Recommended Books on Climate Change and the Environment

1. 39 Ways to Save the Planet. Tom Heap. Penguin Random House:

In Ireland the average annual domestic electricity consumption for heating, lighting and appliances is 4,200 kWh.

For Ireland, the electricity in the grid comes from a mixture of renewable sources (43%), mainly wind, and fossil fuels (Gas, Oil, Coal) and Interconnector for the remainder 57%. This means on average each unit of electricity, kWh consumed in Ireland  produces 0.31 Kg CO2e ( this compares to the EU average 0.25 KgCO2e). This carbon footprint of each kWh is termed  the Carbon Intensity, and its varies with each country in Europe (and the world). For example, Sweden which uses hydro and nuclear energy sources for its electricity supply, its carbon intensity is 0.012 Kg CO2e.

Therefore, the electricity carbon footprint of the average Irish household is:

4,200 kWh X 0.31 Kg/kWh CO2e = 1, 302 Kg CO2e = 1.3 Tonnes CO2e.

Reducing the central heating thermostat by 1C in the winter will save about 500 kWh in electricity, approximately €100 in costs and of 150Kg CO2e.

If all 1.2 million family households in Ireland, reduce their thermostats by 1°C  in the winter, Ireland’s GHG emissions would reduce by almost 200,000 Tonnes CO2e per year. A huge saving for the price of wearing a wooly jumper instead of a T-shirt inside your house.

2. A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future. David Attenborough. Penguin Random House.

Sir David Attenborough at his best (when is he never). His life of passion and concern for the environment and nature illuminates this book. Thought provoking. With science and the wisdom of over 50 years as an eminent naturalist  investigating the changing ecological  scene around the world, he speaks clearly on the actions that are needed to restore the wonderful world  we have inherited. An easy and inspiring read.

ISBN -10: 1538719983

ISBN-13: 978-1538719985

3. How To Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need. Bill Gates. Allen Lane.

Bill Gates gives a no nonsense account on where we are on the path to environmental disaster. However, drawing on his experience as an entrepreneur and knowledge of technology and innovation he lays out a practical plan for achieving the goal of zero carbon emissions. While the plan is not easy it is within our scope. Easy to read and authoritative.


ISBN-13: 978-0241448304

ISBN-10: 0241448301

4. The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to the Climate Crisis. Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac. Manilla Press.

The authors Christiana Figueres, UN Executive Secretary for Climate Change and Tom Rivett-Carnac senior strategist for the Paris agreement are co-founders of Global Optimism ( Practical and optimistic. Discover why there is hope for the planet and how we can each make a difference. Easy and empowering.

ISBN-10: 1786580373

ISBN-13: 978-1786580375

5. There Is No Planet B. Mike Berners-Lee. Cambridge University Press.

Mike Berners-Lee is a professor in the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University. The whole book is in the form of questions. Topics include Food, Climate, Environment, Transport, Business, Economy and skills for the future. You can dip into it at random, or to answer a specific question by scanning the contents or index. Very comprehensive and analytical with extensive references. A handbook and toolkit on how humanity, business and society can survive and thrive and save the planet. It asks challenging questions that humanity must answer to avoid a climate and environmental catastrophe, and gives insights to the solutions.

ISBN-10: 978-1108821575

ISBN-13: 110882157X

6. How To Save Our Planet: The Facts. Mark Maslin. Penguin Life.

Mark Maslin is Professor of Earth System Science at University College London. Literally a book of one sentence facts on how we originated as a species, the history of humanity, the environmental state of the world today, how to confront climate deniers, the role of organisations and governments in the sustainability, and finally what we must do to save the planet. Keep it you back pocket, ready to learn a fact or use in debate.

ISBN-10: 0241472520

ISBN-13: 978-0241472521


7. What’s Really Happening To Our Planet ?: The Facts Simply Explained. Tony Juniper. DK, Penguin Random House.

Written by leading sustainability expert Dr Tony Juniper. A very comprehensive review of the major global sustainability issues ranging from global population growth, urban and economic expansion, energy and food production, climate change, biodiversity depletion and the great decline, the changing ocean, waste and pollution to the future sustainable solutions. What makes the information and facts in the book so easy to absorb and understand  is the extensive use of clear and simple graphs, tables, captions and diagrams. A multitude of topics are covered in two pages segments making it very easy to dip into or browse.

ISBN-10: 0241240425

ISBN-13: 978-0241240427

8. Earthshot: How to Save Our Planet. Colin Butfield, Jonnie Hughes. John Murray Publ.

In 2018, HRH Prince William inaugurated the Earthshot prize through the Royal Foundation. The annual prize will recognise over the next decade, outstanding work addressing any of the five great challenges, Earthshots: Protect and Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans, Build a Waste-Free World and Fix Our Climate. The core tenet of the prize is that the combination of Urgency and Optimism leads to Action and the book looks at the actions and successes of numerous individuals and projects around the world in the context of the Earthshots that are making significant positive impacts on society, the economy and the environment.

ISBN-10: 1529388627

ISBN-13: 978-1529388626

9. The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change. Robert Henson. AMS Books.


Robert Henson is a meteorologist and writer at The Weather Company ( )  and contributing editor to the Weatherwise magazine. This book reviews, explains and condenses the research and conclusions of the world’s most authoritative  and respected organisations and experts in the fields of climatology and oceanography which irrefutably demonstrates the human causes and effects of climate change. Scientifically up-to-date it cuts through mystery and “fake news” to the facts. While it is very much science-based, it is nevertheless still very engaging and readable.

ISBN-10: 1944970398

ISBN-13: 978-1944970390


10. Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know. Joseph     Oxford University Press.

Dr Joseph Romm is Chief Science Advisor for National Geographic’s Years of Living Dangerously series and one of Rolling Stone’s “100 people who are changing America”. The book offers user-friendly, scientifically rigorous answers to the most difficult questions on climate change and the importance of clean energy. It adopts a question and answer style in its delivery of the science and facts and discusses the dangers of the politicisation and disinformation tactics of the science by climate deniers.

11. Drawdown The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming. Paul Hawken Editor. Penguin

An international coalition of leading researchers, scientists and policymakers have produced this book offering a collection of 100 viable and practical solutions to climate change. Each solution is assessed in terms of the global carbon reduction it would achieve and its economic cost savings by 2050. The facts and projections demonstrate that if all solutions were enacted, not only would they significantly reduce GHG emissions but within thirty years, GHG would decline and  global warming would be reversed.

ISBN-10: 9780143130444

ISBN-13: 978-0143130444

12. Ireland’s Green Opportunity: Driving Investment in a Low-Carbon Economy. Peter Brennan. Orpen Press.

Dr Peter Brennan is an expert in relation to climate change and EU policy development. This book is unique in giving an overview of the opportunities for the Irish green economy in a low-carbon era. It is an informative source for students, businesses, investors and policymakers designed to stimulate debate, and awareness about the business potential in the Irish market and the U.K, U.S and other major markets.

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