Here are 7 books Australian climate change scientists recommend you read

By Angela Heathcote 16 September 2019
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Put these books on your spring reading list.

Sunburnt Country: The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia by Joëlle Gergis

Recommendations from the Climate Council’s Professor Lesley Hughes and Will Steffen, and University of Melbourne lecturer Andrew King

“It’s an unusual book in that it manages to pack in a large amount of our scientific knowledge on past and future Australian climate change, but at the same time it’s written in such a way as to be understandable to all audiences with an interest in the subject but without a scientific background,” says Andrew.

“It’s comprehensive but at the same time easy to read,” says Lesley. 

“Joëlle Gergis takes us on a journey into Australia’s climatic past, to times much earlier than our century-long instrumental records can track, and into an uncertain and disturbing future, where greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly pushing Australia – and the rest of the world –  into climatic ‘terra incognita’,” says Will.

Rusted Off  by Gabrielle Chan and One Hundred Years of Dirt by Rick Morton

Recommendations from UNSW senior lecturer Sophie Lewis

“These gave me such an intimate perspective about peoples’ lives in remote and regional Australia,” says Sophie.

“I got a much greater sense that for many people it was not a do or don’t care about or believe in climate change. I got a great sense of the immediate concerns of people and how climate change might be one part of this experience.

“More directly on climate change, I found Anna Krien’s quarterly essay The Long Goodbye gripping.”

Storms of My Grandchildren:The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity by James Hansen

Recommendations from the Climate Council’s Will Steffen

“Jim Hansen is one of the world’s leading climate scientists,” Will says.

“In this book, he uses his vast knowledge to paint a very credible picture of a human-driven disaster that takes the climate system over a global tipping point and into a much different, more difficult world – all in the lifetime of today’s grandchildren.”

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway

Recommendations from climate scientist John Church

“This book exposes the misinformation campaign of a small group who have negatively influenced major environmental issues,” says John. “The insight is very instructive as to the real source of counterfactual arguments. A great book for the general reader.” 

He also recommends looking out for Naomi Klein’s new book, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal.

Facing Climate Change: An Integrated Path to the Future by Jeffrey Kiehl

Recommendation from climate scientist and author Joëlle Gergis

“I love this book as it’s written by a fellow climate scientist who is also a trained Jungian psychologist,” says Joëlle.

“This beautifully insightful book provides a meditation on our connection to the natural world. He explains that we need to connect our head with our heart to really heal our relationship with the planet.

“While I was writing Sunburnt Country: The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia, I kept a quote from this book right near my computer screen: ‘I do not become less of a scientist by opening my heart to the world. I become more whole. I embody a source of wisdom resting in each of us’. 

 “It reminded me that it was okay to be moved by the material I was writing. Being a scientist does not exempt you from having an emotional response. It was a reminder that it is deeply human to care about the things that really matter.” 

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines by Michael Mann

Recommendation from climate scientist and author Joëlle Gergis

“Mike Mann’s book is a testament to the resilience of the scientists working on the front lines of climate change,” says Joëlle. 

“Mann has probably faced more vitriolic attacks, death threats and legal harassment than anyone else in our field. This is his personal account of the ordeal he faced after the publication of his seminal work that reconstructed the Earth’s long-term temperature history for the first time. 

“Mann’s research became such an iconic symbol of the clear imprint of human activity on the planet’s climate system. So much so, that he became relentlessly targeted by climate change sceptics looking to discredit his work.

“This book is a clear and patiently laid out journey through some of the complexities of fundamental climate science, while rationally explaining the forces that have sought to politicise and derail our field. It helps the reader understand how science actually works and why the stakes are so high. 

“It’s a sobering look behind the curtain of what it is really like to be a climate scientist during this very fraught time in human history.”