book list: energy, ecology, evolution, extinction, war, natural resources, carrying capacity, infrastructure, agriculture, politics and more

My long reading list (below) is very long and out-of-date, so I’ve broken it up into reading lists by topic (in progress still).  I encourage you to buy the books and print off the articles on acid-free paper (see Preservation of Knowledge).  If you can’t afford to buy them (used), nearly all of the books or cited books and articles in the references section, are available at the University of California and other university libraries.

Fossil Fuel reading list

Alternative Energy reading list

Vacation reading list


2011 long list

booklist pdf format

booklist word format

booklist excel format

Unformatted book list

The Big Picture                      
Charles A. Hall, Kent Klitgaard Energy and the Wealth of Nations: Understanding the Biophysical Economy     Uses science as the basis of economics – should be the Econ 101 textbook  
Walter Youngquist Geodestinies: The Inevitable Control of Earth Resources over Nations & Individuals
Garrett Hardin Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos
David Pimentel Food, Energy, and Society
John Perlin A Forest Journey: The Role of Wood in the Development of Civilization
Clive Ponting A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations
Peter Corning Nature’s Magic: Synergy in Evolution and the Fate of Humankind
Ward & Brownllee Rare Earth  Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe  
Laurie Garrett Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health
Science & Critical thinking         How we know what we know
Naome Oreskes Merchants of Doubt. How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on Issues from Tobacco smoke to Global Warming
Bill Bryson A Short History of Nearly Everything
James Lawrence Powell The Inquisition of Climate Science
Simon Singh Trick or Treatment. The undeniable facts about alternative medicine.
Skeptic Magazine Critical thinking, philosophy of science, pseudoscience critiques, etc
Natalie Angier The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science
R. Barker Bausell Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary & Alternative Medicine
Ray Moynihan Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients
Steve Salerno Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless
Robert Davis The Healthy Skeptic: Cutting through the Hype about Your Health
Dietrich Dorner The Logic of Failure
Nicholas Capaldi The Art of Deception: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. How to Win an Argument, Defend a Case, ….
Robert Cialdini Influence: The Art of Persuasion
Carl Sagan The Demon-Haunted World:  Science as a Candle in the Dark
Michael Shermer Why People Believe Weird Things. Pseudoscience, superstition and other confusions
Michael Shermer The Science of Good & Evil : Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, & Follow the Golden Rule
Extinction      How we could drive ourselves and up to 95% of life on earth extinct
Johan Rockström Planetary Boundaries. Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity
Peter Ward The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?
Mark Lynas Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
Peter Ward Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future
Richard E. Leakey The Sixth Extinction: Patterns of Life and the Future of Humankind
Michael J. Mills et al Massive global ozone loss predicted following regional nuclear conflict. Apr 8, 2008 PNAS vol. 105#14
Peter Ward The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps
Peter Ward, et. al. Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, And Earth’s Ancient Atmosphere
John Atcheson Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb   Dec 16, 2004   Baltimore Sun   (potential for runaway greenhouse?)
James Lovelock The Revenge of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis and the Fate of Humanity
Christian de Duve Genetics of Original Sin. The Impact of Natural Selection on the Future of Humanity.
Poisoned Earth — Land, Air, and Water
Theo Colborn Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story
John McCormick Acid Earth: The Global Threat of Acid Pollution
Jonathan Watts When A Billion Chinese Jump: How China Will Save Mankind — Or Destroy It
Judith Shapiro Mao’s War against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China
Earth under assault: depletion of resources essential to our survival
David Montgomery Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations
John Opie Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land
Bruce Franklin The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America
Michael Harris Lament For An Ocean: The Collapse of the Atlantic Cod Fishery: A True Story
