Whether you are just getting started in your clean energy or sustainability career or you have working for years, it is important to keep up to date on what is happening in the business. If you are signed up for the email list, you know that ever week I include recommended articles, but if you are like me, sometimes you just want a good book. Over the course of my career and life as a reader, there are a couple of books that have helped me along the way which I like to recommend.
Please note that I use affiliate links on this website and may receive compensation if you purchase using these links. If you want to support me, but none of these book appeal to you, you can buy other books through my bookshop at bookshop.org/shop/EdsCleanJobs and I will receive a small commission. I recommend a couple of other books there, both fiction and non-fiction.
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken (editor). If you are trying to find your place in the world of climate solutions, this is a good place to look. This book is a collection of solutions to the climate crisis, and may give you an idea of how and where you may wish to contribute your talents.
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis. Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson. An inspiring book about dealing with the emotional impacts of the climate crisis and inspiration for doing the hard work to get us through it.
The book that started it all for me is Getting Green Done by Auden Schendler. Before I started my sustainability career path, I lived in the mountains of Colorado and spent most of my free time snowboarding or mountain biking. This is relevant, because Schendler is the Sustainability Director for Aspen Ski Company. When I first started down this path, I hoped to land a similar position. While my goals have changed, this book will always be meaningful to me.
Another foundational text for anyone who wants to work in this space is Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era by Amory Lovins. Amory founded the Rocky Mountain Institute along with Hunter Lovins. Lovins is often credited with inventing the term “negawatt” which is short hand for energy use avoided thanks to energy efficiency.
Hunter Lovins co-authored Natural Capitalism, along with Paul Hawken and Amory Lovins. This book was often cited by Interface founder Ray Anderson as inspiring him to fundamentally change the way his company did business.
Ray Anderson authored Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist. This is a great book for anyone who is interested in corporate sustainability. Anderson was the CEO of Interface Carpet, now renowned as a sustainability leader due to his leadership of the company.
If none of those books interest you, here are a couple of others that I’ve found useful:
Superpower: One Man’s Quest to Transform American Energy by Russell Gold. For those interested in renewable energy development and the transmission lines that must be built to connect it to the load centers.
For climate fiction, I’m a huge fan of Kim Stanley Robinson. His Ministry for the Future starts out in the near future and very darkly, but offers a hopeful perspective in the end. It applies some of the technological, cultural, and economic ideas of his earlier works to a modern-ish day earth grappling with the implications of climate change. His Hugo Award winning Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) explores the technology and ethics of terraforming Mars. This is one of Robinson’s early works and he eventually turns away from the vision of exploring the solar system to focusing on the impact of climate change here on Earth. The Mars Trilogy offers an interesting exploration of alternatives to capitalism, and looks at how technology might evolve. Themes from the Mars Trilogy repeat in his later works, which are focused on Earth. New York 2140 explores what life in a flooded New York City might look like for its residents. I found the book interesting for applying some of Robinson’s ideas about technological adaptations to climate change to life in 22nd century New York, but I don’t think it is his best work.