Free Green Science Textbooks

There are a multitude of things that come to mind when we talk about “Going Green.” It can refer to anything from recycling, leaving a smaller carbon footprint or alternative energy. To some it means sustainable living. The skill sets among green science practitioners varies from architects to engineers to biologists. Rather than scatter information everywhere across The Free Textbook List, I’ll be putting everything in this one general category that I’m calling Green Science.

Sadly, many proponents of “going green” have taken, shall we say, a bit of creative license with the facts. There are plenty of great reasons why we should embrace many of the ideas coming from the world of green science. Unfortunately, a number of studies have distorted or manufactured facts to provide momentum to what has become a bit of a political cause and a tremendous source of revenue.

My suggestion to students is that they should conduct their own research and make their own conclusions. Don’t simply accept “facts” because they appear in print. Question the numbers. Do you really think we have enough data to say something like “nearly 25% of the Earth’s bird species have gone extinct” during the last 2,000 years? That would presume that every bird species had been documented and identified in the year 15 A.D. and we know that only 75% remain.

Consider, the first recorded visit to the Gal├ípagos islands wasn’t until 1535. A lot of bird species were only first documented in the natural history books of the 17 and 1800s. It does appear that birds are going extinct faster now than they have in several hundred years. The actual number of birds that have gone extinct over the past 2,000 years could be far lower or even far higher than 25% – there’s simply no way of knowing for certain.

With such an emotionally-charged topic, I am simply trying to suggest that students should evaluate each of the green science materials with an eye to separating facts from hyperbole.

In the broadest sense, every textbook included on The Free Textbook List is a green textbook. After all, their very electronic formats are decidedly green and environmentally friendly.

List of Free Green Science Textbooks

An Introduction to Energy Sources

Written by: B. Viswanathan in association with the National Centre for Catalysis Research Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

Textbook written by Indian scholars; An Introduction to Energy Sources offers students a basic understanding of the different fuel sources and technologies.

Green Chemistry, 2nd Edition

Written by: Stanley Manahan (University of Missouri-Columbia)

Introductory green chemistry textbook where the focus is on sustainability and the 5 environmental spheres (biosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, anthrosphere).

Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry

Written by: Daniel J. Jacob (Harvard University)

This Harvard professor, Daniel J. Jacob, has built an Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry textbook from his lecture notes that is free for all students.

Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air

Written by: David MacKay (University of Cambridge)

A green energy textbook that looks at the real numbers behind each of the technologies often discussed as alternatives to fossil fuel use.

The Ethics of Sustainability

Written by: Charles J. Kibert, Leslie Thiele, Anna Peterson and Martha Monroe

The Ethics of Sustainability discusses how technology used to achieve ecological health, social equity and economic welfare, can have negative consequences.

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