Richard Ellis The Empty Ocean: Plundering the World’s Marine Life
Robert Glennon Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping & the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters
N. Middleton World Atlas of Desertification
What is our Carrying capacity?
Vaclav Smil Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production
Gever, Kauffman, et al Beyond Oil: The Threat to Food and Fuel in the Coming Decades
D. & M. Fisher The Nitrogen Bomb.  April 2001.   Discover magazine
William Catton Overshoot
Mathis Wackernagel Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth
History of Human Ecology
Tim Flannery The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australian Lands and People
Michael Williams Deforesting the Earth: From Prehistory to Global Crisis
Tim Flannery The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples
Our violent propensities: Can we avoid WW III as energy declines and times get harder?
Steven A. LeBlanc Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage
Lutz Kleveman The New Great Game:  Blood and Oil in Central Asia
Michael Klare Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict
Chalmers Johnson The Sorrows Of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic
Robert Baer Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
Ahmed Rashid Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia
Peter Turchin War and Peace and War. The Life Cycles of Imperial Nations.
David Berreby Us and Them. Understanding Your Tribal Mind.
Azar Gat War in Human Civilization.
Lawrence Keeley War before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage
James Waller Becoming Evil. How ordinary people commit genocide and mass killing
Philip Gourevitch We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda
Jack Weatherford Genghis Kahn and the Making of the Modern World
Daniel Goldhagen Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans & the Holocaust
Wrangham & Peterson Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence
Michael Ghiglieri The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Male Violence
Richard Rhodes Why They Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist
Giles MacDonogh After the Reich.  The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation.
Oil, Natural Gas,  & Coal: why they’re so difficult to replace, scale, uses, history, etc
Kenneth Deffeyes 1) Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert’s Peak 2) Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage
Richard Heinberg Blackout. Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis
Heinberg & D. Fridley The End of cheap coal…reserves will run out faster than many believe. 18 Nov 2010, Vol 460, Nature 2010 pp 367-69
T.Patzek & G. Croft A global coal production forecast with multi-Hubbert cycle analysis    Energy 35 (2010) 3109-3122
Matthew Simmons Twilight in the Desert: the coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy
NY Acad of Sciences Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal.  Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci 1219 (2011) pp 73-98
Daniel Yergin The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power   [Pulitzer Prize winner]
The most likely short-term “solutions”               
Robert L. Hirsch Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management
Howard Bucknell III Energy and the National Defense.  
Department of Energy Standby Gasoline Rationing Plan
Why Alternative Energy can’t replace fossil fuels (also see,,
Ted Trainer Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society 
Howard Hayden The Solar Fraud: Why Solar Energy Won’t Run the World
Martin Hoffert, et al Advanced Technology Paths to Global Climate Stability: Energy for a Greenhouse Planet   1 Nov 2002    Science
U.S.Dept of Energy Vehicle Technologies Program. Energy Storage Research and Development. Annual Progress report 2008
T.Patzek & G. Croft Potential for Coal-to-Liquids Conversion in the United States. Natural Resources Research Vol 18#3 Sep 2009
Sheila Newman (ed) The Final Energy Crisis
Jacqueline Langwith, ed. Opposing Viewpoints: Renewable Energy, vol. 2
Feral Metallurgist Other sources of energy cannot deliver sufficient surpluses to replace the potent portable energy we know as gasoline and diesel. It is not generally understood that poorer quality energy sources can be critically dependent upon oil for their extraction, processing and distribution. In other words, oil is the precursor for other sources of energy; gas, coal, nuclear, solar, hydro, because these require oil fuel to create and maintain infrastructure. It also gives them the illusion of being “profitable”.
