It’s a big moment for climate change. Here are 4 books for autumn to understand what’s changing

We’re just weeks away from COP26, the big environmental policy confab where scores of world leaders will descend on Scotland and determine the future of the planet, answering the question, “Should we all die or live?”

That’s meant a whole truckload of new books on the subject, as well as renewed attention to older works that are suddenly back in the limelight again. So following up from our summer round-up of books broadly on the thesis of climate change, we have a new set of reviews of four more books to explore this intricately fascinating subject:

  • First, I look at Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Ministry for the Future” with a piece entitled “The dark side of environmentalism.” Robinson offers us a hopeful vision of the future where humans come together to solve the world’s problems but only after an ecoterrorist group makes the alternatives and status quo less palatable. How do we unpack those values, and what do they portend for our world going forward?
  • Second, my colleague Brian Heater looks at “The Vertical Farm” written by Dr. Dickson Despommier, which was recently republished as a tenth anniversary edition. Vertical farms are among the more utopian movements emanating out of climate tech — a way to bring agriculture closer to the billions of people living in urban agglomerations. How feasible are they, and will they really work?
  • Third, I interview Azeem Azhar on his new book “The Exponential Age,” exploring why technologies like semiconductors, gene editing, 3D printing and more are suddenly coming together to completely reshape our world. The change is only going to accelerate.
  • Finally, I analyze Amitav Ghosh’s “The Great Derangement,” a heady and intensely thought-provoking series of lectures bound up in a slim volume that is just exploding with insight. Ghosh sees our culture as completely divergent from the needs of the climate today and wonders why authors and other creatives seem completely unwilling to address the crisis that is befalling the planet.