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A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming

Author: Michael S Northcott
Published By: Darton, Longman and Todd/Christian Aid (London)
Pages: 336
Price: £12.95
ISBN: 978 0 232 52668

Reviewed by David Faulkner.

Michael Northcott is Professor of Ethics at New College, Edinburgh, a trustee of Traidcraft and an ordained Anglican priest. One of his specialisms is climate change, and so he is well placed to write this timely and much-needed book.

He has no truck with those who doubt the scientific evidence for global warming, and human responsibility for it. He traces historically the way free market capitalism has depleted fossil fuels and alienated humankind from the earth. Furthermore, he links this with troubling Old Testament precedents, such as Solomon’s excessive use of cedar wood in the building of his temple. The common thread is that imperial dominion causes ecological destruction in order to maintain itself.

However, Northcott does not have a ‘downer’ on Scripture. He also expounds the implications in biblical thought for economic justice, relationships and a healthier rhythm of life. Thus he ends up with proposals that neither leave everything to the scientists and politicians, nor reduce everything to little more than installing energy-saving light bulbs. The scientists are needed, but so are the ordinary people, and he envisages a grassroots movement which the Church can help lead. In addition, he has already faced for himself the challenges he issues to us. He scrapped his car during the writing of this book, and calls fellow scholars to interact on the Internet in preference to flying to international conferences.

Finally, you need not take my word that this is an important and worthwhile contribution to this vital issue. The Foreword is by none other than Sir John Houghton, former co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This book is well worth your money and your time.

David Faulkner

Methodist Minister, Chelmsford Circuit

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You are reading Issue 42 of Ministry Today, published in March 2008.

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