Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? By Alan Weisman. 2013. Little, Brown, $28 (9780316097758).
Weisman considers the conundrums of population growth as climate change intensifies in frank conversations with religious leaders, scientists, and public-health experts in more than 20 diverse countries around the world.
Cows Save the Planet and Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth. By Judith D. Schwartz. 2013. Chelsea Green, paper, $17.95 (9781603584326).
As Schwartz reveals a wealth of detail about soil’s extraordinarily beneficial properties, she also presents compelling findings about how proper soil management can end escalating worldwide desertification and combat global warming.
The Incidental Steward: Reflections on Citizen Science. By Akiko Busch. 2013. Yale, $25 (9780300178791).
Hudson River Valley native Busch shares her discoveries of environmental change in that verdant region and chronicles her involvement in the invaluable and gratifying practice of “citizen science.”
Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet. By Todd Wilkinson. 2013. Lyons, $26.95 (9780762784431).
Wilkinson is the first to tell the whole story of Ted Turner’s innovative, philanthropic, ecohumanitarian efforts supporting clean water and sustainable energy initiatives, and restoring and preserving vast ecosystems and diverse endangered species.
Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist. By Bill McKibben. 2013. Times, $26 (9780805092844).
Writer and activist McKibben vividly contrasts the deep benefits of such sustainable endeavors as chemical-free beekeeping with the toxicity of tar-sands oil production and Washington politics.
Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change. By Andrew T. Guzman. 2013. Oxford, $29.95 (9780199933877).
Legal scholar, educator, and economist Guzman delineates the wide-ranging and catastrophic consequences that will occur if we persist in ignoring the realities of climate change.
The Rise of the U.S. Environmental Health Movement. By Kate Davies. 2013. Rowman & Littlefield, $38 (9781442221376); e-book, $37.99 (9781442221383).
Davies explains with eye-opening precision just how very hazardous to our health toxic waste, air pollution, and pesticide use are, and what the growing environmental health movement is doing about it.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. By Elizabeth Kolbert. 2014. Holt, $28 (9780805092998).
Kolbert brilliantly and engagingly combines science and travel writing to fully reveal how our use of fossil fuels is rapidly changing the atmosphere, the oceans, and the climate, potentially forcing millions of species into extinction and putting our own future at risk.
Traveling the Power Line: From the Mojave Desert to the Bay of Fundy. By Julianne Couch. 2013. Univ. of Nebraska, paper, $19.95 (9780803245068).
Couch investigates such established sources of energy as nuclear, natural gas, and coal as well as cutting-edge technologies involving wind, solar, hydropower, tidal, and biomass production in this accessible guide to urgent energy challenges.
The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance. By William McDonough and Michael Braungart. 2013. Farrar/North Point, paper, $24 (9780865477483).
Drawing inspiration from nature’s endless food chain, where one creature’s waste becomes nutrition for others, zero-waste and sustainability innovators McDonough and Braungart offer blueprints for a future in which, instead of destroying the environment, we add to the earth’s abundance.