Buckminster Fuller Energy slave unit = avg output of a man doing 150,000 foot-pounds of work per day 250 days per year. In low-energy societies, nonhuman energy slaves are horses, oxen, windmills, riverboats. Now, the average American has more than 8,000 energy-slaves at his or her disposal, and these slaves can work under extreme conditions: no sleep, 5,000° F, at 400,000 pounds per square inch pressure, etc”
Agriculture, transportation, the major feedstock for over half a million products, heating, cooling, etc.  Fossil fuels allow 6 billion extra people to exist who otherwise wouldn’t be here.
R Udall, S Andrews The Illusive Bonanza: Oil Shale in Colorado “Pulling the Sword from the Stone”
Jason Makansi Lights Out.  The Electricity Crisis, the Global Economy, and What It Means to You
Richard Munson From Edison to Enron: The Business of Power and What It Means for the Future of Electricity
Joseph J. Romm Hype About Hydrogen: Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate
U.Bossel & B.Eliasson Energy and the Hydrogen Economy   
Alice Friedemann The Hydrogen Economy: Energy and Economic Black Hole 
Alice Friedemann Peak Soil: Why Biofuels are Not Sustainable and a Threat to America’s National Security
D. Pimentel, T. Patzek Ethanol Production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybean and Sunflower
E.ON Netz Corp. E.ON Netz Wind Report 2005
Wind Action Wind power articles and realities
H Hirsch, et al Nuclear Reactor Hazards: Ongoing Dangers of Operating Nuclear Technology in the 21st Century
Robert Alvarez Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the U.S.: Reducing the Deadly Risks of Storage   Institute for Policy Studies May 2011
T. Cochran et al It’s time to give up on breeder reactors.  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.  May / June 2010
Michael Dittmar The Future of Nuclear Energy: Facts and Fiction (4 parts)
Richard Wolfson Nuclear Choices: A Citizen’s Guide to Nuclear Technology
Ewen Callaway To catch a wave                                8 Nov 2007 | Nature 450, 156-159
Infrastructure        Our infrastructure was built when oil had EROEI of 40-100. Now it’s falling apart.
Charles Hall et al. Hydrocarbons and the Evolution of Human Culture  20 Nov 2003   Nature 426, pp. 318–22
Brian Hayes Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape
Kate Ascher The Works: Anatomy of a City
ASCE American Society of Civil Engineers Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.   2009
Env Protection Agency The Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis.  2002.  Office of Water
Rose George The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters
Politics: Why it’s so hard to find a way out of our situation: the Human Political Animal
Joel Bakan The Corporation  The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
Stanton Glantz Tobacco War: Inside the California Battles
Marion Nestle Food Politics  How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health
Jack Doyle Taken for a Ride: Detroit’s Big Three and the Politics of Pollution
James C. Scott Seeing Like a State.  How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed.
David W. Wolfe Tales from the Underground: A Natural History of Subterranean
R. Ratta, R. Lal Soil Quality and Soil Erosion
N. Brady, R. Weil The Nature and Properties of Soils
Jeffrey F. Mount California Rivers & Streams. The Conflict between Fluvial Process & Land Use
Sandra Postel Pillar of Sand, Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?
Resource Allocation
David Landes The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor
Jared Diamond Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies     [Pulitzer Prize winner]
Roy Beck & Leon Kolankiewicz The Environmental Movement’s Retreat From Advocating U.S. Population Stabilization (1970-1998). 
Garrett Hardin The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia The Immigration Dilemma: Avoiding the Tragedy of the Commons,
Virginia Abernethy Population Politics: The Choices That Shape Our Future
Bill McKibben A Special Moment in History    May 1998    Atlantic Monthly
All links at:   especially those by William Catton about Malthus
Thomas Homer-Dixon Environment, Scarcity, and Violence
Climate Change a.k.a. Global Warming
Spencer R. Weart The Discovery of Global Warming    
John D. Cox Climate Crash: Abrupt Climate Change And What It Means For Our Future
Brian Fagan The Little Ice Age: How climate made history 1300 – 1850
Brian Fagan The Long Summer. How Climate Changed Civilization
The National Academy Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises             
Societies in Decline: What happens after financial and/or energy collapses — how do people cope?  What careers will be best in an outsourced, resourced-depleted world?
Dmitry Orlov Russia: Reinventing Collapse. The Soviet Example and American Prospects
Peter Godwin Zimbabwe: When a Crocodile Eats the Sun Cuba: Going against the grain                 
