Life in the Anthropocene

Though it can be very frustrating, I like reading books about the environment and our role in it. And as you may suspect, we play a shitty role. Wanna know more? Here are a few notes on some of the books I’ve read.

The Human Planet: How we created the Anthropocene by Simon L. Lewis (2018)

This must be my favorite from this list. A comprehensive read about the different periods our world and climate have gone through and of course, the part humans have played in it. It was fascinating to read that our influence started way earlier than I, and probably most would have expected. For one example – Columbus finding the Americas was a really shitty thing for the locals and the environment there, and let’s be honest for the whole planet now that the USA is the way it is. 

But it had its effects on the climate already then as well. With the death of 55 million native Americans (90% of the population) farmlands were left uncultivated and young trees took over. Being better at capturing CO2, a lot was scrubbed from the air and this played a part in the ‘Little Ice Age’ that began in the 16th century. It’s probably the book with the most underlined sentences I own, I very much recommend it!

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (originally published in 1962)

It never fails to surprise me how long people have known about climate change, the effects of chemicals on our health, etc, and how good the world has been at not listening to them or, even better, silencing people. So this was a well-written reminder of that and how you just can not stop reminding people.

The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery (2005)

I remember I liked this book, it was easy to read and informative … but somehow it didn’t stick well enough to say more.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (2007)

Also a recommendation. As a person who is not really a fan of humanity in general, I loved reading about what would happen, if we would suddenly disappear (I also happened to read it at the time Thanos snapped half the population of the Marvel Universe away). It turns out, with no surprise, the world would not give too many shits in general. 

Except for some stupid stuff we would leave behind, like nuclear power plants and storage facilities that need monitoring. But also train cars full of chemicals that could explode and soil full of stuff that should be cleaned out. But in general, nature would take over pretty quickly, as can be seen in Chornobyl.

For Estonian speakers: I wrote a blog post about the topic for

Walking on Lava: Selected Works for Uncivilised Times, a collection of essays by The Dark Mountain Project (2017)

A bit of a different book on the environment. The Dark Mountain Project has published fiction, non-fiction, essays, poetry, and art in collections since 2009. In this book, the best of 14 cooks have been gathered. It is not so much science as the rest on my list, but more a thought-provoking read, than can be heartbreaking sometimes, but hopeful in other instances. 

As I gathered them for this post, I realized I haven’t read any environmental books in a while and really should. Any suggestions?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *