Library - Energy & Climate Change

This is at once the great over-arching environmental challenge of our times, and the one that is perhaps both the most important and most difficult to overcome. However, this does not mean that it cannot be done, when enough of us from all walks of life, all cultures, all Wisdom traditions—in short, all who cherish living beings—come together to bring the necessary changes about.

Exploring all the program areas featured at the Earth Sila Community Center reveals that they are intimately interwoven, in that they are inter-dependently originated.

For instance, over the last decade the fossil fuels industries have spent millions of dollars on false speech campaigns intended to create doubt about the known facts of climate change.  The extraction, transport, processing, and combustion of fossil fuels do serious environmental health damage, inflicted disproportionately on those least able to defend themselves; as does climate change most immediately threaten indigenous peoples and other marginalized populations with environmental disaster

So focusing on just one set of environmental challenges to the exclusion of others doesn’t fully account for how the Buddha’s teachings on dependent origination are so thoroughly applicable to every aspect of our environmental relations. References to energy and climate change appear in other program area descriptions as well.

At the same time, there is a tendency for the sheer magnitude of the climate change challenge to draw attention and effort from other immediately pressing environmental and social problems, to which the Buddha’s teachings are just as applicable—which is why we also feature these other program areas.  The Library entries and Group listings in this area cover science, law and policy, environmental discourse, and alternative paths to a carbon-free energy future–paths that simultaneously address associated challenges in other program areas.



Alvord, Katie.  Divorce Your Car: Ending the Love Affair With the Automobile. New Society, 2000.

Likening car-addiction to a codependent relationship, Alvord gives a copiously researched and well-rounded argument for going ‘car-lite’ or forgoing the internal combustion engine altogether… and for localizing our lives to replace the ‘necessity’ of a private car with community-building that can make resilience possible for all.


Bardi, Ugo. Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet. Chelsea Green, 2014.

Bardi shows how exhausting all the ‘low hanging fruit’ not only in regards to oil/gas extraction but also in mineral extraction is bringing our globalized civilization to the verge of collapse… A clarion call to deeply consider and avert the toll that mineral extraction and processing takes on Earth’s ecosystems’ health and viability. 


Cole, Joanna & Degen, Bruce. The Magic School Bus & the Climate Challenge. Scholastic, 2010.(Childrens’ science book)

Children (primary grades) follow popular ‘Reading Rainbow’ character, Miss Frizzle and her class on a science/ecology/citizen responsibility field trip in the well-traveled Magic School Bus to learn about global warming and how they can do their part to make small but cumulative differences by reducing their carbon footprints.


Coll,Steve. Private Empire Exxon Mobile & American Power.Penguin,2012.

Investigative reporter Coll even-handedly explores the historical/sociological and psychological reasons why the fossil-fuel industry arguably wields more power than most corporations or governments.  A perceptive, riveting overview of Big Oil’s place in world politics not to be missed.


Funk,McKenzie.  Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming. Penguin Press, 2014.

An outstanding global tour from the Arctic to California to the Ukraine, looking at how and why corporate ‘futurists’ are collaborating with high-stakes investors to profit from anticipated human needs exacerbated by climate-change related deluge, drought, disease and displacement.


Grescoe, Taras.  Straphanger. Times Books, 2012.

Canadian journalist Grescoe gives an informative in-depth look at how mass-transit has evolved (or not) in major cities like his hometown of Montreal, as well as in Paris, NYC, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Tokyo, Moscow, Copenhagen and more, driving home the message that well designed mass transit helps not only the environment, but community cohesion and social harmony.


Hartmann, Thom. The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight:Waking Up to Personal & Global Transformation. Three Rivers Press, 1999.

This book looks holistically at the mindset of humanity and how shifting it away from our habituated patterns driven by fossil-fueled technologies and toward a more integrated, connected view of our place in the world’s ecosystem might hold the key to survivability in the challenging times ahead.


Klein, Naomi. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate. Simon & Schuster, 2014.

Klein describes climate change as a “civilizational wake-up call” that requires much more than greener shopping options, in fact, a radically transformed economic system.  Her analysis of how we got to this critical point and how we might move forward may not hold simple answers, but the questions raised are worth serious consideration and the justifications for optimism/pessimism engendered are a force to be reckoned with.


Macy, Joanna & Johnstone, Chris. Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy. New World Library, 2012.
Looks at climate change impacts for humanity in the ecological, social, psychological and economic realms, as well as ways to keep hope alive individually and collectively, to respect/repair/revere life on Earth, and to overcome despair and helplessness by aligning with actions that move from chaos/alienation to healing/connection.


Marshall, George. Don’t Even Think About It:Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.Boomsbury, 2014.

Marshall explores the human psychology behind climate change denial, self-censoring and fear as he guides readers to reassess their framing of the problems when confronted with the difficult responses often encountered when attempting to discuss this challenging, urgent topic.  Sometimes surprisingly humorous, but never forgetting the gravity of the need to get beyond the language hurdles, there are many useful perspectives to ponder, from those of evangelical Republicans to scientists and climate change activists.


McKibben, Bill. Oil & Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist. Times Bokks/Henry Holt 2013.

