Friday 12 October 2012

Hell and High Water by Alastair MacIntosh

This is a book about climate change, but one with a difference. While the first half of the book presents the science and facts, the second looks at how the human condition is tied in with climate change. McIntosh argues that we need to reclaim our spirituality and re-connect with nature in a meaningful way before we can have any hope of sorting out the challenges of climate change. While I can't argue with that, I was less than impressed by the second half of the book. Perhaps it's because I'm already well read on the issues and because I try to both live a relatively low consumption life and to maintain my connections with nature, but I felt that these arguments were too general. I felt McIntosh (who is a well respected thinker and activist in the environmental field) could have discussed more specific measures to ensure that people could find a way to directly combat climate change by reconnecting with nature. Instead I felt we're offered a general nice way of rediscovering a natural spirituality that might somehow rub off on helping reduce our carbon footprint.

If you are interested in climate change and natural spirituality, you may well find this book useful and interesting. It includes for example some interesting discussion of climate change and culture. Just don't expect to find a blueprint for how to reduce your carbon footprint.

When I picked this book up, I had hoped I would be able to give it a glowing review, but unfortunately not. My attitude in general is, if I can't be mostly positive about a book, I don't review it on this blog. However I felt that this book is at least starting to uncover a vital area that could hold the key to finding a solution to one of the most pressing issues of our time and so deserves a review, despite my reservations.

Interestingly this book doesn't contain any information on environmental criteria connected with its production. Equally interesting, the book, which, though second hand, is relatively recently published, is already starting to literally fall apart, so it isn't as sustainably produced as it could be.

Hell and High Water, Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition by Alastair McIntosh, published by Birlinn.

I also recently read and reviewed Marianne Wheelaghan's excellent The Blue Suitcase on my Over Forty Shades blog. 

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other websites where you can find out more.


Carver said...

That sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to check it out.

Unknown said...

I, too, was less than impressed with this book when I read it a few years ago. It started off as one thing and morphed into another.

I also heard Mr MacIntosh speak just after the book was released, and he seemed far more persuasive and erudite in person, while still leaving me with the nagging feeling that there was no real substance to what he was saying. This has happened once before - at a Festival of Politics event the audience was told at the end of a session sponsored by Christian Aid that we can defeat climate change by reconnecting with god and praying more. No other solution was offered.

The Weaver of Grass said...

To be honest Juliet - that title puts me off for a start - it is far too long and non-specific. For a book like this to hold your attention it has got to be dynamic.

Ms Sparrow said...

Before the general population can embrace keeping a low carbon footprint, it has to made specific in an easy-to-follow and positive manner. It has to be shown to be the sensible thing to do for ourselves, not for some esoteric ideal. It sounds like this book doesn't do that.

RG said...

It's a non-topic so far in our Presidential campaign!