Broken Covenant

A Moral Climate
The Ethics of Global Warming
Michael Northcott
Orbis Books, $20, 224 pp.

Michael Northcott has written a superb analysis of climate change and how it relates to technology, economics, and public-policy issues. More important, he has done it at a critical time and from a distinctively Christian perspective.

Northcott’s practical concern is how to maintain an acceptable level of carbon emissions in both the developed and the developing worlds. His ethical focus is on how to create a just and equitable approach to the physical environment itself. He makes clear that while most of the scientific arguments over global warming and climate change are now settled, the moral discussion lags in its infancy stage.

Northcott, a professor of ethics at the University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, writes convincingly of the urgent need to deal with climate change and its effects. In so doing, he offers an alternative to both despairing “doomsters” (who believe we are beyond the point of no return) and practitioners of denial (who choose either to look the other way or to assume naively that human ingenuity will come up with a technological fix for whatever threatens us). He takes both extremes seriously but directs his main discussion at the vast majority of people who sense there is a problem but aren’t sure how serious it is or how to address it. His approach is to frame the larger issues in terms of particular ecological challenges—for example, those facing a eucalyptus...

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About the Author

Stephen J. Pope is a professor of theology at Boston College. He is the author of Human Evolution and Christian Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2007).