No bibliography dealing with environmental issues would be complete without Bill McKibben.  Some may find his approach strident, but this book in particular reveals how the author found himself becoming more attuned with the natural environment by observing the lives of honeybees and playing his part in the building of a social movement to halt the Keystone XL pipeline, a David vs Goliath proportioned contest that plays out to this day. An instructive journey for anyone who wants to take action to co-create a more sustainable society.


Nikiforuk, Andrew. Energy of Slaves: Oil & the New Servitude. Greystone, 2012.

The author makes the case that replacing one form of servitude with another (i.e. human slavery with the vast utilization of oil’s (temporarily) cheap energy may have fostered many marvels of development, but the ensuing moral dilemmas of creating a worldwide monoculture so highly dependent on its continuance has exposed humanity to unprecedented vulnerabilities that need to be looked at from a radically different vantage point if we are ever to live harmoniously as part of the biosphere.


Nikiforuk, Andrew. Tar Sands:Dirty Oil & the Future of a Continent. Greystone, 2010.*ECC, WWL

Hailing from Calgary, the author’s passionate and penetrating look at how the Alberta Tar Sands project is playing out in Canada & what it portends for the near and distant future in energy development and environmental health may at times be polemical, but his analysis of the profound costs of oil addiction to future generations and to our integrity as human beings in an intricately interconnected world merits attention and positive action.


Prud’homme, Alex. Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford U Press, 2014.

This is a slim, yet remarkably thorough volume on the bare facts about fracking… what all is entailed in the process, as well as a sobering picture of how water-intensive a process it is from the author of one of the best books out there on the state of the world’s fresh water, The Ripple Effect.


Stoknes, Per Espen. What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming. Chelsea Green, 2015.

Stoknes explores the psychological barriers to effective climate action and suggests strategies to open lines of communication to facilitate the transformations needed ahead, from reframing how we talk about global warming in boardrooms to how we privately & collectively consider our gratitude for the air we breathe, and engaging both mind and heart in the process.


Squarzoni, Phillipe.  Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science. Abrams Comicarts, 2014.

There are times when a graphic novel format can run circles around any other genre to inform, inspire and get under the skin, and Squarzoni is clearly a master at this…. His very personal journey through the science of Climate Change has elicited accolades from Jean Jouzel of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) as a narrative that is “essential” and “a true feast” for readers who want to truly get what’s happening with the science in a comprehensive, engaging way– a great resource.

Stanley, John; Loy, David R.& Dorje, Gyurme (eds.). A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency. Wisdom Publication Books, 2009.

Contributions by the Dalai Lama, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Joanna Macy, Khenchen Thrangu Rimpoche and others offer and ask for a collective response guided by a more interconnected and compassionate worldview to the challenges of climate change, in order to slow/halt our most harmful consumptive patterns of behavior that are sure to impact future generations.


Pope Francis I. “Laudato Si’ – Encyclical Letter, Francis I.” Vatican: the Holy See. Vatican Website. Libraria Editrice Vaticana, May 2015. Pope Francis I calls for a moral response to the global problem of climate change, which disproportionately impacts the world’s poorest people. “He proposes radical economic, social, and lifestyle transformation based on elements of an integral ecology, one which clearly respects its human and social dimensions.




Chasing Ice, (James Balog, 2012)  Photographer and one-time climate-skeptic James Balog’s documentation of glacier melting around the globe and its implications for the planet is a breathtaking and sobering look at the speed with which the arctic regions’ changes are outpacing humanity’s capacities to seriously address the ways that human behaviors are accelerating global warming.


Climate Refugees, (Lester Brown, 2010)  shows how people in various regions of the world are dealing with climate-change-driven diasporas, as the physical and social integrity of their communities (and sometimes entire nations) are imperiled by floods, droughts, fires and other climate-related events.  With analysis of what can be expected both with and without radical changes in the way human beings respond to fellow humans’ calamities in the wake of climate catastrophe, this film asks us to dig deep into our world view of what it is to be human… and humane.


Petropolis, (Peter Mettler, 2012)  is an absolutely jaw-dropping look at the Alberta Tar Sands in its early stages of development… Consisting entirely of fly-overs in a helicopter, and absent of narration or dialogue, we view the transformation underway of a boreal forest as multiple bulldozers the size of large buildings constantly move mountains of earth to get at bitumen, grasping the magnitude of this project’s stunning size and scope in the process. Unforgettable.


The Power of Community:How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, (Faith Morgan, 2006)

Cuba’s ‘Special Period’ was a time of tremendous hardship having an embargo on imports that forced the island nation to draw upon inner resources to survive.  An instructive look at what was entailed to go from a fossil-fuel dependent agriculture to one that of necessity sprang up from the grassroots, there is much to be learned from Cuba’s experience here.


Split Estate, (Debra Anderson, 2009)

With the hydrofracking boom to produce the highly touted ‘bridge fuel’ from fossil-fuels to renewables, Garfield County residents in Colorado are put under tremendous pressure as they learn that what lies beneath their property is considered fair game for energy companies determined to do horizontal drilling, regardless of the risks posed to resident humans, livestock, wildlife, air, water & ecosystems.




One Earth Sangha: Expressing a Buddhist response to climate change and other threats to our home. One Earth Sangha is oriented toward Buddhist and mindfulness practitioners seeking dharma, practices and community around care for the Earth. Over time, it aims to provide opportunities for its virtual community to add a clear Buddhist voice to the international conversation about climate change and the need to change our policies and practices.