Record cold, mudslides, hurricanes, forest fires that won’t end – the weather has only been getting more and more extreme in recent years. And with the threat of global warming hanging over all of us, it’s only going to get worse. While some are still denying that climate change is even happening, the world around us is changing at a rate so rapidly that it’s often difficult to keep up. In times like this, it’s always helpful to turn to literature to look for answers. From describing why our world is getting hotter, to envisioning what a global warming-affected future looks like, books can provide answers, hope, or wake us up to a much needed dose of reality. Here are seven books that will shed some light on our current climate and on what to expect in the coming years.

The Water Will Come, Jeff Goodell

Terrifying and informative, The Water Will Come is a comprehensive, global look at what will happen when the ice melts and the water rises. Goodell traveled the world to study how the melting ice caps have already started affecting our planet, how different countries are preparing for the coming disaster, and what will become of our world once we’re facing a crisis the likes of which we’ve never seen before. You might not be able to sleep much after reading this thorough investigative report, but you will learn a lot about our current environmental status and the water that will come whether we like it or not.

A Farewell to Ice, Peter Wadhams


Scientist Peter Wadhams is the world’s leading expert on sea ice, and according to his findings, things aren’t looking great. Our polar ice caps will most likely be melted by the middle of this century (or even sooner), creating a world that is unrecognizable from the one we live in today. Wadhams has been studying ice and how it forms since the ‘70s, and over the last three decades he’s had a front-row seat to a thawing that is happening more rapidly than almost anyone could have predicted. This is another book that will probably keep you up at night, but it’s also packed full of statistics and science that’s impossible to ignore.

While Glaciers Slept, M Jackson

Part personal account and part scientific exploration, While Glaciers Slept weaves together the story of Jackson’s own family crisis and the consequences of our declining climate. She recounts the story of her parents’ struggle with cancer and how we come to terms with a climate that is more unpredictable than ever. She also dives into the science of what we’re facing, while also refusing to give up hope about possible solutions. If the first two book on this list left you reeling, then While Glaciers Slept will both move you and you leave you with the sense that maybe not all is lost (or at least not yet).

The Fate of Rome, Kyle Harper

How does a seemingly powerful nation suddenly fall into ruins? The Fate of Rome, Harper’s in-depth assessment of the final days of Rome, will tell you exactly what went wrong. Turns out they were facing climate issues too, with volcanoes, illness, and unpredictable climate patterns that helped lead to their eventual fall. It’s a stark portrait of how quickly a civilization can lose order when the climate isn’t stable. If we want to understand how our political and global relations may change in the coming years, Harper’s nonfiction narrative is a great example to learn from.

Dangerous Years, David W. Orr

Both hopeful and harrowing, Dangerous Years highlights the realities of how climate change will affect civilization in the coming years. Author Orr specifically dives into the idea of sustainability, and if there’s a way for people to band together in order to survive the degradation of our current climate. The good news: there is. The bad news: it’s going to be a long, hard road. But there is a possible path, and Orr expertly lays out what that is, showing how exactly communities can come together to begin to enact change.

The Future of Humanity, Michio Kaku


More good news – we can always take to space! Physicist Kaku points out the necessities of space colonization in the coming years, and outlines the possible ways in which it could soon become a reality. From terraforming Mars to nanoship technology, The Future of Humanity is expansive and uplifting, letting us see the true possibilities of life beyond our planet. If climate change makes it impossible to live on this earth, there might still be hope for humanity after all.

Soonish, Kelly & Zach Weinersmith

For a little lighter reading, try Soonish, a fun and intelligent look at new technologies that are being developed every day. Cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith combine their powers to imagine where technology is taking us in the near future. This includes things like programmable matter, crazy advancements in medicine, asteroid mining and more. But the Weinersmith team looks beyond the possibilities to imagine how these new inventions would truly affect civilization – both the negatives and the positives. Soonish will make you laugh, learn, and might even give you a little hope for the future.


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