Independently published, 2021 

ISBN: ‎ 979-8481224206

Reviewed by Chris Holmes

My motive in writing this book is to add the spiritual dimension to the debate about climate change. This is done by highlighting teachings from different spiritual traditions on how we should treat the Earth. In his inspiring introduction Chris Philpott sets out clearly the book’s intention and its structure.

It is divided into 4 parts; Part 1, the longest, focuses on the problems we face with the climate emergency in terms of extreme weather, food and water shortages, biodiversity loss and the effect on health. It shows how we have strayed from the wisdom which was – and is – available in our faith traditions.

Part 2 looks at what we can do in response to the emergency, i.e. how to be a green spiritual activist. Some familiar ground is covered with regard to the choices we can make in our behaviour, but then there are two really interesting chapters on protest movements and non-governmental organisations. Here Chris relates many of his personal experiences in activism and his own extraordinary breadth of activity which continues into his seventies.

Part 3 presents the future under two scenarios: where we manage to keep global warming to below 2 degrees centigrade (the ‘optimistic’ case we can just about live with), and where we allow it to go over 2 degrees which would be catastrophic. Despite the despair we may feel at the end of Part 3, Part 4 shows that there is hope and that a vital ingredient is the spiritual dimension. Here, as throughout, Chris serves up a heady mix of quotations (including the pagan and shamanic) showing the breadth and depth of wisdom available to us.

To embrace all of the faith traditions is no mean feat and Chris’s approach of using quotes from sacred books and significant individuals  means that we get exposure to much that we may be unfamiliar with and get a sense of how each of the faiths  relates to nature. Inevitably some problematic areas are left out – my own Christian faith has a very mixed history with regard to the Earth, though things have, thank goodness, shifted dramatically over recent decades. One other result of using quotations is that one realises just how male-dominated these faith traditions have been – though things are surely changing, albeit not fast enough.

In summary, this book gives an analysis of how we have reached our present plight, a clear statement of practical actions we can take, and (unlike many similar books) a powerful invitation to explore the wisdom inherent in our faith traditions. The possibility of exploration is facilitated by an abundance of references; I think I could spend several months working through the YouTube references alone.

The last page of the book (page 302) is an encouragement to list one’s personal pledges to help avoid climate catastrophe; an excellent way to conclude and one which I completed – appropriately – on January 1st!