Dale Allen Pfeiffer North Korea                                             
Stephen Wegren Russia’s Food Policies and Globalization
Timothy Egan The worst hard time: the untold story of those who survived the Dust Bowl    
Collapse      fossil fuels grow food and unlock all other resources and maintain the infrastructure we survive on.    Energy shortages + death by a thousand cuts etc will cause collapse
Robert Constanza, et al Sustainability or Collapse? An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth
Donella Meadows Nothing is So Powerful As an Exponential Whose Time Has Come
Albert Bartlett Arithmetic, Population, and Energy
Jared Diamond Collapse:  How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Health Care: Take care of yourself, health care will decline as society grows poorer
Merrill Goozner The $800 Million Pill. The Truth Behind the Cost of New Drugs
Marion Nestle 1) Safe Food     2) What to Eat
David Kessler The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite
Evolutionary Psychology & Biology
Matt Ridley The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
Judith Harris No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality
Judith Harris The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do
Geoffrey Miller The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
David Barash Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People
Sarah Hrdy Mother Nature.  A history of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection
What it’s like to be a soldier   
Guy Sajer The Forgotten Soldier
David Finkel The Good Soldiers
Peter Goldman Charlie Company: What Vietnam Did to Us
Stephen Hawking A Brief History of Time
Laurie Garrett The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance
BioInvasion & BioDiversity                         
Michael Novacek, et al The Biodiversity Crisis: Losing What Counts
Gregory Cochran The 10,000 Year Explosion. How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution
Charles Darwin On the Origin of Species & The Descent of Man 
Jonathan Weiner The Beak Of The Finch: A Story Of Evolution In Our Time  [Pulitzer Prize winner]
Claude Combes The Art of Being a Parasite
Nina Jablonski Skin, A Natural History
Carl Zimmer Parasite Rex. Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures
Putting it All Together
Edward O. Wilson ConsilienceThe Unity of Knowledge
Industrial Agriculture 
Peter Golob Crop Post-Harvest Handbook Volume 1: Principles and Practice
Eric Schlosser Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Michael Maren The Road to Hell  The ravaging effects of foreign aid and international charity
Steven Stoll The Fruits of Natural Advantage: Making the Industrial Countryside in California
Richard Street Beasts of the Field. A Narrative History of California Farmworkers, 1769-1913.
Richard Walker The Conquest of Bread. 150 years of Agribusiness in California.
Julie Guthman Agrarian dreams. The paradox of organic farming in California
Kimbrell (editor) Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture
Jim Hightower Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times: A report of the Agribusiness Accountability Project on the Failure of America’s Land Grant College Complex
Carolyn Johnsen Raising a Stink: The Struggle over Factory Hog Farms in Nebraska
The Future of Farming
John Jeavons How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine
Jim Bender Future Harvest: Pesticide-Free Farming
B. C. Mollison Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual
The Joys and Hardships of Family Farms
Mildred Kalish Little Heathens. Hard times & high spirits on an Iowa Farm during the great depression.
Barbara Greenwood  A Pioneer Sampler : The daily life of a pioneer family in 1840 (illustrated, good for tweens)
M. R. Montgomery A Cow’s Life  The Surprising History of Cattle
David Masumoto Epitaph for a Peach, Four Seasons on my Family Farm
Gene Logsdon The Contrary Farmer
Natural History
Susan McCarthy Becoming a Tiger: How baby animals learn to live in the wild
Carl Safina Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival
Robert Sapolsky A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons
Barry Lopez Of Wolves and Men
Holldobler & Wilson Journey to the Ants
Claude Combes The Art of Being a Parasite
James Gould Animal Architects: Building and the Evolution of Intelligence
Rolling Back the Clock: Who knows how far back civilization will go?
Steven Vogel Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle
Joanna  Stratton Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier
Ann Greene Horses at Work: Harnessing Power in Industrial America
Richard White It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own.  A New History of the American West.
Stephen Ambrose Undaunted Courage.  Merriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West
