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Humanities 2014, 3(3), 299-312; doi:10.3390/h3030299

Climate Change and Virtue: An Apologetic

1 Department of Geography, King's College London, Strand WC2R 2LS, London, UK 2 Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Münich, Leopoldstr. 11a, Münich D-80802, Germany
Received: 28 April 2014 / Revised: 20 June 2014 / Accepted: 24 June 2014 / Published: 30 June 2014
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The prominent Australian earth scientist, Tim Flannery, closes his recent book Here on Earth: A New Beginning with the words “… if we do not strive to love one another, and to love our planet as much as we love ourselves, then no further progress is possible here on Earth”. This is a remarkable conclusion to his magisterial survey of the state of the planet. Climatic and other environmental changes are showing us not only the extent of human influence on the planet, but also the limits of programmatic management of this influence, whether through political, economic, technological or social engineering. A changing climate is a condition of modernity, but a condition which modernity seems uncomfortable with. Inspired by the recent “environmental turn” in the humanities—and calls from a range of environmental scholars and scientists such as Flannery—I wish to suggest a different, non-programmatic response to climate change: a reacquaintance with the ancient and religious ideas of virtue and its renaissance in the field of virtue ethics. Drawing upon work by Alasdair MacIntyre, Melissa Lane and Tom Wright, I outline an apologetic for why the cultivation of virtue is an appropriate response to the challenges of climate change.
Keywords: climate change; humanities; virtue; environmental politics; ethics; goodness climate change; humanities; virtue; environmental politics; ethics; goodness
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Hulme, M. Climate Change and Virtue: An Apologetic. Humanities 2014, 3, 299-312.

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