In alphabetical order, here are 25 books in the Green Market Oracle’s back to school reading list. The books on this list address a wide range of subjects related to sustainability, climate change and the environment. These books are focused on business, nature, the economy, policy and design. Anyone who reads all 25 of these books is sure to be well informed. Readers can expect to understand the science behind the Earth’s degradation as well as needed environmental and social actions.
Without further ado here are the 25 Books on the Green Market Oracle’s well informed reading list
A Rich Spot of Earth – Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello by Peter Hatch
A Rich Spot of Earth is packed with nearly 200 rich, full color images of Thomas Jefferson’s famous gardens at Monticello. Between the images Peter Hatch, Monticello’s master gardener, shares his experiences raising Jefferson’s favorite fruits, vegetables, and flowers over 3 decades. The author explores topics ranging from labor in the garden, garden pests of the time, and seed saving practices to contemporary African American gardens. He also discusses Jefferson’s favorite vegetables and the hundreds of varieties he grew, the half-Virginian half-French cuisine he developed, and the gardening traditions he adapted from many other countries.
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
A Sand County Almanac is a wonderful book about conservation and the need for a human conscience toward the use of land. The first twelve chapters are great descriptions of nature and the way plants and animals interact with each other for survival. The following chapters are about different places that the narrator has visited, and he takes the reader through amazing journeys through his memories. Land ethic is the main argument of this book. It states that people should care less about what they can gain monetarily from the land and more about what they can gain in the long run from engaging in long-term sustainability of it.
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
This book was inspired by a series of multimedia presentations on global warming that former Vice President of the United States Al Gore created and currently delivers to groups around the world. In An Inconvenient Truth, Gore writes about the urgent need to solve the problems of climate change, presenting graphs and information on all aspects of global warming in a direct, thoughtful and compelling way. This book is great for those who prefer a visual style of learning. It’s packed full of pictures and diagrams that help bring complex concepts to light.
But Will The Planet Notice – How Smart Economics Can Save the World by Gernot Wagner
You are one of seven billion people on Earth. Whatever you or I do personally—eat tofu in a Hummer or hamburgers in a Prius—the planet doesn’t notice. In our confrontation with climate change, it is what several billion people do that makes a difference. The solution? In his first published book, But Will The Planet Notice? EDF’s lead senior economist Gernot Wagner makes the argument that it isn’t science, politics, or activism. It’s smarter economics.
Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis by Dr. John J. Berger
An excellent primer on the causes and effects of climate change. This easily understood work of enormous scope and depth tackles difficult questions head-on. This includes questions like: Can the world avoid overloading the air with greenhouse gases? Can society make the vast changes in energy and land use needed to protect our climate? Vividly evoking the looming hazards of a warmer world, the book shows that climate change is already a planetary emergency which, if unchecked, will harm our health, economy, and Earth’s life support systems. Based on the latest climate science, Climate Peril reveals that these climate change impacts are far worse—and more imminent—than many realize. Climate Peril shows why steep and unprecedented—yet affordable—cuts in greenhouse gases are needed now to avert a global climate catastrophe.
Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael BraungartCradle-to-Cradle-book-cover
One of the key premises of McDonough and Brangart’s Cradle to Cradle is that minimizing waste just isn’t good enough. Instead, the authors propose that we change our entire design processes so that reuse and nourishment are built right into the process. Instead of minimizing waste, we create value. Moving from a Cradle-to-Grave philosophy to a Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy requires a move from eco-efficient to eco-effective.
DDT Wars – Rescuing Our National Bird, Preventing Cancer, and Creating the Environmental Defense Fund by Charles Wurster
DDT Wars is the story of one of the most notable environmental legislation victories of the twentieth century: the fight to ban DDT from use as a pesticide. During the 1950s and 60s, scientists were discovering that widespread use of the pesticide DDT was leading to the decline of many species of predatory birds, and was a major factor in causing cancer and reproductive defects in humans. In 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency banned the substance, thanks to the grassroots movement led by a group of ten scientists who created Environmental Defense Fund. Written by Charles Wurster, one of EDF’s founding members, the book also serves as EDF’s origin story.
Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben
In Eaarth, McKibben presents an array of facts and statistics about changes that are already visible in the world around us, supported by extensive footnotes. “Eaarth” is the name McKibben has decided to assign both to his book and to the planet formerly known as Earth. His point is a fresh one that brings the reader uncomfortably close to climate change. Earth with one “a,” according to McKibben, no longer exists. We have carbonized it out of existence. Two-a Eaarth is now our home. On two-a Eaarth, we are way past the bearable threshold — 350 parts per million — for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, and well down the road to a devastating 650 parts per million. Our hope depends, McKibben argues, on scaling back—on building the kind of societies and economies that can hunker down, concentrate on essentials, and create the type of community (in the neighborhood, but also on the Internet) that will allow us to weather trouble on an unprecedented scale. Change—fundamental change—is our best hope on a planet out of balance.
