The health of our planet depends on all of us, and perhaps no group today feels this more acutely than the world’s young since they will be left to grapple with some of the most devastating consequences of a warming world. According to some projections, for example, a child born in 2020 will experience a two- to seven-fold increase in extreme weather events compared to those born in 1960.
So it’s no surprise that young people have been on the forefront of climate movements demanding bold, global action.
We asked nine young trailblazers — all pushing for change in their communities in inspiring and creative ways — to share their favorite climate-related books and podcasts, as well as what one action they’d like to see in the world. Let their recommendations help you sharpen your understanding of the crisis from all angles.
Marina Melanidis, Founder, Youth4Nature
The best book I’ve read about the climate crisis is: All We Can Save by Ayana Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson. It’s a hopeful and unapologetically feminist view of not just the climate crisis, but how beautiful the solutions are.
My favorite climate change podcast is: The “Ajyal Podcast” with Rayan Kassem. It’s a podcast that highlights and explores the priorities, perspectives and expertise of youth leaders about nature, climate and justice within West Asia and the Middle East. It’s one of the (if not the) only podcasts focused on climate justice by West Asian youth. These perspectives are absolutely critical, yet often unheard in climate spaces, especially by the Global North. Episodes are both in English and Arabic, and cover topics including oil and gas in the Gulf region, Palestinian land rights, the fight of Indigenous communities in the Middle East for social and climate justice, and the impacts of militarization on climate movements.
If I could tell everyone on Earth to take one action on behalf of the climate, it would be: Join a collective. Individual action alone will not catalyze the systemic, transformative changes necessary to address the climate crisis. Only as a collective, pushing for change on the streets, in our communities and at the ballot box, will we be able to build the world we both need and deserve.
Ayisha Siddiqa, Cofounder, Polluters Out
The best book I’ve read about the climate crisis is: Ecology by Ernest Callenbach. This book is less about the climate crisis and more about the intricate networks of what we call ecology. The book touches on the harrowing effects of the climate catastrophe, but it also opens up the complex and ever developing life on earth. I keep it around like a thesaurus.
My favorite climate change podcast is: Mary Annaïse Heglar and Amy Westervelt’s podcast “Hot Take” is one of the most introspective series about climate. It has not only made me more knowledgeable about the history of the crisis but also be able to explicitly link it with injustice. On a separate note, I find that working in a field of emergency can be emotionally taxing and thus poetry podcasts — especially poems of imagination or finding love in everyday objects — are as necessary to my role in mitigating the climate crisis as are the facts.
If I could tell everyone on Earth to take one action on behalf of the climate, it would be: Push for complete divestment and transition away from fossil fuel. You can do this by joining groups like Polluters Out. I think for an issue of such magnitude, there are so many ways to get involved, but the single most largest contributor to the climate crisis is corporate extraction and use of fossil fuels.
Clover Hogan, Founder & Executive Director, Force of Nature
The best book I’ve read about the climate crisis is: Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation by Paul Hawken. Climate science tells us we’re hurtling toward the cliff and that we can’t just hit the brakes – we need to turn around and drive in the other direction. This book of solutions shows us how.
My favorite climate change podcast is: Season 2 of the “Force of Nature” podcast, “We need to talk about eco-anxiety.” Each episode in this 12-part series explores a different face of the climate crisis through the lens of our mental health: from the food we eat, to our relationship with media and our addiction to fossil fuels. It’s a powerful piece of storytelling told through the voices of young people who have inherited the challenge.
If I could tell everyone on Earth to take one action on behalf of the climate, it would be: To step up rather than shut down in the face of the climate crisis. It’s easy to feel powerless to make a difference, yet we’ll only create the world we know is possible if we have the courage to imagine it – and the mindset to make it happen.
Helen Watts, Director of Global Partnerships, Student Energy
The best book I’ve read about the climate crisis is: I really appreciated A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency by Seth Klein for a couple of reasons. One, being a history nerd I find the content really interesting — I’m drawn to comparative analyses between history and current times, and what we can learn from looking back at history. The second reason being that the book felt like a bit of a “calling the BS” on incremental climate action and long-term commitments by governments by pointing to the real fact that when countries throughout history have felt like they truly have no time to lose to avoid real human, political and economic costs, they do know how to act and treat that situation like the crisis it is.
