March 8 marks International Women’s Day, an annual holiday that has been observed for more than a century. Women are at the forefront of so many social justice movements, and climate activism is no exception. From the onset of the U.S. environmental movement in the 1960s up until present-day, many women have led the way by writing books about how everything from the chemical industry to capitalism to conspicuous consumption impacts planet Earth.
So if you're looking for a way to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, consider honoring the most important woman of them all — Mother Earth, of course — by reading a book about protecting her.
Scroll down for seven must-read books about the climate by kick-ass women.
"This Changes Everything" by Naomi Klein
Author, documentary filmmaker, and activist Naomi Klein has written seven books, on topics ranging from the anti-globalization movement to Trump to natural disasters. One of her most popular books is the 2014 This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.
In the book, Klein argues that to repair the climate crisis, we need to repair our economic system. "The really inconvenient truth is that [global warming is] not about carbon — it's about capitalism," reads the back of the book. "The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better." You can also cheat on this book and check out the corresponding documentary of the same name.
And if you want even greener Klein content, her most recent book On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal is another compelling case for protecting the planet through system change.
"The Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert is a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the Earth's sixth mass extinction: the one that's going on right now.
Kolbert's book explores the impact of humans on the planet, and compares the Anthropocene to history's five other mass extinctions. She also "shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human," according to the back of the book.
For more of Kolbert's musings, check out her work in the New Yorker, where she has been writing since 1999.
"No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference" by Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg has only been in the public eye for about a year and a half — but the 17-year-old climate activist somehow already has a book on the market. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference is a collection of speeches that Thunberg has made since her quick rise to fame, and the book is sure to inspire children, teenagers, and even adults who may feel too small to make a change.
Greta, her younger sister, and their parents are also the co-authors of the book Our House Is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis, which is about their journey to becoming environmental activists.
"Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson
Author and conservationist Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring uncovered the ways that pesticides (namely DDT) harm the environment (and in turn, humans). Her writings showed many people just how drastically human activity can impact the climate.
According to the NRDC, Silent Spring "helped set the stage for the environmental movement." And as explained by a 2013 report, Carson's book was the central catalyst for the environmental movement of the 1960s which led to the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970.
Even though Carson's book is more than 50 years old, it is still as eye-opening today as it was in the 1960s.
"The OMD Plan" by Suzy Amis Cameron
Environmental advocate, former actress, and educator Suzy Amis Cameron's book The OMD Plan: Swap One Meal a Day to Save Your Health and Save the Planet won't just scare you about the climate crisis — it'll teach how you can fight it every single day. The book encourages climate-conscious readers to follow the OMD plan: eating one vegan meal a day for the environment (as well as for your personal health and to reduce cruelty to animals).
A 2018 study by the University of Oxford found that “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” as lead author Joseph Poore told The Guardian.
Amis Cameron agrees — and she believes that doing so just once a day is an easy starting point that most of us can get on board with. And so does Oprah — the SuperSoul Sunday host recently did a 30-day OMD challenge, documenting her daily vegan meal in a food diary on Oprahmag.com.
"Inconspicuous Consumption" by Tatiana Schlossberg
Sometimes, the climate crisis can seem like a floating, distant problem — when in fact, it's all around us. That's the idea that New York Times science writer Tatiana Schlossberg puts forward in her 2019 book Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have.
In the book, Schlossberg points out the impact we have on the environment through four areas of our lives: food, fashion, fuel, and technology. She explains how everything we do is connected to other parts of the world, making readers feel inspired to think about the way they impact the planet and the power we all have.
"101 Ways to Go Zero Waste" by Kathryn Kellogg
Reading about the climate crisis can be overwhelming — but you can alleviate that existential fear by fighting against the changing climate with your everyday actions. One powerful way to lower your impact is by going zero waste. Blogger Kathryn Kellogg's 2019 book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste is a great guide to those who are ready to dip their toes into the zero-waste pond.
In the book, Kellogg makes it clear that going zero waste is not about perfection, but about "making better choices." She also takes the movement beyond the waste aspect, and teaches readers about things like, shopping secondhand, disaster preparation, low-impact burials, getting involved with local politics, and more. Everything we do impacts the planet, and Kellogg's practical introduction to the low-impact lifestyle is an awesome way to actually feel good about that fact.