Dalai Lama and Greta Thunberg climate crisis talk: Read these books on the emergency

Eva Waite-Taylor
·5-min read
<p>As the Nobel peace laureate and youth activist meet, these tomes will arm you with both facts and hope</p> (iStock/The Independent)

As the Nobel peace laureate and youth activist meet, these tomes will arm you with both facts and hope

(iStock/The Independent)

The Dalai Lama and youth climate activist Greta Thunberg discussed the climate crisis via livestream on 9 January as part of a panel hosted by the Mind & Life Institute – a non-profit that works to bridge “science and contemplative wisdom”.

Addressing the question “What can be done to slow down this threat before it’s too late?”, the pair were joined by leading scientists. The discussion highlighted recent findings, the ethical importance of taking action, and what we can collectively do to bring about positive change.

The talk comes in the wake of the Dalai Lama’s most recent book, Our Only Home: A Climate Appeal to the World, in which he appeals for urgent action to protect fragile environments.

The 85-year-old Nobel peace laureate is considered a keen climate activist, known for urging world leaders to limit global gas emissions.

As for Greta Thunberg, the activist is best known for inspiring youth climate strikes around the world as part of the Fridays for Future campaign. The mobilisation created a movement and sent a clear message to governments across the globe, with 2019’s climate strike resulting in 200 events in the UK alone, with 1.9 million young people taking part.

The coronavirus pandemic has posed a challenge, since the campaign, which evolved into largely in-person gatherings, was forced to grind to a halt in March 2020. Despite this, Thunberg’s determination shows no signs of waning.

If the conversation between these two climate titans left you wanting to find out more, books can offer a clear and wide view of the crisis at hand.

These non-fiction reads aim to inspire conversation, encourage open-mindedness, and provide hard-hitting evidence in the hope of making you feel more empowered to make a change.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

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‘Our Only Home: A Climate Appeal to the World’ by the Dalai Lama with Franz Alt, published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Speaking of the urgent need for climate action, the Dalai Lama praises Thunberg and other young climate activists for their continued determination in the fight to bring about positive change, urging others to follow suit. He also calls for greater compassion for the earth and the world’s most disadvantaged, who are the most likely to be affected by global heating.

Buy now £10.22, Bookshop

‘No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference’ by Greta Thunberg, published by Penguin Books Ltd

This is a collection of Thunberg’s world-changing speeches made across Europe, to the UN, and at mass street protests. No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference helps us to face up to the reality of the climate crisis, no matter how powerless we feel.

Buy now £10.99, Blackwell’s

‘The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future’ by David Wallace-Wells, published by Penguin Books Ltd

Landing the top spot in our guide to the best climate emergency books, The Uninhabitable Earth is for you if you need to quickly get up to speed with the "sheer scale of the climate emergency”, said our reviewer. “In 200 pages, it deftly unpacks the different dimensions of our forecasted doom, from heat death to unbreathable air,” she added. While it doesn’t offer solutions, it does offer hope that we already have all the tools we need to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.

Buy now £8.49, Amazon

‘The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History’ by Elizabeth Kolbert, published by Bloomsbury Published Plc

Five mass extinctions have taken place in the last billion years. Through combining field reporting from the Andes, the Amazon rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef with observations from her own garden, Elizabeth Kolbert uncovers the picture of the sixth; an extinction that threatens to eliminate 20 to 50 per cent of all species on Earth within this century.

Using accessible prose, The Sixth Extinction reveals the hard truth about rising sea levels, deforestation and the dispersion of disease-carrying species, compelling readers to rethink what it means to be human.

Buy now £7.99, Blackwell’s

‘The Case for the Green New Deal’ by Ann Pettifor, published by Verso Books

If you’ve heard of the Green New Deal – a proposed plan of US legislation that aims to address the climate crisis and economic inequality – but are not quite sure how it’ll address the emergency, Ann Pettfor’s book provides a good starting point. Demonstrating that we already have the solutions to tackling the environmental crisis and that we just need the collective will to enact them, The Case for a Green New Deal debunks the idea that we can’t afford to fund such a plan. Featuring in our review of the best climate emergency books, it’s a must read.

Buy now £8.36, Bookshop

‘Why Women Will Save the Planet’, by Friends of the Earth and C40, published by Zed Books Ltd

Exploring a range of topics such as economics, education and climate refugees, this book acts as an empowering call to protect the planet. Why Women Will Save the Planet is a collection of essays authored by pioneering city mayors and key figures in the environmental and feminist movements, such as Baroness Lola Young.

A collaboration between C40 Cities, a non-profit organisation that helps cities to collaborate and drive meaningful action on the climate crisis, and Friends of the Earth, an environmental campaigning organisation, this book is a rallying cry not just for women, but for anyone interested in a way out of the climate emergency.

Buy now £9.19, WHSmith

Want to better understand the crisis? Read our review of the best climate emergency books