John J. Berger

From Observatory

John J. Berger
Author. Journalist

John J. Berger is an environmental science and policy specialist, prize-winning author, and journalist.

Latest by this author

John J. Berger is an environmental science and policy specialist, prize-winning author of 11 books, journalist, and environmental consultant.

He has worked for the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, Fortune 500 corporations such as Chevron, nonprofit groups such as Friends of the Earth, and governmental organizations, including the Office of Technology Assessment of the United States Congress. Berger co-founded and directed the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and founded and directed the Restoring the Earth organization.

He was a visiting professor at University of Maryland, and has served as a consultant to corporations, utilities, and foundations. His articles have been published by Scientific American, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today Magazine, Resilience, LA Progressive, and Countercurrents.

Berger has authored and edited 11 books on energy and environmental issues, including Solving the Climate Crisis: Frontline Reports from the Race to Save the Earth, Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis, Climate Myths: The Campaign Against Climate Science, Restoring the Earth: How Americans Are Working to Renew Our Damaged Environment, and Charging Ahead: The Business of Renewable Energy and What It Means for America.

He is a graduate of Stanford and the University of California.

Why We Need It and How to Do It
TomDispatch | June 2024

While April and May are usually the hottest months in many countries in Southeast Asia, hundreds of millions of people are now suffering in South Asia from an exceptionally intense heat wave that has killed hundreds. One expert has already called it the most extreme heat event in history. Record-breaking temperatures above 122º F were reported in the Indian capital of New Delhi and temperatures sizzled to an unheard of 127º F  in parts of India and Pakistan.

Nor was the blazing heat limited to Asia. Heat waves of exceptional severity and duration are now occurring simultaneously in many areas of the world. Mexico and parts of the United States, notably Miami and Phoenix, have recently been in the grip of intense heat events. In southern Mexico, endangered howler monkeys in several states have been falling dead from trees in their tropical forests due to heat stroke and dehydration. Below-average rainfall throughout Mexico has led to water shortages in Mexico City and elsewhere. In some places, birds and bats, not to speak of humans, are also dying from the heat.

Main Street Journal | February 2024

This week’s interview is with John J. Berger, author of “Solving the Climate Crisis.” Much of the book is dedicated to things we all can do to address the disastrous changes occurring in our climate—including local investment. Berger recommends, among other things, investing in local companies specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, purchasing green municipal bonds, and setting up local cooperatives that take on many of the responsibilities of electric utilities.

Publications by this author
Frontline Reports From the Race to Save the Earth
Co-author: Senator Russ Feingold | Seven Stories Press | October 2023

Solving the Climate Crisis is a hopeful and critical resource that makes a convincing and detailed case that there is a path forward to save our environment. Illustrating the power of committed individuals and the necessity for collaborative government and private-sector climate action, the book focuses on three essential areas:

  • The technological dimension: move to 100% clean renewable energy as fast as we possibly can through innovations like clean-steel, “green” cement, and carbon-reuse companies;
  • The ecological dimension: enhance and protect natural ecosystems, forests, and agricultural lands to safely store greenhouse gases and restore soils, transforming how we grow, process, and consume food;
  • The social dimension: update and create new laws, policies and economic measures to recenter human values and reduce environmental and social injustice.

Based on more than 6 years of research, Berger traveled the nation and abroad to interview governors, mayors, ranchers, scientists, engineers, business leaders, energy experts, and financiers as well as carbon farmers, solar and wind innovators, forest protectors, non-profit leaders, and activists.

With real world examples, an explanation of cutting-edge technologies in solar and wind, and political organizing tactics, Solving the Climate Crisis provides a practical road map for how we effectively combat climate change. Replacing the fossil-fuel system with a newly invigorated, modernized, clean-energy economy will produce tens of millions of new jobs and save trillions of dollars. Protecting the climate is thus potentially the greatest economic opportunity of our time.

