Climate Coping: Book Discussions & Information

Climate Coping

Book Discussions & Information

 Those who attended our 2019 fall community conference in Ithaca heard Rebecca Ruggles’ moving presentation, “Dealing with climate change emotions.” Following a brief presentation, she led the audience through a short but searing exercise in which we talked to the person next to us about our deepest fear about climate change. When we all reported back to the room at large, many were losing composure when sharing their discussions. Even those of us who feel that we are tough, unafraid of the changes to come and their impacts, are perhaps lying to ourselves.

Depiction of climate extremes. Hand holding globe one half of which is hot, one cold.

(Image credit: ParabolStudio / Shutterstock)

Climate change emotions are bringing many of us down, especially in the winter months when folks are isolated indoors, and the days are darker. To gather people together, talk about what ails us, and consider the actions we can take, we are starting a book reading and discussion group. The first book we will discuss is The World Without Us (2007) by Alan Weisman.

This book provides an interesting frame for examining our feelings about how humans are changing our ecosystems and atmosphere. The author asks: What would happen if humans were to suddenly, en masse, disappear from the earth? We’ll pick a couple of chapters for our initial focus, such as “Polymers are Forever” and “Wings Without Us”. Some of Weisman’s findings are chilling, while others give grounds for hope that our precious planet Earth can regenerate itself if we only get out of the way.

If interest is sufficient, we can offer meetings via Zoom that you can link to via your laptop or phone. This way you can participate at a distance. We will discuss other books through the year.

Please contact Rebecca Ruggles and she will let you know when and where our next meeting is being held. Rebecca works with the Interfaith Center for Action and Healing .

Where you can find copies of The World Without Us

  • At several branches of the Finger Lakes Library system:
  • Online at the official website
  • In Ithaca – try Autumn Leaves Books (607-273-8239) and Buffalo Street Books (607-273-8246). And other Ithaca-based bookstores!
  • In Waterloo – Book Warehouse at Waterloo Premium Outlets (315-539-3182).
  • Online, you can order used copies via and other sites.

Recent articles/books about climate change emotions and taking action

Note: Please send other re/sources to for sharing at our website. Thanks.

“How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change” The New York Times 1/12/2020:
Emma Marris, author of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World (2013).

Eaarth – Making a Living on a Tough New Planet. Bill McKibben (2013):

“The Merchants of Thirst” The New York Times  1/12/2020:

Peter Schwartzstein and Rajita Adhikari, international reporters.

“Why Is America So Depressed?” The New York Times 1/02/2020:
Lee Siegel, author of  The Draw: A Memoir (2017).

“Democracy Grief Is Real” The New York Times 12/13/2019:
Michelle Goldberg, NYT Op-Ed columnist.

“The Age of American Despair” The New York Times 09/07/2019:
Ross Douthat, NYT Op-Ed columnist.

“Is There a Cure for My Climate Grief?” The New York Times 11/15/2019:
Cara Buckley, NYT reporter.


Memorial text at site  of former glacier saying "This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it."