.
The Heat Will Kill You First is about the extreme ways in which our planet is already changing. It is about why spring is coming a few weeks earlier and fall is coming a few weeks later and the impact that will have on everything from our food supply to disease outbreaks. It is about what will happen to our lives and our communities when typical summer days in Chicago or Boston go from 90° F to 110°F. A heatwave, Goodell explains, is a predatory event— one that culls out the most vulnerable people. But that is changing. As heatwaves become more intense and more common, they will become more democratic.
As an award-winning journalist who has been at the forefront of environmental journalism for decades, Goodell’s new book may be his most provocative yet, explaining how extreme heat will dramatically change the world as we know it. Masterfully reported, mixing the latest scientific insight with on-the-ground storytelling, Jeff Goodell tackles the big questions and uncovers how extreme heat is a force beyond anything we have reckoned with before.
The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: Futures from the Frontiers of Climate Science by Paul Behrens
A unique, highly readable approach to the environmental crisis, with alternating chapters outlining the effects on society if left unchecked, and the radical actions we can take to prevent it
Now includes updated sections on COVID-19 and COP26
The environmental emergency is the greatest threat we face. Preventing it will require an unprecedented political and social response. And yet, there is still hope.
Academic, physicist, environmental expert and award-winning science communicator Paul Behrens presents a radical analysis of a civilization on the brink of catastrophe. Setting out the pressing existential threats we face, he writes, in alternating chapters, of what the future could look like at its most pessimistic and hopeful.
In lucid prose, Behrens argues that structural problems need structural solutions, and examines critical areas in which political will is required, including women’s education, food and energy security, biodiversity and economics.
The book was printed with two different jackets, to illustrate the unique duality of the author’s approach.
Enviromedics: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health by Jay Lemery and Paul Auerbach
Many of us have concerns about the effects of climate change on Earth, but we often overlook the essential issue of human health. This book addresses that oversight and enlightens readers about the most important aspect of one of the greatest challenges of our time.
The global environment is under massive stress from centuries of human industrialization. The projections regarding climate change for the next century and beyond are grim. The impact this will have on human health is tremendous, and we are only just now discovering what the long-term outcomes may be. By weighing in from a physician’s perspective, Jay Lemery and Paul Auerbach clarify the science, dispel the myths, and help readers understand the threats of climate change to human health. No better argument exists for persuading people to care about climate change than a close look at its impacts on our physical and emotional well-being.
The need has never been greater for a grounded, informative, and accessible discussion about this topic. In this groundbreaking book, the authors not only sound the alarm but address the health issues likely to arise in the coming years.
The Geography of Risk: Epic Storms, Rising Seas, and the Cost of America’s Coasts by Gilbert M. Gaul
This century has seen the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history—but who bears the brunt of these monster storms?
Consider this: Five of the most expensive hurricanes in history have made landfall since 2005: Katrina ($160 billion), Ike ($40 billion), Sandy ($72 billion), Harvey ($125 billion), and Maria ($90 billion). With more property than ever in harm’s way, and the planet and oceans warming dangerously, it won’t be long before we see a $250 billion hurricane. Why? Because Americans have built $3 trillion worth of property in some of the riskiest places on earth: barrier islands and coastal floodplains. And they have been encouraged to do so by what Gilbert M. Gaul reveals in The Geography of Risk to be a confounding array of federal subsidies, tax breaks, low-interest loans, grants, and government flood insurance that shift the risk of life at the beach from private investors to public taxpayers, radically distorting common notions of risk.
These federal incentives, Gaul argues, have resulted in one of the worst planning failures in American history, and the costs to taxpayers are reaching unsustainable levels. We have become responsible for a shocking array of coastal amenities: new roads, bridges, buildings, streetlights, tennis courts, marinas, gazebos, and even spoiled food after hurricanes. TheGeography of Risk will forever change the way you think about the coasts, from the clash between economic interests and nature, to the heated politics of regulators and developers.
RECIPIENT OF THE 2018 IZZY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
“Every so often a book comes along that can dramatically change, or elevate, one’s thinking about a global problem. Much like Naomi Klein’s books, Todd Miller’s Storming the Wall is such a book and deserves far more attention and discussion.”—Izzy Award Judges, Ithaca College
Named one of the “15 Books on Climate Change That Are Essential Reading” – Esquire
“A galvanizing forecast of global warming’s endgame and a powerful indictment of America’s current stance.”—Kirkus Reviews
As global warming accelerates, droughts last longer, floods rise higher, and super-storms become more frequent. With increasing numbers of people on the move as a result, the business of containing them—border fortification—is booming.
In Storming the Wall, Todd Miller travels around the world to connect the dots between climate-ravaged communities, the corporations cashing in on border militarization, and emerging movements for environmental justice and sustainability. Reporting from the flashpoints of climate clashes, and from likely sites of futures battles, Miller chronicles a growing system of militarized divisions between the rich and the poor, the environmentally secure and the environmentally exposed. Stories of crisis, greed and violence are juxtaposed with powerful examples of solidarity and hope in this urgent and timely message from the frontlines of the post-Paris Agreement era.
Todd Miller’s writings about the border have appeared in the New York Times, Tom Dispatch, and many other places.
Praise for Storming the Wall
“Nothing will test human institutions like climate change in this century—as this book makes crystal clear, people on the move from rising waters, spreading deserts, and endless storms could profoundly destabilize our civilizations unless we seize the chance to re-imagine our relationships to each other. This is no drill, but it is a test, and it will be graded pass-fail”—Bill McKibben, author Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“As Todd Miller shows in this important and harrowing book, climate-driven migration is set to become one of the defining issues of our time…. This is a must-read book.”—Christian Parenti, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, author of Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence
Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas
Note: This book is a classic work of climate nonfiction that contains many important insights about the climate crisis. The author’s newer book, Our Final Warning, contains more up-to-date information and analysis about the consequences of the climate crisis.
Possibly the most graphic treatment of global warming that has yet been published, Six Degrees is what readers of Al Gore’s best-selling An Inconvenient Truth or Ross Gelbspan’s Boiling Point will turn to next. Written by the acclaimed author of High Tide, this highly relevant and compelling book uses accessible journalistic prose to distill what environmental scientists portend about the consequences of human pollution for the next hundred years.
In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report projecting average global surface temperatures to rise between 1.4 degrees and 5.8 degrees Celsius (roughly 2 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century. Based on this forecast, author Mark Lynas outlines what to expect from a warming world, degree by degree. At 1 degree Celsius, most coral reefs and many mountain glaciers will be lost. A 3-degree rise would spell the collapse of the Amazon rainforest, disappearance of Greenland’s ice sheet, and the creation of deserts across the Midwestern United States and southern Africa. A 6-degree increase would eliminate most life on Earth, including much of humanity.
Based on authoritative scientific articles, the latest computer models, and information about past warm events in Earth history, Six Degrees promises to be an eye-opening warning that humanity will ignore at its peril.