GREEN GIANTS: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses by E. Freya Williams
Through original research and exclusive interviews, Williams has pinpointed six factors or traits that “Green Giants” have in common that account for their uncommon success and that set them apart from the first generation of green companies and their cautionary talesA decade ago, sustainability and anything green were all the rage in business until skepticism about the cost to profits got it shunted aside to the CSR department. Today, a new generation of green 2.0 companies have learned from the mistakes of their predecessors and are proving the skeptics wrong by converting sustainability into billion dollar brands. Natura, Chipotle, the Toyota Prius and Tesla Motors (as well as IKEA, Whole Foods, Unilever, GE’s Ecomagination and Nike Flyknit) each earn more than $1 billion in annual revenue from a product or service with sustainability or social good at its core—not kale, but everything from airplane engines to shoes to cars and much more. These are not alternative companies catering to the granola set and trying to compete with the big boys. These are the big boys that every other company is now trying to compete with.
Greener Products: The Making and Marketing of Sustainable Brands by Al Iannuzzi
This book offers a detailed and persuasive case for incorporating sustainability into your business model. Examining both the making and the marketing of green products, his writing is firmly situated in the language of business — making it a useful resource for both business leaders and students alike. Iannuzzi’s message is rooted in two core truths that we believe in strongly. First, there is no such thing as a truly green product.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America by Thomas Friedman
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America’s urgent need for national renewal and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America. Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a dangerously unstable planet–one that is “hot, flat, and crowded.” The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy. And it could inspire Americans to something we haven’t seen in a long time–nation-building in America–by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources.
Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga by Joe Romm
This book addresses ways of sharing science with the public. Romm covers everything about effective communication, from the critical importance of metaphors (especially extended metaphors), language simplicity, repetition, using figures of speech, creating anticipation through foreshadowing, and other persuasive rhetorical techniques. As Romm explains so well, the key to effective writing is to engage the reader’s emotions, and work to inspire and activate your audience through honest and powerful communication.
Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester Brown
As fossil fuel prices rise, oil insecurity deepens, and concerns about climate change cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new energy economy is emerging. Wind, solar, and geothermal energy are replacing oil, coal, and natural gas, at a pace and on a scale we could not have imagined even a year ago. For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, we have begun investing in energy sources that can last forever. Plan B 4.0 explores both the nature of this transition to a new energy economy and how it will affect our daily lives.
Planning Sustainability: The Implications of Sustainability for Public Planning Policy by Michael Kenny
Environmental sustainability has become one of the most salient issues on the policy agenda of nation-states. This book argues that planning is seldom credited by advocates of environmental politics. The authors, leading scholars in the field, explore the relationship between environmental sustainability – one of the most important innovations in recent political discourse and planning, an idea which has slipped from public attention recently.
Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux
Deep inside, most employees and leaders sense that there must be more soulful and purposeful ways to run our organizations, says Frederic Laloux, a former Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company. Surrounded by the constant politics, bureaucracy, infighting and stress of today’s workplace, we know we can do better. Laloux has written this book for those that believe in a better way. Based on extensive research, the book tells the story of the emergence of a new management paradigm – a completely new way to structure and operate organizations. Laloux explains how throughout the course of history there have been a number of leaps in management thinking, and he offers a convincing and comprehensive description of the next wave that is just emerging. He identified and studied 12 pioneer organizations that have already “cracked the code” of this next wave. From Patagonia to Morning Star, from AES to Sun Hydraulics, from a visiting nurse organization in Belgium to a school in Germany to a metal manufacturer in France, the founders of these wide-ranging organizations have already fundamentally questioned every aspect of management and come up with entirely new organizational methods. It is most exciting that – while from different industries, geographies, and unaware of each other’s experiments – the structures and practices they have developed are remarkably similar. A new organizational model seems to be emerging, and it promises a soulful revolution in the workplace.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Every once in a while a book comes along that has such a profound effect on society that it creates a movement for awareness and change. Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, is one of those. Silent Spring discusses the dangers of pesticide use, specifically focusing on the use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). It methodically described how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals, including human beings, causing cancer and genetic damage. A single application on a crop, she wrote, killed insects for weeks and months, and not only the targeted insects but countless more, remaining toxic in the environment even after it was diluted by rainwater. The most important legacy of Silent Spring was a new public awareness that nature was vulnerable to human intervention. Conservation had never raised much broad public interest, for few people really worried about the disappearance of wilderness. But the threats Carson had outlined — the contamination of the food chain, cancer, genetic damage, the deaths of entire species — were too frightening to ignore. For the first time, the need to regulate industry in order to protect the environment became widely accepted, and environmentalism was born.
Sustainable Innovation Strategy: Creating Value in a World of Finite Resources by Christophe Sempels, Jonas Hoffmann
As the world’s resources are running out, sustainability issues will drive large strategy shifts for many organizations in the near future. Businesses need to explore how profit and value can be generated from sustainable innovations in their commercial offerings. This is both an ethical and an essential strategy in a global economy still reliant on increasingly limited resources. Sustainable Innovation Strategy is a thought-provoking and timely book which examines the links between sustainable development, innovation strategy and the business model. Through insightful case studies from mature and developing markets, the authors show
The Climate War – True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth By Eric Pooley
In The Climate War, EDF’s Senior Vice President for Strategy and Communications, Eric Pooley—former deputy editor of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, managing editor of Fortune, and chief political correspondent for Time—does for global warming what Bob Woodward did for presidents and Lawrence Wright did for terrorists. In this epic tale of an American civil war, Pooley takes us behind the scenes and into the hearts and minds of the most important players in the struggle to cap global warming pollution—a fight in which trillions of dollars and the fate of the planet are at stake.
