A Political Theology of Climate Change
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Much current commentary on climate change, both secular and theological, focuses on the duties of individual citizens to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels. In A Political Theology of Climate Change, however, Michael Northcott discusses nations as key agents in the climate crisis.

Against the anti-national trend of contemporary political theology, Northcott renarrates the origins of the nations in the divine ordering of history. In dialogue with Giambattista Vico, Carl Schmitt, Alasdair MacIntyre, and other writers, he argues that nations have legal and moral responsibilities to rule over limited terrains and to guard a just and fair distribution of the fruits of the earth within the ecological limits of those terrains.

As part of his study, Northcott brilliantly reveals how the prevalent nature-culture divide in Western culture, including its notion of nature as "private property," has contributed to the global ecological crisis. While addressing real difficulties and global controversies surrounding climate change, Northcott presents substantial and persuasive fare in his Political Theology of Climate Change.


Michael S. Northcott is professor of ethics at the University of Edinburgh. His previous books include The Environment and Christian Ethics and A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming.


"Northcott's impressive synthesis of the climate science with critiques of the modern worldview is no small feat. He has taken a significant step in the task of identifying the deeper drivers of the climate crisis."

Englewood Review of Books
"A riveting in-depth analysis of both anthropogenic climate change and theological reflection on creating. . . . With wisdom and clarity, Michael Northcott pushes the reader to know the truth about climate change and see the Christian vision of the restoration of all things as leading the way to a better political theology of climate change."

Modern Believing
"An intellectual tour de force. . . . [Northcott's] message is uncompromisingly prophetic. It deserves the widest possible audience."

Books at a Glance
"Makes a compelling case for the fact that we face climate problems not simply because of scientific problems or political problems but because of theological developments that found and fund a certain way of relating to the world. . . . Theologians from various perspectives can find wisdom here, as well as relevant challenges that any Christian thinking about climate change must confront."

John Milbank
-- University of Nottingham
"This book offers us a new level of seriousness in developing a theological ecology. . . . Michael Northcott has the unusual intelligence to be able to see the link between `soft' green issues on the one hand and `hard' issues of international relations theory on the other. . . . If we are not once more to resort to an oppressive mode of imperialism which is only likely to speed up global warming, then we have to discover a more cultural and consensual mode of international collaboration, within a horizon of virtue. Since any such collaboration must take a substantive form, the role of the church here remains crucial."

Oliver O'Donovan
-- University of Edinburgh
"Michael Northcott has devoted the best part of his career to understanding the problems of the environment and climate from a theologian's viewpoint, but this is no repetition of what he has said before. A Political Theology of Climate Change is the book he has been working towards, and he here achieves a powerful synthetic integration of scientific findings and policy questions with a theology of creation and eschaton and with philosophical and political critiques of modernity. This is a book to persuade us that the climate is not just a problem to be solved, but a question to be reflected on deeply, searching deep into the relation between mankind and its creator."

Norman Wirzba
-- Duke Divinity School
"In this wide-ranging, compelling book Northcott shows why it is a great mistake to think that weather is a topic of concern only to farmers and gardeners. Anthropogenic climate change -- and all the pain and suffering it will bring to humanity and fellow creatures -- is a profound challenge to theological reflection in all of its forms because what is at stake is nothing less than hope for life that honors the gift of creation and gives glory to God. Drawing on the latest scientific research on climate and energy, Northcott develops an ambitious political theology that has the potential to bring healing to our lands and our communities. This book is a wake-up call."

Bruno Latour
-- Paris Institute of Political Studies
"Drawing on the vast resources of Christian spirituality and of the much more recent climate sciences, Michael Northcott continues to bring alive the most implausible hybrid -- a carbon theology! By reawakening the dormant meaning of Incarnation, he also provides new energy for an ecological movement that could learn to thrive on the long tradition of political theology. This book helps us understand how all the outdated values of the past might be our last chance to still have a future."

Theology Today
"Northcott offers a compelling analysis and searing critique of the underlying political, social, and economic basis for climate change and the ineffectual political and economic attempts, such as the Kyoto Protocol and carbon emissions trading, to harness the human addiction to carbon-based forms of energy production. . . . An interesting and insightful theological analysis of global climate change."

Library Journal (STARRED review)
"Northcott, one of the most vocal and eloquent writers on the morality of ecological awareness, makes a passionate and scholarly case against the increasing abuse of our planet's environment and for the revolutionary change necessary to stop it. . . . His far-reaching writing brilliantly calls us all to account and to a deeper discipleship. Churches, pastors, and individuals, Christians or not, will respond."

Presbyterian Outlook
"This may be Northcott's most important book. It is both a haunting portrayal of the realities of climate change and hopeful in the proposal of a cultural theological shift. . . . Compelling and, at times, page-turning."

Choice (American Library Association)
"Northcott presents in a compelling fashion the salient scientific information regarding climate change that could bring on an environmental catastrophe. . . . He successfully weaves together and grounds his study in historical, theological, political, and moral reflections on how people of faith can respond to the challenge. . . . The book ends on a strong and realistic sense of hope. Recommended."

"The most comprehensive, ambitious, and demanding volume on the combined subject of theology and climate change. Northcott culls from various sources across diverse disciplines and attendance at hearings on climate issues and proposed solutions. His theological and political commentary is especially compelling."