Reading books on sustainability is a great way to supplement your sustainability degree. This extracurricular reading can help inform your understanding of sustainability, and broaden your outlook on issues in sustainability and resilience. These must-read sustainability books cover many of today’s leading sustainability topics, including food supply, energy, transportation and city planning.
- “Harmony: A New Way of Looking at our World,” by Prince Charles, 2010: Gaining an overview of sustainable living and production can help people in every level of culture figure out for themselves how to operate sustainably; and, working together, we can create a truly sustainable world. This inspiring book provides that overview, consolidating the extensive studies and practices of the Prince of Wales into a cohesive analysis of world sustainability. He interjects his own experience with farming methods and governing a country to show how balance with nature is the key.
- “Foodopoly,” by Wenonah Hauter, 2012: America is waging a battle over the future of food and farming. People want to eat healthy food and small farmers are producing it, but agribusiness controls nearly every aspect of food supply and distribution. Combating the current crisis of our food supply is going to take more than personal choice and voting with our forks. This book shows the extent and causes of the food distribution crisis, and introduces solutions.
- “Quenching the Thirst: Sustainable Water Supply and Climate Change,” by George Annandale, 2013: Water supply is critical to sustaining any civilization, but the supply itself needs to be treated sustainably, too. Wars have been fought over water shortages and are predicted to escalate in the near future if we don’t change the way we handle existing water resources. A must-read for students interested in sustainability, this book presents an international look at water supply and how overpopulation contributes to scarcity. It’s written by an engineer with experience in water management and is highly rated.
- “The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach,” by Ben Falk, 2013: Nearly every acre of land in the United States that is not a state or federal park is owned by someone; the landscape is carved up to suit human habitation and use. Although there is little hope for making the land wild way it used to be, creating a healthy ecosystem is possible, especially through the application of permaculture practices. While this book is focused on farming, its practices can be applied to any land use. It’s a comprehensive how-to manual that will help a land manager select, design, develop and manage land for self-reliance and regeneration. The permaculture-research farm in Vermont upon which this book is based has drawn national attention as a proven, working model of regenerative agriculture.
- “The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future of our Economy, Energy, and Environment,” by Chris Martenson, 2011: Unsustainable trends in the economy, energy and environment are converging on us in a vary narrow window of time. Regardless of whether fossil fuels are actually declining, use of them has contaminated our planet. What are we doing to produce energy in other ways, how sustainable are those methods and how will our economy be affected? This book explains the predicament and describes what we can expect in the future. It includes an entire section entitled, “What Should I Do?,” which discusses how we can live resilient, sustainable lives.
- “Sustainable Transportation Planning,” by Jeffrey Tumlin, 2012: Driving as we do it now tends to make us anti-social, impatient and brain-dead, and uses a tremendous amount of fuel. With good transportation planning, we could have a much healthier, happier, even sexier society. This book is a good introduction to the concepts of sustainable urban transportation systems. It’s great for students and those new to urban planning, covering transportation vocabulary and concepts in easy-to-understand language without getting bogged down in detailed analysis of the case studies.
- “Recycling Reconsidered,” by Samantha McBride, 2013: Our landfills and waterways are becoming clogged with waste discarded by humans. In nature, waste is broken down and reused, which makes any clogging temporary; but, the waste we create does not act in the same way. To stop this crisis, humans must find a way to reduce waste through reuse, recycling and responsible waste disposal. MacBride introduces a series of recycling case studies that raise questions about the ways we deal with waste and if they are really helping create sustainability.