Environmental Sustainability & Climate Change

Sustainability is an interdisciplinary lens that we use to consider how our exploitation of resources affects future generations. Sustainability research is vast and covers many subjects, including economic and equity impacts of human interactions with the natural environment. Increasingly, sustainability includes adapting to the effects of climate change and reducing the risks posed by climate extremes and variability.

Library Resources

Search Terms to Try

Sample search terms for getting started in OneSearch:


“climate change mitigation”

“climate justice”

“eco-anxiety” or “eco-grief”

“environmental racism”

“food waste”

“water quality”

Tip: If your search includes more than one word, enclose the whole phrase in quotes.

Reference Works

Browsing encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, and other reference works can help you explore and clarify relevant concepts as you begin your research.

Books available at the Research Help Desk (on the first floor of the Learning Commons):

E-books available online: 

Peer-reviewed Journals

Browse our complete journal list, or search directly in these Open Access journals to find peer-reviewed journal articles:


Web and News Sources


Newspapers & Current Events

Access The New York Times by creating an account using your Whatcom email address.

Check out the library’s information literacy tutorial on evaluating websites to examine the credibility of online sources.

Climatecentral.org reports scientific facts on climate change. 

The Repair podcast season from the Center for Documentary Studies explores the cultural roots of the climate crisis.

Episodes of the Climate Ready Podcast discuss water and climate change through stories and data from around the world. Produced by the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation.

Community Sources

Front and Centered published the Community Report on Environmental Justice in Washington State.

The Salish Sea Speaker Series videos (at bottom of linked page) share knowledge from Lummi Nation.

Sustainable Connections’ Climate Action Book Club meets three times a year.

Government Sources

Reports, Data, and Storytelling

“Grey literature” refers to information produced outside of traditional publishing systems.

Tribes, government bodies, and community organizations can offer critical information on local issues and understudied topics.

Grey literature is often not peer-reviewed; assess its authority when referencing it.

From the local level to the United Nations, government sources provide important scientific data and reports on climate change indicators, environmental justice, and government responses to sustainability issues.

Whatcom County and Washington

Whatcom County’s Climate Impact Advisory Committee wrote the revised Whatcom County Climate Action Plan, adopted in November 2021. This document reports on climate change impacts on agriculture, water, fisheries, forests, and ecosystems. It provides strategies and actions for electricity, transportation, waste disposal, land use, and building to reduce emissions and adapt to the changing climate.

The Nooksack Indian Tribe Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Key Species and Habitats is a 2020 report that identifies ways to increase the climate resilience of priority natural and cultural resources in the Nooksack River watershed. This research considered different greenhouse gas scenarios and how they would impact species and habitats that are important to the Tribe.

This video features a community forum held in 2021 about this plan:

The Washington State Department of Ecology publishes reports on greenhouse gas emissions and shares real-time monitoring of air and water quality. Ecology’s online tools and databases include a flood hazard map, shoreline aerial photos through time, and a water quality atlas.

U.S. and International

Climate.gov includes a global climate dashboard and other interactive ways to visualize climate data, and the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. Published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 

Satellite images on the NASA Climate Change page show change over time as well as real-time global monitoring of indicators such as sea level, ozone, and soil moisture.

The Environmental Protection Agency offers an environmental justice screening tool. This can be used to map demographic and environmental-quality data and compare different areas within the U.S.

Globalchange.gov provides a library of reports from 13 federal agencies and other authoritative scientific bodies. This library allows filtering by region, topic, and year.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body that assesses science related to climate change. Its annual reports synthesize what science has found about how the climate is changing and future impacts.

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