Climate & Capital recommended vacation books 2024

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Climate & Capital recommended vacation books 2024

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Pull up a beach chair, read a book (or two) and make a difference

It’s the summer vacation season for many around the globe (winter break down under) – a time to reflect, turn off the work computer and take up a good book. As the U.S., U.K, France and many other countries head toward critical elections, it’s a good time to think about the issues that matter most to the world right now. Our Climate & Capital Media team has had a dive into a wide range of books we think are worth pulling up a beach chair for – or a cozy seat by the fire. These books explore climate change and the big related issues that will get you thinking, marveling and maybe even acting in ways that will make a difference for a liveable future. Enjoy! 


Not the End of the World

by Hannah Ritchie (Non-fiction)

We’re kicking off the reading list with – wait for it! – a POSITIVE take on how fast the world is making the changes needed to survive climate change, biodiversity loss and extreme weather. Forget the doom scrolling, fatalistic storytelling and all too limited mainstream media. Look at the numbers. This is Hannah Ritchie’s genius. A Scottish data scientist, senior researcher at Oxford and deputy editor at Our World in Data, Ritchie knows data like few others at a time when it’s needed the most. Yes, climate change impacts are already happening but she shows us examples of rapid changes made to address other wicked problems like severe damage to the ozone layer and acid rain. Collective international action, she ways, can bring rapid and impressive results. “When countries want to tackle it, with the right political will and investment, they can do it incredibly quickly,” Ritchie said. What’s needed to deliver change for a liveable planet? “A demanding citizenship, the money and political will.”

If you need a lift this holiday, read this one. Quite frankly, everyone should! 

(Podcast lovers, give a listen to Ritchie’s discussion about the book with New York Times podcaster Ezra Pound.)

 Blair Palese


Cheaper Faster Better

by Tom Steyer (Non-fiction)

Tom Steyer’s “Cheaper, Faster Better” is a bit too optimistic for my taste. But in an era of intense climate gloom, his manifesto on combating climate change is needed. Yes, it glosses over the harsh realities of the issue, but the advice is sound. We can balance the Earth’s atmosphere  we just need to burn a lot less carbon.

The book is full of human-interest stories that are meant to be inspiring but come across as a bit shallow and overly simplistic. The case studies are diverse, but they’re more like cherry-picked examples of success rather than a comprehensive look at the challenges we face.

That’s too bad. Steyer is a serious climate champion. I’m sure he was trying to write something accessible to all. And if so, it will help. But for people steeped in the movement, it’s not a call to action; it’s a pat on the back.

– Peter McKillop


Deep Water – The World in the Ocean

by James Bradley (Non-fiction)

Full disclosure: I not only know the wonderful Sydney-based author James Bradley (“Clade,” “Ghost Species”, “Beauty’s Sister), but I’m a big fan. His book “Deep Water” is a beautifully written take on the state of the oceans that also captures his personal love for them in a way that will resonate with many of us who share that love. Unlike Ritchie’s book, this one stings. The incredible and rapid changes we are inflicting on our oceans due to climate change, pollution and over-extraction is alarming when described in detail. Bradley also presents us with the sheer scale of what we’re losing. It’s a global battle unfolding now and it deserves our full attention.

(Podcast lovers can hear James talk about his book and what he calls the colonization of the oceans via The Garrett podcast.)

– Blair Palese


The Great Transition

by Nick Fuller Googins (Fiction)

Unlike other books on this list, which are set amid the climate crisis, this novel begins 16 years after “Day Zero,” the day the Earth’s carbon emissions reached zero. Though the climate crisis wreaked havoc on the world, a more hopeful civilization has emerged in its place, built on mutual aid and the outlawing of private corporations. The main character, Emi, is the teenage daughter of two heroes from “The Great Transition,” the name given to the epic struggle that saved their world in the last generation. Emi lives in a sunnier world than her parents at her age, but she still feels lonely and isolated, partly because her mother, Kristina, will not relax her vigilance and fears a backslide to the past. When Kristina goes missing after the assassination of a group of “climate criminals,” Emi and her father, Larch, head out on a search to find her, which in turn becomes a search to uncover Kristina’s secrets. The novel alternates between past and present, showing the struggles of the Transition and the difficult work of building a sustainable world in the aftermath.

– Barclay Palmer


Digital Gangsters – The Inside Story of How Greed, Lies and Technology Broke Democracy

by Ian Lucas (Non-fiction)

Ian Lucas was a key MP in the world-leading Parliamentary investigation that uncovered the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a Member of the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. A lawyer by training, Lucas represented Trevor Rees-Jones, the sole survivor of the car crash that killed Princess Diana. He says he left Parliament specifically to write “Digital Gangsters” and for that alone his book deserves a read. From unpublished sources and his own experience, Lucas details how the exploitation of social media was key to the outcome of the UK’s Brexit Referendum and the election of Donald Trump. He carefully lays out the impact new, online politics and social media are having in inflaming populism, division and violence. Most importantly, Lucas provides us with the steps he believes we must take to rebuild and protect the political systems that govern us. 

– Blair Palese


Vigil Harbor

by Julia Glass (Fiction)

In “Vigil Harbor,” Julia Glass’ sprawling novel skillfully weaves a complex narrative set in a small, affluent coastal town in Massachusetts in the 2030s. The novel’s intricate plot is told through the voices of nine narrators, each with their own secrets and struggles. Despite the town’s relative safety from rising sea levels, the residents of Vigil Harbor are not immune to the turmoil of the outside world. Eco-terrorism, mysterious strangers, and the weight of their own anxieties all threaten to disrupt their lives.

