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December 1, 2022

Christmas Climate Book Club Special

What climate books do you want for Christmas? Listen in to find out where to start on picking out those stocking fillers.

In this special episode, Jo reunites with William McDonnell to discuss their top picks of climate books across all genres, from climate science to politics and economics, covering fiction and non-fiction. Although its light-hearted, there’s a deadly serious point: given the urgency of the climate crisis, we need to educate ourselves on the nature of the problem and the solutions at hand. Books offer a wonderful opportunity to learn much more about the challenges we face to build up a holistic view of risks that we value so much at GARP.

With so many excellent books out there, we hope this episode offers a guide, whether it’s for expanding your own library of climate-related books or simply finding the perfect gift. And remember – as they say about dogs – a book is for life, not just for Christmas.


If you enjoyed this episode and would like to give us feedback, please let us know at climateriskpodcast@garp.com.


Books mentioned in today’s discussion (in broad categories)

Understanding the problem

  1. Six Degrees: Our Future on A Hotter Planet – Mark Lynas
  2. The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future – David Wallace-Wells
  3. The Burning Question: We Can't Burn Half the World's Oil, Coal and Gas. So How Do We Quit? – Mike Berners-Lees and Duncan Clark
  4. There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years – Mike Berners-Lees
  5. The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene – Simon L. Lewis and Mark Maslin
  6. Climate Chaos: Lessons on Survival from Our Ancestors – Brian M. Fagan and Nadia Durrani
  7. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
  8. The Great Leveller: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century – Walter Scheidel

How did we get here?

  1. Losing Earth: The Decade We Could Have Stopped Climate Change – Nathaniel Rich
  2. Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity – James Hanson
  3. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming – Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes
  4. The New Climate War: The fight to take back our planet – Michael E. Mann

Climate economics

  1. Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist – Kate Raworth
  2. Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet – Tim Jackson
  3. Net Zero: How We Stop Causing Climate Change – Dieter Helm
  4. Measuring What Counts: The Global Movement for Well-Being – Joseph Stiglitz

Risk psychology

  1. Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change – George Marshall
  2. Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

Climate and nature fiction

  1. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  2. The Ministry for the Future – Kim Stanley Robinson
  3. Green Earth – Kim Stanley Robinson
  4. The Overstory – Richard Powers

Communicating climate change

  1. Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World – Katherine Hayhoe
  2. The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World – Jeff Goodell
  3. Hot Mess: What on earth can we do about climate change? – Matt Winning

Climate solutions

  1. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need – Bill Gates
  2. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming – Paul Hawken
  3. Investing in the Era of Climate Change – Bruce Usher
  4. Making Climate Policy Work – David Victor and Danny Cullenward
  5. Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future – Elizabeth Kolbert
  6. The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World – Oliver Morton

Social challenges of climate change

  1. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate – Naomi Klein
  2. On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal – Naomi Klein
  3. Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future – Mary Robinson
  4. Bonus: Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men – Caroline Criado Perez

Environment and biodiversity

  1. Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm – Isabella Tree
  2. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History – Elizabeth Kolbert
  3. Regenesis: Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet – George Monbiot
  4. Green and Prosperous Land: A Blueprint for Rescuing the British Countryside – Dieter Helm

Looking forwards

  1. The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis – Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
  2. The Climate Book – Greta Thunberg

Uplifting reads

  1. Humankind: A Human History – Rutger Bregman
  2. Humans: A Brief History of How We F***** It All Up – Tom Phillips 

Speaker’s Bio(s)

William McDonnell, COO, Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market

William is COO for the ICVCM, the new global governance body to set and enforce threshold quality standards for the voluntary carbon market. Prior to that he had a 25-year career in financial services. Most recently he was Group Chief Risk Officer and member of the Group Executive Committee for RSA Insurance Group plc for 7 years, responsible for Risk, Assurance and Compliance groupwide. Prior to RSA he held roles at HSBC Investment Bank, Aviva, the UK Financial Services Authority and Deloitte.

William is a leading voice on climate risk in the financial sector, having served as a member of the ClimateWise Council and of the UK’s Climate Financial Risk Forum, and as chair of the Emerging Risks Initiative of leading global insurers, publishing a major climate study ‘The Heat is on – Insurability and Resilience in a Changing Climate’. 

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