Coping with the climate crisis is the greatest challenge we face as a species. We know the main task is to reduce our emissions as rapidly as possible to minimise the harm to the world's population now and for generations to come. What on earth can philosophy offer us?
In this compelling account of a problem we think we know inside out, the philosopher Graham Parkes outlines the climatic predicament we are in and how we got here, and explains how we can think about it anew by considering the relevant history, science, economics, politics and, for the first time, the philosophies underpinning them. Introducing the reality of global warming and its increasingly dire consequences, he identifies the immediate obstructions to coping with the problem, outlines the libertarian ideology behind them and shows how they can be circumvented.
Drawing on the wisdom of the ancients in both the East-Asian and Western traditions (as embodied in such figures as Confucius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Dogen, Plato, Epicurus, Marcus Aurelius and Nietzsche), Parkes shows how a greater awareness of non-Western philosophies, and especially the Confucian political philosophy advocated by China, can help us deal effectively with climate change and thrive in a greener future. If some dominant Western philosophical ideas and their instantiation in politics and modern technology got us into our current crisis, Parkes demonstrates persuasively that expanding our philosophical horizons will surely help get us out.
Introductions (Background and Book)
Part One Reality & Alternatives
1. The Reality of Global Heating
2. Specious Promethean Solutions
Part Two Covert Operations, Outrageous Obstructions
3. The Rise of the Libertarians
4. The Financial Clout of Fossil Fuels
5. The Political Power of the Religious Right
Part Three Finer Philosophies & Fairer Politics
6. Libertarian Limitations, Religion's Contributions
7. Political Philosophies, Greek and Chinese
Part Four Lower Consumption, Higher Fulfilment
8. Sage Advice from the Ancients
9. A Good Life with Congenial Things
Inconclusions (What and How?)
Suggestions for Further Reading
Graham Parkes is Professorial Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Vienna, Austria. For over thirty years he has taught environmental philosophies and Asian and comparative thought at UC Santa Cruz, the University of Hawaii, and universities in China, Japan, and Europe. He is the editor of Nietzsche and Asian Thought (1991) and author of Composing the Soul: Reaches of Nietzsche's Psychology (1994).
"[T]his is an original and thoughtful book that genuinely has something new to say about the climate crisis, consumerism, and our relationship to the world more generally."
– The Earthbound Report
"How to Think About the Climate Crisis draws on philosophical, political, and environmental sources and stands out within the growing climate-change literature."
"An extremely well-written and passionate argument for action on climate change. Importantly, Parkes directly addresses the "China question", and goes beyond the political, philosophical, and moral Eurocentrism that characterizes much of the current debate."
– Hans Georg Moeller, Professor of Philosophy, University of Macau, China
"Parkes here explores Confucianism and Daoism, not as some exotic relic of the "Oriental" past to be quixotically commended as a "solution" to the current environmental crisis-as did writers in the 1970s and '80s with such titles as "Tao Now!" Rather, Confucianism, Parkes persuasively argues, is the worldview of the ruling party in China, which is "communist" in name only. And he finds that foundational Western thought – e.g. Christianity as Pope Francis understands it and Plato's Republic – resonates with Confucian and Daoist ideas. Such a confluence could be the basis of an international consensus about reality and governance on which to begin to cope with global warming."
– J. Baird Callicott, University Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, University of North Texas, USA