My favorite climate change podcast is: For energy transition conversations, “Watt It Takes” by Emily Kirsch is awesome and really important. It features complex yet accessible conversations on the real barriers to changing our energy system and what’s working well that we can learn from. For climate change and action, “How to Save a Planet” by Gimlet is super fun, really engaging, and keeps climate action feeling fresh, innovative and people-centered, which is key when you’re feeling disillusioned with the lack of ambition and action at a leadership level.
If I could tell everyone on Earth to take one action on behalf of the climate, it would be: Show up and vote for strong climate platforms — challenge your elected officials and platforms running for office to get bolder, more concrete and more inclusive with their climate plans.
The best book I’ve read about the climate crisis is: All We Can Save, co-edited by Ayana Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson. It is diverse, and features 60 women authors writing about an array of climate issues. The best part is that it is framed with positivity and hope.
My favorite climate change podcast is: I like “Drilled” because Amy Westervelt is amazing, they are part of the Covering Climate Now media initiative and they are accountable for the information and facts they bring to the climate movement.
If I could tell everyone on Earth to take one action on behalf of the climate, it would be: Write, call and visit your lawmakers to demand action and accountability on the climate crisis. This is because the climate crisis is a systemic issue and we need broad governmental action.
Ricardo Pineda Guzman, Director, Sustenta Honduras
The best book I’ve read about the climate crisis is: The Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey D. Sachs. Climate change is more than just the climate. This is one of the best books to learn about intersectional impacts and sustainability.
My favorite climate change podcast is: “People Taking Action.” It’s an inspiring way to hear about how youth are changing and shaping the world. Hero|Podcast is another really inspiring podcast about youth on climate action.
If I could tell everyone on Earth to take one action on behalf of the climate, it would be: Advocacy. We need rapid and equitable decarbonization.
Haven Coleman, Founder/Director, ARID agency and #GiveAIR Fund
The best book I’ve read about the climate crisis is: Anything by Naomi Klein or Bill McKibben is the best, but This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein is a must. If you’re wondering why capitalism hasn’t solved the climate crisis already, want ideas on how you can be of help, and need hope to keep you going, this is your book.
My favorite climate change podcast is: “Hot Take” or “How to Save a Planet” — sorry, I can’t pick a fave! Their hearts and wit shine through each episode, they aren’t afraid to tell it like it is, and I always learn something new.
If I could tell everyone on Earth to take one action on behalf of the climate, it would be: Everyone on Earth needs to be starting and leading conversations about the climate crisis with everyone they come in contact with in their community. I’m choosing this because not everyone on Earth is responsible for the crisis nor does everyone have the means or power to fix it, but we all need to be talking about the crisis and how it affects us for any change to occur.
Neeshad Shafi, Co-Founder, Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar
The best book I’ve read about the climate crisis is: Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken is a comprehensive, easy-to-understand plan to save and reverse global warming, plus information to share with the community.
If I could tell everyone on Earth to take one action on behalf of the climate, it would be: At the personal level, I would recommend taking action on your carbon footprint on a regular basis. We have started the first carbon footprint calculator of Qatar to be released later this month.
Maurus Pfalzgraf, youth activist, FFF Switzerland
The best book I’ve read about the climate crisis is: I listened to the audiobook version of This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein and I learned how different the fight is in different countries.
My favorite climate change podcast is: Not a podcast, but “Our Changing Climate” is a Youtube channel I like because it informs in a way which is understandable for a really broad audience.
If I could tell everyone on Earth to take one action on behalf of the climate, it would be: If I knew a smart answer to that question I would give a TED Talk about it. I promise.
Today’s youth have inherited a big, unprecedented climate problem to solve — and the eco-anxiety to go with it. Gen-Zer and activist Clover Hogan believes the path to climate action starts with the one thing you can control: your mindset.