The World We Need

Stories and Lessons from America’s Unsung Environmental Movement
Edited by:

The inspiring people and grassroots organizations that are on the front lines of the battle to save the planet

“The rich stories and images collected in The World We Need take us on a journey to seemingly disparate corners of the country—from Alaska to Puerto Rico to New York City. Yet they are woven together in the movement for environmental and climate justice.” —from the introduction by Ana Isabel Baptista

As the world’s scientists have come together and declared a “climate emergency,” the fight to protect our planet’s ecological resources and the people that depend on them is more urgent than ever. But the real battles for our future are taking place far from the headlines and international conferences, in mostly forgotten American communities where the brutal realities of industrial pollution and environmental degradation have long been playing out.

The World We Need provides a vivid introduction to America’s largely unsung grassroots environmental groups—often led by activists of color and the poor—valiantly fighting back in America’s so-called sacrifice zones against industries poisoning our skies and waterways and heating our planet. Through original reporting, profiles, artwork, and interviews, we learn how these activist groups, almost always working on shoestring budgets, are devising creative new tactics, building sustainable projects to transform local economies, and organizing people long overlooked by the environmental movement—changing its face along the way.

Capturing the riveting stories and hard-won strategies from a broad cross section of pivotal environmental actions—from Standing Rock to Puerto Rico—The World We Need offers a powerful new model for the larger environmental movement, and inspiration for concerned citizens everywhere.


“[An] illuminating anthology. . . . Lim crisscrosses the country and selects her profile subjects wisely, resulting in an invigorating survey that breaks down stereotypes about tree-hugging coastal elites and highlights just how much change can be achieved at the local level. Progressive policy makers and environmental activists should take note.”
Publishers Weekly
“This is a truly important book, piecing together the story of what is, cumulatively, a massive uprising for environmental justice. I’ve gotten to know and work with many of these activists, and everyone should get a charge of optimism from their stories, as well as a sense of the daunting odds they face down so skillfully. We use the word ‘heroes’ a little loosely sometimes, but these people surely are!”
—Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
“This book is a testament to the idea that choosing people over profits is environmental justice.”
—Catherine Coleman Flowers, author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret and a 2020 MacArthur “genius” fellow
“A gripping new anthology. . . . [The World We Need] expertly shows how and why environmental science and social justice activism must work together.”

Goodreads Reviews