8 Contemporary Books on Global Challenges: Extinction, Farmland, Education

In preparing to create videos for the World of 7 Billion video contest, students must conduct background research on their selected global challenge. Articles and textbooks can present useful information to students, but reading contemporary books is another great way to explore the issues. Here is a list of books that go further in-depth on the challenges of extinction, available farmland, and global education.

The world is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction (#W7Bextinction)

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert explores biodiversity throughout our planet and the factors impacting ecosystems around the world. She investigates several species – some extinct, some threatened, but that are all feeling the influence of human population.

Scientist Edward Wilson evaluates the state of our global environment in The Future of Life. The book examines mass extinctions through history and identifies current threats to the natural world. Wilson lays out a plan and shares ideas to curb damage and restore the environment before it is too late.

Most of the world’s suitable farmland is already under cultivation (#W7Bfarmland)

Author Michael Pollan asks the question “What should we have for dinner” very thoroughly in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. In doing so, he examines the modern food chain, agricultural technology, food distribution, and how our diets and dinners have changed from the past.

Part 2 of Germs, Guns and Steel, and Chapter 16 in Collapse – both by Jared Diamond – discuss food production throughout history. Diamond gives well rounded examples of historical food production, farming, and the influence of agricultural technologies on societies.

1 in 10 primary school age children and 1 in 3 secondary age children are not enrolled in school (#W7Beducation)

In I am Malala, Malala Yousafzai recounts her near-death encounter after being shot because she was simply going to school. In this book, she clearly explains the importance of an education as a natural right to all. Malala is now an international figure and a strong advocate for education all around the world.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WunDunn have written two books on this topic – Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, and A Path Appears: Transforming lives, Creating Opportunity. Both books explore struggles women face around the world and highlight individuals that are making a difference in their own communities. In A Path Appears, the authors give plenty of examples through stories of local initiatives around the world that serve to not only inspire, but to fix persistent community-specific issues. A common denominator in all of the initiatives is that education should be at the forefront of any effort working towards change.