Staff Pick

Rich’s heartbreaking book is the story of a window opening and closing. It covers the decade between 1979, when the EPA published a report on the effects of carbon emissions, and 1989, when world leaders meeting in Noordwijk failed to sign a binding global resolution to stabilize those emissions. But what might have been an exercise in outrage or a dry account of meetings, hearings, debates, and reports is a gracefully written narrative that lets us get to know the key figures involved and that offers real insights into why we’ve failed to summon the political will to act in a coordinated, meaningful way on a deadly serious issue. And there are surprises: petroleum companies haven’t always been deniers. Initially, they accepted the science of climate change and, understanding that “the longer the industry waited to act the worse it would go for them,” were ready to change.  So what happened? It’s tempting to blame Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and John Sununu. But as Rich shows, if it was so easy for other government leaders to back down in the face of America’s reservations, they were never fully committed in the first place. Unlike a local environmental crisis or even the catchily phrased “ozone hole,” the future is large and abstract and we won’t be there to see what it’s really like.

Losing Earth: A Recent History Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374191337
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: MCD - April 9th, 2019

Staff Pick

To jolt people out of their complacency about climate change, Wallace-Wells gathered the data on twelve key elements of today’s ever-more unstable world. Delivered in one concentrated punch, the statistics on the global rise in heat, ferocity and frequency of storms, droughts, famines, ocean acidification, and political unrest are truly shocking. Add to these the cascade effect of their unpredictable interactions—more carbon in the soil fosters larger plants with fewer nutrients, which sharpens competition for dwindling protein sources, leading to more social unrest, climate refugees, and so on—and Wallace-Wells presents a truly horrifying picture of a world that is hurtling toward apocalypse.  Yet despite his title, Wallace-Wells believes that even by the end of the century—about as far as we can bear to look at this point—only one third of Earth will actually be uninhabitable. We still have time to change. But will we?  Human behavior is the greatest of the many unknowns that lie ahead, and, without laying out particular policies, Wallace-Wells offers a profound reflection on what it will mean for us to live—for the first time ever—outside “the narrow window of environmental conditions that allowed the human to evolve” and, most crucially, that enabled us to create a civilization based on fossil-fuels.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525576709
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Tim Duggan Books - February 19th, 2019

Staff Pick
In this heartbreaking book on climate change, Rush reports that wetlands have traditionally been treated as wastelands. People ignored their crucial role as “giant sponges,” using them for landfill and later developing them. But, flooding regularly, most were left to the poor, people with nearly as few options as the trees. Intertwining the voices of “the most vulnerable living along our shrinking coast” with stories of recent hurricanes, flood insurance policies, and descriptions of bayous and shorelines, Rush transcends statistics, showing  the immediate, human impact of rising seas. Rush lets you feel the despair of people finding the ocean in their living rooms, the desperation of spoonbills unable to feed themselves and their young, and the tragic loss of once stunningly beautiful wetlands.
Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313676
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Milkweed Editions - June 12th, 2018