The EarthKeeper: Undeveloping the Future by Adam C. Hall
Adam C. Hall achieved the American Dream in all its glory and then woke-up to the nightmare of his own life condition. Once a financial power broker and real-estate developer, Adam undertook a life-changing metamorphosis that would ultimately alter his mind-set from Earth Conqueror to Earth Keeper.To come this far, Adam had to come to terms with the misery that was at the center of his very privileged and comfortable life. He endured the loss of all that he treasured most. It was only then
that he was finally able to open to discover the Creative Power of the Universe that is hidden within each of us.
The Outermost House by Henry Beston
The best nature-writing, it seems, brings together a place, a time, and a personality in such a way that, after we’ve read the book, the writer’s experience, and something of his or her personality, seems to be our own. In The Outermost House, Henry Beston presents a depiction of Cape Cod in the mid-1920s. Beston was in his mid-thirties when he stayed on the Cape in a cottage across from Salt Pond. His enjoyment led him to embark on plans for a little cottage of his own in the dunes. It was rumored that Beston may have gone to the beach to be alone and rid himself of the post-traumatic stress caused by his war experiences. Unlike Thoreau, he had no real agenda when he began his journey with nature (at least none that he ever went into detail about). His writings demonstrate the value of a simple, self-reliant lifestyle and showcase his interpretation of the natural world. The Outermost House benefited only from modest success at first; however, later on, Beston won several awards and honorary doctorates because of it. On October 11, 1964, the U.S. Department of the Interior created the Cape Cod National Seashore and declared The Outermost House a national literary landmark.
The Patagonia Business Library by Yvon Chouinard
This library including Let My People Go Surfing, The Responsible Company, and Patagonia’s Tools for Grassroots Activists Let My People Go Surfing (Revised and Updated), Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard lays out his business and environmental philosophies, which are the foundation of this always iconoclastic, visionary, and increasingly influential company. The Responsible Company and Patagonia’s Tools for Grassroots Activists present the practical applications, strategies and tools to execute those philosophies, in both the workplace, and in environmental organizations. Together the three books provide readers what they need to operate responsibly and effectively in both arenas today: business and activism.
The Social Contract with Business by Dr. Jopie Coetzee
For too long the social contract with business remained vague, unwritten, and suspect of undermining the profit motive of the firm, denying business leaders the richness of wisdom. From the lived-experiences of today’s global leaders in the West, East and South the Social Contract with Business was discovered as a business case to deliver sustained global sustainability. This book speaks to a new global agenda, a new mode of doing business as an organ of society; new wisdom, new success criteria, a new language, a new canon of business knowledge, and a new paradigm for business leadership education – the “Social Contract MBA”
The Sustainability Advantage by Bob Willard
Corporations are under increasing pressure from customers, investors, employees, legislators, banks, and insurance companies to embrace social and environmental responsibility. But Wall Street demands quarterly results, a stringent return on investment, and a short payback period. Up until now, there’s been very little evidence expressed in business language showing the benefits of the “triple bottom line” relevant to the short- and long-term priorities of senior executives. So how can these seemingly incompatible goals be accomplished at the same time? (see also The New Sustainability Advantage).
The Sustainable Edge: 15 Minutes a Week to a Richer Entrepreneurial Life by Ron Carson and Scott Ford
Today, entrepreneurs seem to think that being busy is a badge of honor. However, too many are busy building their business and forget to live their lives—this impacts their family, friends, faith, health and passions. What if there was a way to find a “passion that pays” and to be “busy” balancing your priorities? This book will says that creating a sustainable edge begins with identifying your major passions and priorities, and then building your life around them. We’ve all heard the expression about how no one wants their tombstone to say, “I wish I would have worked more!” Well, Carson and Ford are living proof that the sustainable edge not only means creating a business where you can fulfill your passions but it also having time for the three or four other things in life that are most important to you—like family, faith, health, hunting, art, sports, or otherwise. This thought-provoking book by two proven, entrepreneurial strategy experts, delivers an inspirational approach for addressing an entrepreneur’s core competencies, values, goals and vulnerabilities.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
In Walden, Henry David Thoreau sets out to live his life without distractions by a body of water known as Walden Pond. He did not aim to live cheaply; instead he wanted to spend time gaining insight from his own private solitude. He sought to live simpler than the average man of his time. Thoreau spends a great portion of the book discussing the differences between luxuries and necessities, including why he feels that a simpler life is a better life.
*Full Disclosure: I have been given complimentary copies of many of the books in this list.
Make sure to see the article titled, “Comprehensive Green School Information and Resources.” It contains links to over 325 articles covering everything you need to know about sustainable academics, student eco-initiatives, green school
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