Robert Massie Peter the Great: His Life and World
Barbara Tuchman Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century
Jean Gimpel Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages
George Huppert After the Black Death: A Social History of Early Modern Europe
How Rich Nations Steal From Poor Nations
Susan George Faith and Credit: The World Bank’s Secular Empire
Moises Naim Illicit.  How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats Are Hijacking the Global Economy (comment: the poor from the rich)
Stephen J. Pyne Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire
Stephen J. Pyne Burning Bush, A Fire History of Australia
Murry Taylor Jumping Fire.  A Smoke Jumper’s memoir of fighting wildfire
Inventing a New Society: What worked, what failed, and why?
Eleanor Agnew Back from the Land: How Young Americans Went to Nature in the 1970s and Why They Came Back
Mark Holloway Utopian Communities in America, 1680-1880
Robert Hine California‘s Utopian Colonies
Donald E. Pitzer America‘s Communal Utopias
Helena Norberg-Hodge Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh
What to do
Howard T. Odum The Prosperous Way Down: Principles and Policies
Ted Trainer The Alternative, Sustainable Society; the Simpler Way
Richard Heinberg The Oil Depletion Protocol : A Plan to Avert Oil Wars, Terrorism And Economic Collapse
Richard Heinberg Powerdown : Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World
Richard Heinberg The Party’s Over: Oil, war, and the Fate of Industrial Societies
James H  Kunstler The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century
Roscoe Bartlett Bartlett heads the peak oil caucus in the House of representatives  3 part series, 1st part: 
Gene Gerue How to find your ideal country home. A comprehensive guide.
Nick Reding Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town
Trashing the Planet
Thomas Hayden Trashing the Oceans 
W.Rathje & C.Murphy Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage. What our garbage tells us about ourselves
WorldWatch Institute State of the World 2016
Higher Education in America
Murray Sperber Beer and Circus: How Big-Time College Sports Is Crippling Undergraduate Education
Investment.  You can’t buy your way out of ecological collapse, but you might live longer if you prepare, which requires money
Nicole Foss A Century of Challenges.
Martin Weiss The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide.  How to Protect Your Savings, Boost Your Income, and Grow Wealthy Even in the Worst of Times
William Bonner 1) Financial Reckoning Day  2) Empire of Debt  The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis
Stephen Leeb The Oil Factor How oil controls the economy & your financial future
Van K. Tharp Safe Strategies for Financial Freedom
John R. Talbot The Coming Crash in the Housing Market
David / Tom Gardner The Motley Fool Investment Workbook (or anything else that makes sense of 10K’s and annual reports)
Death by a thousand cuts.  
Donella Meadows The Limits to Growth: The 30 year update
Edward O. Wilson 1)  The Future of Life      2) The Diversity of Life
Rick Weiss Ocean species depleted by fishing: Worldwide numbers down 90 percent since the 1950s  May 15, 2003 Washington.Post
Chris Bright Life out of Bounds: BioInvasion in a Borderless World
Laurie Garrett The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance
Dan Fagin Toxic Deception: How the Chemical Industry manipulates science, bends the law, and endangers your health
Jennifer Viegas 1,000 Times Too Many Humans?   
Tim Radford Two-thirds of world’s resources ‘used up’  
Hopfenberg & Pimentel Human population numbers as a function of food supply.   2001. Environ Dev Sustain 3(1):1-15
Sierra Club First Anniversary of Superfund Bankruptcy
Roger Segelken 40% of world deaths due to environment factors
Thomas Hayden Trashing the Oceans An armada of plastic rides the waves, & sea creatures are suffering         November 4
G. Luft & A. Korin Terrorism Goes to Sea            Nov/Dec 2004  Foreign Affairs
Globalization: will continue for quite a while into navigable ports. Containerized shipping made globalization possible, it will end when these behemoths rust apart.
Marc Levinson The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger
Preservation of Knowledge: I hope you put some of these books on your shelves so our descendants know what really happened.  Future political and religious leaders will try to profit and maintain power with their own versions of events.   Hungry, crazed, non-educated people will believe it was caused by demons, sin, God, blacks, Jews, Mormons, liberals, government, etc.
Alice Friedemann Peak Oil and the Preservation of Knowledge


Please follow and like us:
This entry was posted in Book List, Books and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.