Illuminating Wonder and Taking Action

Women have long been some of the most eloquent and impactful writers when it comes to nature and ecology. They have also often been overlooked in favor of their male counterparts. Below, a selection of books that showcase women’s voices and insights on the outdoors, climate change, and environmental justice.  


“Silent Spring,” by Rachel Carson

One of the classics of environmental writing, Carson’s book on the terrifying effects of widespread pesticide use feels as vibrant and vital today as it did when it was published in 1962.


“Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Kimmerer brings her unique perspective as both a botanist trained in Western science and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation to this beautiful book about the interconnectedness of science, belief, nature, humanity, and all living creatures. 


“The Sixth Extinction”, by Elizabeth Kolbert

Elizabeth Kolbert is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and the author of several books on climate change. Perhaps the most trenchant is “The Sixth Extinction,” in which she argues that we are in the midst of a man-made period of mass extinction. 


“Black Faces, White Spaces,” by Carolyn Finney

Finney tackles the question of why African Americans are underrepresented in natural spaces, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism. In doing so, she illuminates how nature has been racialized in the United States and shines a light on the work being done by African Americans to change that. 


“Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity ,” by Sandra Postel

Postel examines the disruption of natural water cycles, and shares examples of projects around the world that seek to cooperate with nature while fulfilling human’s need for water. 


“Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility,” by Dorceta Taylor 

This book tells the story of how poor communities are taking the brunt of climate change effects and examines the legacy of segregation and racism in the United States through an environmental lens. 


“As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock,” by Dina Gilio-Whitaker

Activist and researcher Dina Gilio-Whitaker shares the history of Indigenous resistance to land incursion and advocacy for climate justice, particularly highlighting the important role of Indigenous women in this ongoing work.  


NOVELS

“Tentacle,” by Rita Indiana

In this inventive novel, a young maid living in post-apocalyptic Santo Domingo is sent back in time on a mission to save the ocean. Besides sending a powerful message on climate change, the book explores queerness, colonialism, and Yoruba ritual, resulting in an unforgettable read. 


“Flight Behavior,” by Barbara Kingsolver

Before she began her prolific fiction-writing career, Kingsolver was a biologist by training, which shows in this novel. The story is focused on a woman whose life is changed after encountering an enormous roost of monarch butterflies who, due to climate change, have gone off course and landed in rural Tennessee. 


“The Swan Book,” by Alexis Wright

Wright, an Aboriginal author and lands rights activist, paints a portrait of a world altered by climate change through exploration of Aboriginal culture and myth, the aftermath of sexual assault, and the enduring power of hope and humor. 


Documentaries

Films have been a powerful tool in the fight for environmental justice for years, most notably the influential documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”


An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

The sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth” provides an inside look at the creation of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. Stream it: Sony Crackle


Years of Living Dangerously

This television series sends various celebrities with a history of environmental activism, journalists who cover climate, and other correspondents around the world who document stories on the effects of climate change. Stream it: Amazon Prime


Chasing Ice

This 2012 film follows nature photographer James Balog, who, although initially skeptical about climate change, now documents glaciers to demonstrate the impact of global warming. Available to rent or buy on Amazon or iTunes. 


Before the Flood

A broad overview of the effects of climate change and the challenges we face in confronting it.  Stream it: Disney+


Chasing Coral

A film focused on the disappearance of the world’s coral reefs. Stream it: Netflix 


Food, Inc.

This examination of the corporatization of food in the United States looks at its harmful effects on workers, farmers, consumers, animals, and the environment.