As scientists warn of the potentially devastating effects of climate change and about a mass extinction that is already underway, few subjects hold greater urgency than the environmental plight of our planet.

Excellent books on the topic are proliferating today. But one book that still holds tremendous sway and which serves as a model for present-day writers is Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring. Published in 1962, this groundbreaking publication documented the destructive use of pesticides. It led to worldwide bans on DDT. Beyond that, Silent Spring was praised by critics for its superior prose and engaging style that enthralled a generation. It remains required reading.

No. 2 on our list of “must-read” environment books is No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by the young Greta Thunberg. This Swedish girl has gained international celebrity and nearly won a Nobel Prize for her remarkable effort to raise awareness about the dangers of climate change. The book is directed at young readers but is an eye-opening read for people of all ages. It bears dire warnings but also an inspiring and hopeful call to action.

No. 3 was penned by Canadian indigenous political leader Sheila Watt-Cloutier. A member of the Inuit tribe, she wrote The Right to Be Cold to protect her community’s way of life. She describes how climate change is altering the frigid Arctic realm that is the home of her people. That and organic pollutants are endangering the food chain which the Inuit still rely upon to live and maintain their culture.

No. 4 is a new book about one of America’s most legendary naturalists, John Muir. The book is titled, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir. Known as “America’s first environmentalist,” Muir was the founder of the Sierra Club. This book about Muir’s life by John Worster was put together using the letters of Muir and his many private correspondences. It offers a fascinating insight into a man who created the American conservation movement.

The final book on our list is Unbowed by Wangari Maathi. Founder of the Green Belt Movement, Maathi is a native of Kenya. She writes about her childhood in Africa and battling political oppression. She teaches women to create their own jobs with beekeeping, forestry and other sustainable trades.