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Reads For Earth Day 2024


Reads For Earth Day 2024


The theme for Earth Day 2024  is “Planet vs. Plastics” that calls for the end of plastics for the sake of human and planetary health, demanding a 60% reduction in the production of plastics by 2040 and an ultimate goal of building a plastic-free future for generations to come. 

According to the Earth Day website, “Plastics extend beyond an imminent environmental issue; they present a grave threat to human health as alarming as climate change. As plastics break down into microplastics, they release toxic chemicals into our food and water sources and circulate through the air we breathe. Plastic production now has grown to more than 380 million tons per year. More plastic has been produced in the last ten years than in the entire 20th century, and the industry plans to grow explosively for the indefinite future.”

This is a great time to plant a garden, clean up litter, reduce your use of plastics, recycle more,  and consider other ways to play your part in conserving and restoring natural resources, and ensuring their sustainability for future generations.

Here are some books available with your Livingston Library card, that engagingly and informatively elucidate various environmental and sustainability issues.

before its gone

Before it’s Gone : Stories From the Front Lines of Climate Change in Small-Town America by Jonathan Vigliotti

Vigliotti’s travels across the country, taking him to the frontlines of climate disaster and revealing the genuine impacts of climate change that countless Americans have already been forced to confront. From massive forest fires in California to hurricanes in Louisiana, receding coastlines in Massachusetts and devastated fisheries in Alaska, we learn that warnings of a future impacted by climate are no more; the climate catastrophe is already here. From massive forest fires in California to hurricanes in Louisiana, receding coastlines in Massachusetts and devastated fisheries in Alaska, we learn that warnings of a future impacted by climate are no more; the climate catastrophe is already here.

Climate Capitali$$m : Winning the Race to Zero Emissions and Solving the Crisis of Our Age by Akshat Rathi

On a journey across five continents, this book tracks the unlikely heroes driving the fight against climate change. From the Chinese bureaucrat who did more to make electric cars a reality than Elon Musk, to the Danish students who helped to build the world’s longest-operating wind turbine, or the American oil executive building the technology that can reverse climate damages, we meet the people working to scale technologies that are finally able to bend the emissions curve. Through stories that bring people, policy and technology together, Rathi reveals how the green economy is not only possible, but profitable.

Cool Food: Erasing Your Carbon Footprint One Bite At a Time by Robert Downey Jr.

Actor and philanthropist Robert Downey Jr. and author Thomas Kostigen show you how to make simple choices in the supermarket, in your kitchen, and in the world to reduce your environmental impact.

A Future We Can Love : How We Can Reverse the Climate Crisis With the Power of our Hearts & Minds by Susan Bauer-Wu

Though more and more people are alarmed by climate change, many of us remain stuck in inaction-paralyzed by difficult emotions like fear or grief, or simply uncertain what we can do.  The author uses the inspiration of the Dalai Lama and Greta’s words and life stories to embark on a four-part journey toward connection, hope, and purpose.   Filled with the Dalai Lama’s hard-earned wisdom, Greta’s piercing focus, and dozens of accessible practices of climate activism and personal resilience, this book offers a path not just out of inaction but toward a future we can love.

H is For Hope : Climate Change From A to Z by Elizabeth Kolbert

Twenty-six pithy and piercing essays draw on history, science, statistics, fieldwork, politics, ethics, and social observations to present the jarring facts about the climate crisis. Kolbert’s tone is exemplified in this statement in “A,” which is for Nobel laureate Svante Arrhenius, who, at the close of the nineteenth century, created the first climate model: “Here we all are, watching things fall apart. And yet deep down, we don’t believe it.” “B” is from Greta Thunberg’s lament over “thirty years of blah, blah, blah” instead of actual climate action. Kolbert charts the obstacles to building a new clean energy grid and “climate change’s many compounding injustices,” stating that the “ethical challenge is as big, or perhaps even bigger, than the technical challenge.

Not the End of the World : How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet by Hannah Ritchie

In this bold, radically hopeful book, a data scientist, drawing on the latest research, practical guidance and eye-opening graphics, gives us the tools for understanding our current environmental crisis and making lifestyle changes that actually have an impact.

on the move

On the Move : The Overheating Earth and the Uprooting of America by Abrahm Lustgarten

As climate change begins to bite, long-predicted upheavals are underway. Journalist Lustgarten, begins with the usual bad news. Today, less than 1% of the planet is too hot to support civilization. By 2070, it will be 20%. Where will those people go? Tolerable living conditions in the U.S. “will jump dramatically northward,” with states along the Canadian border suffering the least damage. Sea levels have risen more than nine inches since 1960—and two feet in Louisiana, the worst-affected state, drowning a coastal area bigger than Delaware. Rapid global heating produces hot but also extremely unpredictable weather, and hurricanes, forest fires, and droughts have become routine. Traveling the nation, Lustgarten interviews experts and victims to paint a grim but fact-based picture. Responding to catastrophic losses, insurers who have not gone bankrupt have raised premiums or stopped issuing policies in certain areas.

Purified : How Recycled Sewage is Transforming Our Water by Peter Annin

Journalist Annin shows that wastewater has become a surprising weapon in America’s war against water scarcity. Annin probes deep into the water reuse movement in five water-strapped states–California, Texas, Virginia, Nevada, and Florida. He drinks beer made from purified sewage, visits communities where purified sewage came to the rescue, and examines how one of the nation’s largest wastewater plants hopes to recycle one hundred percent of its wastewater by 2035.  While the current filtration technology transforms sewage into something akin to distilled water–free of chemicals and safe to drink–water recycling’s challenge isn’t technology. It’s terminology. Concerns about communities being used as “guinea pigs,” sensationalist media coverage, and taglines like “toilet to tap” have repeatedly crippled water recycling efforts.