The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis
Co-authors: Anne Ehrlich and Paul R. Ehrlich | Northbrae Books | October 2014

Climate Peril, winner of the 2016 International Book Awards in the Science category, reveals that the impacts of climate change on our health, economy, and environment are far worseand more imminentthan many realize. The book identifies the obstacles to climate protection and shows why steep and unprecedentedyet affordablecuts in greenhouse gases are needed now to avert a global climate catastrophe. Berger portrays the radically altered world we will create in 2100 AD if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced and documents the rapid and unnatural climate change already taking place.

The book explores the major consequences of climate change, especially its ramifications for the economy, human health, other species, and the oceans. It warns of the billions of ton of carbon lurking in ocean sea beds and thawing permafrost and the global danger of crossing an invisible threshold beyond which catastrophic climate changes become inevitable.

While its conclusions are alarming, Climate Peril is a realistic and authoritative book that will help you better understand how climate change may affect you and your family.

The Campaign Against Climate Science
Co-author: John H. Adams | Northbrae Books | January 2013

Climate Myths is both a primer on climate change and a definitive rebuttal of climate science denial. The book can thus be used to help educate students, teachers, and the general public about the controversy over climate change.

Climate Myths puts the campaign against climate science in historical, political, and economic context and juxtaposes the claims of climate change deniers with the facts about climate change as revealed by authoritative climate science. Climate Myths dispels common misunderstandings about climate change and spotlights the companies, organizations, and individuals who have promoted climate myths in the course of their highly successful, multimillion dollar climate disinformation campaigns.

Drawing on the principles and achievements of climate science, Climate Myths summarizes the imminent threat of rapid climate change, pointing readers toward needed action.

Their Restoration and Protection
Co-author: Charles Little | Center for American Places | December 2008

Forests Forever provides a panoramic overview of critical issues in forest ecology, policy, and management, bringing together trenchant ideas from ecology, politics, sociology, economics and other fields. The book also provides a critical appraisal of the Bush administration’s forestry policies, while describing positive developments in forest protection in the U.S. and abroad.

The book tells how to live with forests without further damaging or destroying them, and how we can begin to repair the damage done. It proposes that forests be managed according to enduring ecological principles rather than short-term economic imperatives, and explains how the forest ecosystems operate and why they are so important for biodiversity. The book exposes what has gone wrong with the management of forests in America, what has gone right, and what can be done to change priorities.

The Business of Renewable Energy and What it Means for America
Co-author: Lester C. Thurow | University of California Press | September 1998

Charging Ahead foretells the world's next great energy transformation: the shift to clean, renewable energy sources. It shows how renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles, when used together, can give us back a clean environment and create a healthy, sustainable economy. In chronicling this extraordinary technological revolution, John J. Berger provides a fascinating look at the new industries that will make it possible, and the trillion-dollar benefits Americans can enjoy by choosing pollution-free energy and transportation.

How Americans Are Working to Renew Our Damaged Environment
Co-author: Morris K. Udall | Alfred A. Knopf and Doubleday | October 1985

Restoring the Earth introduces us to dedicated individuals and groups who have worked, and are working—privately, voluntarily, and often successfully—to repair and restore those damaged natural resources that are so crucial to our present well-being and our future: our water, our land, our wildlife, as well as the cities and towns in which we live.

Among the people we meet are a housewife who led the fight to clean up a river in Massachusetts… a California pharmacist who saved a redwood forest and who has, with the help of friends, planted 10,000 trees… a Pennsylvania mine inspector who repaired strip-mined lands… a Wisconsin architect who saved a town afflicted by severe floods and redesigned it as a flood-proof solar village, America’s first. We watch as a small town in Michigan takes on a giant multinational chemical company whose toxic wastes have poisoned their groundwater… as a plumber on Cape Cod works to transform a brush-choked ditch into a trout stream like the one Daniel Webster once enjoyed… and as a daring, imaginative group of biologists in California routinely risk their lives to rescue an endangered falcon species from extinction.

Finally we are offered proposalsfor making existing human settlements more ecologically sound as well as more enjoyable places to live in. Restoring the Earth goes beyond traditional conservation and preservationit offers the message that something really can be done about the pollution and destruction and waste familiar to all Americans. It should hearten those already committed to environmental causes and offer hope to those who think these problems are beyond solution.

Research areas


Have you signed up yet?

We’re building a guide for everyday life, where experts will educate you about our world.