Green shoots: the best books to inspire hope for the planet

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The economist and author Ann Pettifor suggests books that offer hope for the future and the Green New Deal

Everyday life has been upended by the pandemic, but the Arctic heatwave is a reminder that the climate crisis still poses an urgent threat to humanity. We will need resolve, ambition and optimism as we emerge from lockdown, so we can forge the green recovery that is so crucial. One book that has sustained my faith in the future is Herman E Daly and John B Cobb’s hopeful vision, For the Common Good. Daly, once (briefly) the World Bank’s chief environmentalist, is an advocate of the steady state economy, central to the Green New Deal. This book is as relevant today as when it was first published, more than 30 years ago.

JA Baker’s 1967 memoir The Peregrine, is another vision – of the ecstatic joy brought on by a deep connectedness to nature. Baker documents his daily and increasingly close connection to the austere Essex landscape that was his home, and to what Gerard Manley Hopkins called “the brute beauty and valour” of an extraordinary bird. For greater understanding of how connected all living things are, Peter Wohlleben’s The Secret Network of Nature is less intense, but startling and delightful. Each chapter is a self-contained exploration of some link in nature: “How Earthworms Control Wild Boar”; “Fairy Tales, Myths and Species Diversity”. Or try Lev Parikian’s witty Into the Tangled Bank. He starts with the wildlife found in your kitchen sink, and gradually deepens connections to nature within and outside your own four walls.

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