Staff Pick

You might expect a book on climate change to end with an illuminating contrast between the Papal Encyclical and the Paris Agreement, as Ghosh’s short and powerful analysis does. But you might be surprised that it starts with a question about contemporary novels: why is climate change in fiction relegated to science fiction rather than realist literary work? Climate change is neither speculative nor extra-terrestrial; we live with its consequences here and now. Similarly, supernatural powers that figured in myths and epics have been banished from most novels, where the protagonists are ordinary individuals, as if we are never subject to forces beyond our control. “The climate crisis is also a crisis of culture, and thus of the imagination,” Ghosh argues. We’re used to routine, not to the rare, improbable event. We’re used to being in charge. We’re used to building on seacoasts, so we continue to do so, despite disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Ghosh traces this anthropocentrism, and the resulting “derangement” in our relationship with the environment, to capitalism, as many have done, but he breaks newer ground by finding its roots in imperialism. His arguments are non-Eurocentric, his points direct and convincing. Finding the public sphere as focused on self-expression as today’s literature is, Ghosh looks to churches—accustomed as they are to a cosmic scale--to change our thinking. One day, he says, we’ll remember where we were when the Larsen B ice shelf broke up the way people now remember where they were on 9/11.

The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable Cover Image
ISBN: 9780226323039
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: University of Chicago Press - September 14th, 2016

The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (Berlin Family Lectures) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780226526812
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: University of Chicago Press - July 24th, 2017

Roughly every 6 years, UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases an Assessment Report, a literature review hundreds of pages long designed for technocrats and scientists. This is not that document. This is a much more accessible book that employs a combination of graphics, smart section divisions, and plain syntax to break up the sprawling issue of climate change. The author’s patient style of explanation anticipates reader questions, slowing down or changing subjects when necessary. It’s a book for a person with a casual scientific background but a keen desire to understand pressing global concerns.

The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change Cover Image
ISBN: 9781935704737
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: American Meteorological Society - August 15th, 2014

What the frack is a field philosopher? Adam Briggle narrates his journey from naive newly appointed philosophy professor to community organizer, thereby demonstrating that understanding environmental issues is often a matter of human rather than scientific insight. He explores questions like ‘does opposing fracking make me a hypocrite?’ and ‘is being afraid of fracking irrational?’ Written with a philosopher’s ironic wit and gift for metaphor, this book even teases apart and elucidates technical aspects of fracking I never thought I’d understand. It is a powerful reassertion of the practical value of the humanities in a complex modern world.

A Field Philosopher's Guide to Fracking: How One Texas Town Stood Up to Big Oil and Gas Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631490071
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Liveright - October 19th, 2015