Journal of Lutheran Ethics Book Review Introduction June/July 2019

[1] In this issue our book and resource reviews are focused on climate change.  In an interdisciplinary approach, ethicists review works prompted by science and produced by journalists and a natural historian.

[2] Stewart Herman reviews and compares two recent books, The End of Ice by Dahr Jamail (2019) and The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells (2019).  Herman brings an ethicist's eye and a theological lens to these two works on climate change written by journalists. Weaving themes of apocalypse and spirit into his reviews, Herman finds that Jamail's lament for the melting cryosphere (the world of glaciers and icy mountains) is compelling.  Though Jamail's hope is eclipsed by grief, he forges on with his frontline reporting in a kind of "union with life itself."  Bringing science and its implications to the public, Jamail remains convinced that his work is worth doing, no matter how things turn out. 

[3] David Wallace Well's book, on the other hand, brings both prophetic indictment and hope. Herman appreciates the way Wells brings to life the devastating science of twelve cascading destructions, but critiques Wells' optimism about human agency, finding far more compelling Wells' creative probing of the implications of climate change on the future of storytelling, capitalism, and technology. 

[4] Herman concludes with his own turn to the value of an apocalyptic message that in its very negation of confidence in human initiative, frees our spirits to imagine the impossible –deliverance—thereby liberating energy for us to go beyond what we thought possible, even when we have no idea how it will end.

[5] In the final review, Nancy Arnison moves away from books to introduce a powerful audio-visual resource on climate change – David Attenborough's eight-part Netflix series, Our Planet.

Nancy Arnison

Book Review Editor

Articles published in the journal reflect the perspectives and thoughts of their authors and not necessarily the theological, ethical, or social stances of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.​

© June/July 2019
​Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 19, Issue 3