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.