Top Five Reads for an Environmental Science Major

Being an Environmental Science major is a bit like being an ecologist, you need to know a little bit of everything because one environmental problem can affect multiple areas of the biosphere. Soil contamination can affect water and consequently, air quality and detrimental elements can easily be cycled and transferred to completely different areas than they originated. Since environmental science is such a comprehensive field of study, here are the top five books for an environmental science major to read. Of course, the list is not complete because there is a constant need for new information to cure new problems that arise, but this is a good list nonetheless to get you started. I’ve found that these books provide a wide range of knowledge to help the environmental scientist pinpoint the area they’d like to gain extertise in.


Silent Spring

This is a classic book that every environmental science major should read. It started an entire environmental revolution and caused concerned citizens to question the safety of the chemicals we pump into our environment. This book was written by Rachel Carson in 1962. It brought up the concern of pesticide use and the role it played in pollution. Specifically, the book focuses on DDT, although the ideas are transferrable to many other environmental problems. This is a must-read, which is why it was placed first on the list.

The Omnivores Dillemna

This book is amazing, because it tackles the question of- Where does our food come from? It skillfully provides an in-depth description of what goes into modern agriculture and even devles into the topics of organic agriculture and sustainable agriculture, which are not as similar as you might think. This book provokes you to question the direction of food production in America and think about the best possible system for modern agriculture.

Flower Confidential

This book is surprising, because it takes a topic as seemingly frivilous as fresh-cut flowers and unravels an entire industry filled with a long-standing history, competition, and lots of flower breeding. My favorite story from this book is that of Leslie Woodriff and the Stargazer Lily. Woodriff was a bit of a hippie who adored breeding lilies and he happened to create one of the most sought-after lilies ever created. This book shows you how intricate any business is and even gives a new perspective of how unsustainable the big-business flower breeding can be.

Field Notes from a Catastrophe

This powerful book focuses on the topic of climate change. It’s an incredible read and I highly recommend it for both environmental scientists and the layman. Kolbert go delves deeply into the science behind climate change theories and lays it out in such a simple way that anyone can understand it. It’s a balanced view at a topic that attracts plenty of alarmists and nay-sayers, and it will leave you with a healthy understanding of the situation we currently find ourselves in.

The Prize

This book is quite the read and I will warn you- it’s a challenge to get through, but only because of how long it is. However, the information you’ll gain from reading this book in its entirity is, as the title says, the prize. This book discusses our global dependence on fossil fuels. It goes back to the Industrial Revolution and takes you through how our economy has become dependent on this resource. It explains the politics and science behind the fossil fuels industry in such elegance, that it’s truly worth the read.