6 Must-Read Books on Contemporary Global Challenges

This year’s World of 7 Billion student video contest topics are Deforestation, Public Health, and Water Scarcity. In doing research and preparation for creating their videos, students may consider reading some contemporary books on their selected topic to explore the issues.

Books on Deforestation

The Legacy of Luna by Julia Butterfly Hill
The story of Julia Butterfly Hill and her effort to save a forest of ancient redwood trees that were due to be cut for lumber. The narrative follows her life living in the tree canopy while protesting the removal of the trees. The book speaks to civil action, protest, activism, and the importance of the environmental movement in specific causes.

On the Edge: The State and Fate of the World’s Tropical Rainforests by Claude Martin
A technical look at deforestation and the effects of cutting trees around the world. Starting in the 1970s, it details people’s increasing awareness that world resources are limited and related threats to the rainforests that offer mankind so much – biodiversity, carbon sinks, medical advances, regulating global water and air cycles, and climate change. The book gives an up-to-date picture of the health of tropical forests, and details how urbanization, a global economy, politics, economics, and a worldwide demand for biofuels put new pressures on rainforest land for better and for worse.

Books on Public Health

More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want by Bob Engleman
This book examines connections between population, nature, and women’s autonomy. The book looks at different points throughout history that proved to be pivotal moments of change, and how the choices we make today will affect the future of our planet. The book also covers sanitation, maternal and reproductive health throughout history, and the importance of education, especially for girls.

Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin
A true story about a New Jersey river. After toxic waste was dumped into a river for decades, a massive legal settlement brings to light the chemicals dumped into the river were the cause of an abundance of cancer cases in local residents. The book details the importance of environmental oversight in booming industrial towns by telling the 60-year story of Toms River, and the local population’s resulting medical crisis.

Books on Water Scarcity

Chasing Water: A Guide for Moving from Scarcity to Sustainability by Brian Richter
Brian Richter, a writer/water expert from The Nature Conservancy, looks at water scarcity around the world, and examines the current approach to solve water issues. He identifies policy movements and pushes for legislative reforms versus collective action and activism.

When the Rivers Run Dry: Water – the Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century by Fred Pearce
Written by London journalist Fred Pearce, this book examines several countries and their differing situations with water sources. It’s a worrisome look at future water volatility around the world, and the potential impacts of drought, aquifer depletion, and future conflict due to water scarcity.