Sea Change : An Atlas of Islands In a Rising Ocean by Christina Gerhardt

Low-lying island nations are least responsible for global warming, but they are already suffering its impacts severely and disproportionately. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, island nations are responsible for 0.03% of global emissions. A weave of essays, maps, poems and illustrations, Sea Change presents the impacts of and solutions to sea level rise. An essay, drawing on interviews, scientific reports, academic scholarship and archival research, shares their histories, present-day challenges and efforts toward livable futures. A map shows the inundation zones. Poems breathe life into the analysis.

Slow Burn : the Hidden Costs of a Warming World by R. Jisung Park

Economist Park argues that what’s missing in the debate on climate change are answers to more practical questions: what climate change means for us and for our children, for the opportunities and livelihoods of our neighbors and friends, not 100 years from now, but right now. In his research, Park has quantified effects such as how when you take an exam on a 90 degree day in a building without working air conditioning, you will likely perform 10% to 15% worse than you would have on a day in the 60s; how if your job involves working outdoors, you’re 5% to 10% more likely to experience a serious injury at work if the temperature is above 95 degrees; how the returns on your retirement fund can fluctuate quarter to quarter depending on the number of heat waves in China or the temperature in lower Manhattan; and how trends in criminal activity and policing behavior in your neighborhood worsen on a hot day. 

Sustainable Wardrobe : Practical Advice and Projects For Eco-Friendly Fashion by Sophie Benson

From repurposing the clothes in your collection and shopping secondhand, to better maintenance so that your clothes last longer, fashion journalist Benson explains how you can take action through your fashion.

Total Garbage : How We Can Fix Our Waste and Heal our World by Edward Humes

Waste is truly our biggest problem, and solving our inherent trashiness can fix our economy, our energy costs, our traffic jams, and help slow climate change-all while making us healthier, happier and more prosperous. This story-driven and in-depth exploration of the pervasive yet hard-to-see wastefulness that permeates our daily lives illuminates the ways in which we’ve been duped into accepting absolutely insane levels of waste as normal. It also tells the story of individuals and communities who are finding the way back from waste, and showing us that our choices truly matter and make a difference. 

weight of nature

The Weight of Nature : How a Changing Climate Changes Our Brains by Clayton Page Aldern

A masterpiece of deeply reported, superb literary journalism, this book shows readers how a changing environment is changing us, today, from the inside out. Aldern calls it the weight of nature. Newly named mental conditions include: climate grief, ecoanxiety, environmental melancholia, pre-traumatic stress disorder. High-schoolers are preparing for a chaotic climate with the same combination of urgency, fear, and resignation they reserve for active-shooter drills. But mostly, as Aldern richly details, we don’t realize what global warming is doing to our brains. More heat means it is harder to think straight and solve problems. It influences serotonin release, which in turn increases the chance of impulsive violence. Air pollution from wildfires and smokestacks affects everything from sleeplessness to baseball umpires’ error rates. Immigration judges are more likely to reject asylum applications on hotter days. And these kinds of effects are not easily medicated, since certain drugs we might look to just aren’t as effective at higher temperatures. Heatwaves and hurricanes can wear on memory, language, and pain systems. Wildfires seed PTSD. And climate-fueled ecosystem changes extend the reach of brain-disease carriers like the mosquitos of cerebral-malaria fame, brain-eating amoebae, and the bats that brought us the mental fog of long Covid.

The War Below : Lithium, Copper, and the Global Battle to Power Our Lives by Ernest Scheyder

Tough choices loom if the world wants to go green. The United States and other countries must decide where and how to procure the materials that make our renewable energy economy possible. To build electric vehicles, solar panels, cell phones, and millions of other devices means the world must dig more mines to extract lithium, copper, cobalt, rare earths, and nickel. But mines are deeply unpopular, even as they have a role to play in fighting climate change. These tensions have sparked a worldwide reckoning over the sourcing of these critical minerals, and no one understands the complexities of these issues better than Scheyder, whose exclusive access has allowed him to report from the front lines on the key players in this global battle to power our future.

A Wing and a Prayer : the Race to Save our Vanishing Birds by Anders Gyllenhaal

Three years ago, headlines delivered shocking news: nearly three billion birds in North America have vanished over the past fifty years. No species has been spared, from the most delicate jeweled hummingbirds to scrappy black crows, from a rainbow of warblers to common birds such as owls and sparrows. For the past year, veteran journalists Anders and Beverly Gyllenhaal traveled more than 25,000 miles across the Americas, chronicling costly experiments, contentious politics, and new technologies to save our beloved birds from the brink of extinction. 

Year of No Garbage : Recycling Lies, Plastic Problems, and One Woman’s Trashy Journey to Zero Waste : A Memoir by Eve O Schaub

Convincing her husband and two daughters to go along with her, Schaub attempts the seemingly impossible: living in the modern world without creating any trash at all. For an entire year. And- as it turns out- during a pandemic. In the process, Schaub learns some startling things: that modern recycling is broken, and single stream recycling is a lie. That flushable wipes aren’t flushable and compostables aren’t compostable. That plastic drives climate change, fosters racism, and is poisoning the environment and our bodies at alarming rates, as microplastics are being found everywhere, from the top of Mount Everest to the placenta of unborn babies.

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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