Glass’s ambitious novel tackles the climate crisis with a deeply human approach, exploring the hopes, regrets, and uncertainties of people living through unprecedented times. With its vivid characters, suspenseful storylines, and thought-provoking themes, “Vigil Harbor” is a compelling and timely read.

– Peter McKillop


Into the Clear Blue Sky

by Rob Jackson (Non-fiction) 

Do you have friends and family asking you what they can do on climate? Here is one simple answer to start. Read “Into the Clear Blue Sky” by Rob Jackson, who is also chair of the Global Carbon Project. This visionary book serves as a handbook for reducing one’s carbon footprint and inspiring others to do the same. With a clear and accessible approach, Jackson demonstrates that every incremental step counts in the fight against climate change. Add it all up, and Jackson says it can be done. “Restoring methane to preindustrial levels would save 0.5°C of warming and could happen in your lifetime  and mine,” Jackson said.

– Peter McKillop



by Allegra Hyde (Fiction)

This first novel by Hyde tracks the journey of a young woman named Willa who is abruptly thrust into independence when her survivalist parents commit suicide. She navigates a world increasingly rocked by climate change, starting out in Boston, where a relationship with a Harvard professor draws her into a community and a commitment to environmental causes. But betrayal and heartbreak prompt her to abandon this life. Ultimately she is drawn to a utopian compound – Camp Hope – on the Bahamian island of Eleutheria (named after the Greek goddess of liberty). Under the leadership of the charismatic Roy Adams, the compound is committed to fighting climate change and “living the solution.” But things are complicated in utopia – there is a cult-like vibe and mystery when Adams disappears after a major storm clobbers the island. Willa’s challenge is to remain true to her ideals despite flawed and disappointing humans while navigating a path through an earth in crisis.

Kari Huus


The Great Displacement: Climate Change and the Next American Migration

by Jake Bittle (Non-fiction)

Even as we confront the effects of climate change, many of us still think it’s a distant problem that, one day, will lead to millions of people migrating around the world, fleeing famine and rising seas. In truth, climate change impacts are already visible in the U.S. Across the country, climate disasters are pushing thousands of people away from their homes. “The Great Displacement” by Jake Bittle tells the stories of those already enduring life as climate refugees, and shows how drastically climate change will alter all of our lives – erasing historic towns and villages, pushing people into new areas of the country, and reshaping the geography of America.

 Ethan Berg


Land of Milk and Honey

by C. Pam Zhang (Fiction)

This new novel by C. Pam Zhang (author of the Booker-nominated “How Much of These Hills Is Gold”) tells the story of a talented chef in a world not only impacted by climate change but also a planet-wide smog released as agricultural experiments. Our chef – never named – flees her dystopian surroundings for a job at Utopia: a lush, privileged research facility in the Italian Alps run by a wealthy capitalist and his geneticist daughter, Aida. Together, he and Aida have created a secret biobank, a space to let nature flourish and research a new, sustainable future for the human species. Our chef is seduced by the incredible setting and swept into an affair with Aida. As secrets in the compound begin to surface and she cooks for the hypocritical rich, her new privileges start to feel hollow, and she is drawn into deeper moral complications. Zhang’s novel asks complex questions in the midst of the climate crisis: What is the space for pleasure and the body as the world collapses around us? 

 Blair Palese


Warming Up: How Climate Change is Changing Sport

by Madeleine Orr (Non-fiction)

Just in time for the Summer Olympics, Madeleine Orr’s book looks at the many ways climate change and its resulting extreme weather is impacting everything from skiing and tennis to golf and soccer. Orr is a world-leading sports ecologist – who knew? – who provides an alarming number of examples of what’s already happening around the world and what it means not only for elite athletes but all of us who exercise. The Qatar World Cup saw hundreds – maybe thousands – of heat-induced deaths before the first teams took the field. A recent Australian tennis open saw play suspended and players collapse due to heat and smoke from the country’s drought-induced fires. The climate threat to sport is real and happening right now. Orr offers useful ways to mitigate the impacts and practical ideas for how the sports world can fight back. 

Blair Palese


Slow burn – the Hidden Cost of a Warming World

by R. Jisung Park (Non-fiction)

Extreme heat, out-of-control fires and catastrophic floods are the climate change tropes of news headlines about climate change everywhere. R. Jisung Park suggests we consider focusing less on single devastating events and more on the everyday effects of a warming world for people to really understand the risk and costs. Looking at the impacts that rising temperatures already have on people’s lives worldwide can provide a sound economic rationale for making emissions reductions.

Using new data and new economic thinking, Park shows how climate change headlines often miss the most important costs. From health impacts of smoke and heat to impacts on infrastructure, Park makes a compelling case for the need to understand the slow and highly unequal impacts of climate change around the world. He is ultimately optimistic about why and how we should address climate change and “view [it] with sober resolve, compassion for those most vulnerable and a sense of active hope.”

Blair Palese

Written by

Climate & Capital Team

Our team aims to lead in the vibrant conversation taking place among entrepreneurs, climate scientists, investors, NGOs, policymakers and corporate leaders around climate change. What’s driving that discussion is a shared realization that building a sustainable future is both a moral imperative and an economic opportunity with potentially exponential returns for our portfolios and most importantly, our planet.