Books, Websites and Documentaries

Climate change, the environment and sustainability cover a huge range of topics that are relevant to all areas of our lives.

There are many excellent resources to learn more about general or specific issues.


Below are a few of the books that the Sustainable Epsom and Ewell team have read. Most of this reading material was borrowed making use of the excellent Surrey Libraries and in particular their Libraries App. Via the app you can search and reserve any title available within the whole of Surrey Libraries catalogue and get it delivered to your library of choice. The app lets you track the progress of your reservation on line and when it is available for collection. For this service there is a charge of 75p for adult books only – this was waived during lockdown. Below are some titles that got us thinking.

Wilding- the return of nature to a British farm. Isabella Tree

An upbeat and positive account of an ecological success story on our doorstep. This is the account of “rewilding” of a farm in Sussex. A real life account of letting nature recover through enhancement of natural processes and letting mother nature take over. Knepp Estate shows us that nature can recover if we give it the chance. Rewilding is a form of environmental conservation and ecological restoration that has significant potential to increase biodiversity, create self-sustainable environments and mitigate climate change. Further information and existing projects can be found at and A rare success story and a glimmer of hope . [AP]

Drawdown- the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. Paul Hawken

This is an engaging and stimulating book detailing existing technologies and measures that need to be implemented to limit global warming. It is the result of an international coalition of researchers, scientists and policy makers coming together to develop solutions. What I take from this book is that we already have all the technological solutions available to us now to reduce carbon emissions. Simple measures such as limiting HCFC, increasing composting, reducing soil tilling and investing in girls’ education can play key roles in maintaining our carbon budget. [AP]

How we got into this Mess ? George Monbiot

Based on a series of essays, this book discuses the changes needed in our everyday lives, our politics and economics, including the ways we treat each other and the natural world required to restore balance. This is a good introduction to a variety of climate and environment related issues from which to base further research and reading. [AP]

This changes everything. Naomi Klein

This book did really change everything for me! Probably the book I would recommend as an opening gambit to understand the workings of the fossil fuel industry and the economic systems in place globally. Naomi Klein sets out the scientific case for urgent action on climate change and argues passionately that we need a revolution in our entire economic system to resolve the Climate Crisis. [AP]

The Running Hare- The Secret Life of Farmland. John Lewis-Stemple

More of an environment and ecosystems themed book. This book opened my eyes to soil ecology and how linked all processes are, for example the plight of our native wild flowers birds such as corn bunting and mammals through modern intensive farming techniques. Lewis-Stemple recounts his actions to restore wildlife and fertility through traditional practices. Since I have read other books by Lewis-Stemple and all have been enjoyable. It is also a book I have gifted regularly. [AP]

Silent Spring- Rachel Carson

An oldie but a goody! Published in 1962, the chemist Rachel Carson calls out the devastating direct and cumulative effects of pesticides on the natural world. A world that falls silent in spring due to collapsing insect populations a food source for birds and other species. This book is hard going. Whilst it has served in raising the alarm ( and is credited for getting DDT banned), it highlights the huge battles and remaining risks to our and the natural worlds caused by pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and all other manner of chemicals we readily pump into our natural environment. A grim but essential read. [AP]

How bad are bananas- Mike Berners Lee

A quick easy read, full of interesting facts and tips useful to get us thinking about the footprint of our everyday actions. It has some surprising facts about some of our most common consumption items from the carbon equivalent emission of a google search to the carbon cost of a banana compared to beef! Have a read you will be surprised. [AP]

Hope in Hell - Jonathan Porritt

We have got ourselves into a fine mess these past 50 years, but Jonathan Porritt brings together a host of reasons to be optimistic about the future in his latest book. There have been some scary wake-up calls, unprecedented floods, fires and degradation of biodiversity but not all politicians have ignored their message. It’s not just science and technology, businesses, ngos and faiths that are embracing the call to answer the climate emergency. Young people – our future leaders - are raging against the complacency of the old regimes. Of course, it’s not that simple, there’s no assurance that we’ll counter the tipping point in time, but let’s support their fight for a sustainable world, a morally just transition. It’s a hell of a struggle but in it, there’s hope. [JB]

A Trillion Trees: How We Can Reforest Our World - Fred Pearce

Fred’s message is, we need to massively increase the number of trees across the planet, but we need not fret over planting them. Trees have their own systems and connections and knowledge to manage this planting themselves. ‘Nature does it better.’ Our role is to not impede them, to just stand aside, give trees the space they need and allow the forests to grow back. Thus the Sahel has 200 million more trees since tree ‘management’ stopped, and crop yield has increased with this greening. [JB]

Documentaries and Films

Below are a few suggested documentaries:

Food Inc, (2008). An unflattering look at the corporate food industry in the US. An eye opener! Available on Amazon Prime.

Seaspiracy: (2020) Documentary on the fishing industry. There has been criticism from some about the angles of this documentary, but despite these it is still a useful documentary to watch and highlights the many issues facing fish stocks and our seas. Food for thought in any case. ( Available on Netflix).

The biggest little farm: (2018)- documentary film about a couple transforming an arid farm near Los Angeles back into a more functional and diverse landscape that supports people and biodiversity. Available on Amazon Prime.

2040 film. (2019). Film produced by Damon Gameau an Australian filmmaker and campaigner. A documentary about new approaches and solutions to the climate crisis.

One planet: (2019) Series by our very own David Attenborough. 7 worlds and one planet. A look at our natural environment with a focus on the challenges it faces with a particular focus on the impacts of Climate Change and humans. Free to view on BBC iplayer.

I am Greta: (2019). Documentary about the campaigner Greta Thunberg who brought us the School Climate Strikes and assisted in raising the profile of the Climate Change agenda. Free to view on BBC iplayer.

Climate Change: Ade on the front line (2020). Presenter Ade Adepitan travels to the frontline of climate change looking at how communities are impacted and potential solutions. Free to view on BBC iplayer.


Below are a few suggested websites which cover environmental topics .

BBC Future- Planet

Collation of news stories looking at the ways the world can become a more sustainable place.

Climate Home News

News stories covering climate change with a particular focus on Europe and the EU.

Positive News

This website covers “good” news categorised in Science, wellbeing, environment , society etc.

The Daily Climate

Independent website publishing and curating journalism articles on environmental topics. This website is US focused (some articles they share are inaccessible to Europeans) but there are nonetheless lots of interesting articles. They also have a weekly “Good News” newsletter you can sign up to when climate anxiety gets a bit too much.

The Guardian

The Guardian’s environmental section is extensive and regularly updated. All articles are free to view and read. It is worth installing the app for easy access or consulting the following website :