Mark Tercek reading books on the environment

The 10 Best Books on Nature and the Environment

An environmental journey, as told through books

The Quick Rundown

Every day it seems more people want to join the environmental movement. This is great news.  My advice? The journey of 1000 miles begins with a few good books. I note below those that had the biggest impact on my personal trajectory, and I hope you’ll share yours so we can all go further together.

A Humble Beginner (With a Lot to be Humble About) 

When I joined the Nature Conservancy in 2008, I expected a steep learning curve. I had been working on environmental matters for a few years on Wall Street, so I wasn’t an absolute neophyte. But leading the world’s biggest conservation NGO would demand much more. So I did everything I could to learn as much as possible, including preparing very carefully for all my meetings. I wanted my new colleagues to have confidence in me. 

Our Chief Scientist Peter Kareiva was an especially intimidating figure. He’s a really nice guy, and he’s also one of those brilliant people who reads and knows everything. It seemed there was nothing he didn’t know about nature, conservation, science, and the environment. So I tried especially hard to be well-informed and smart in my meetings with him.  

I thought I was doing a decent job too, until Peter took me aside after one meeting and said “I see that there are some significant gaps in your knowledge about the work we do.” Whoops — my cover was blown.