Dr Mick Pope
A Climate of Justice: Loving Your Neighbour in a Warming World
Morning Star Publishing, 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0648164203

A Cimate of Justice 

 

"The main point that A Climate of Justice brings out is that climate change is a poverty issue and an issue of justice. Discussing in detail issues such as global poverty, the treatment of asylum seekers, the plight of our indigenous brothers and sisters, and how works of advocacy are vital for sustained change, Pope brings us the latest research to show how our changing climate is contributing to the difficulties people in these situations are facing."

Mick Pope has been researching, speaking and writing about climate change for many years. His PhD was in meteorology and in recent years he has been writing more in well-known Christian publications.

So, when I saw that he had written a book on the links between climate change and justice, I was keen to read about it from someone who can write about it with authority.

The main point that A Climate of Justice brings out is that climate change is a poverty issue and an issue of justice. Discussing in detail issues such as global poverty, the treatment of asylum seekers, the plight of our indigenous brothers and sisters, and how works of advocacy are vital for sustained change, Pope brings us the latest research to show how our changing climate is contributing to the difficulties people in these situations are facing.

Combined with this is a sound theological perspective and approach that shows beyond doubt that confronting the reality of environmental degradation is something that is central to the Gospel. The main analogy that Pope uses to do this is via a fascinating insight into the parable of the Good Samaritan. The discussion in chapter six on the context of the Roman Empire in the setting of the parable is captivating reading.

For readers wanting an explanation of the science and reality of human-induced climate change, this book is not what you are after. As Pope says early on, that topic was tackled in his earlier book with Claire Dawson, titled A Climate of Hope. This book shows instead how we in rich countries like Australia have a moral duty to play our part in loving our neighbours in a world that is warming.

The book was launched at the recent Justice Conference in Melbourne in late October. The tight deadline of getting the book ready for the conference may explain consistent poor editing and formatting throughout, as well as some factual errors (eg. Luke 19:30-37 is not the parable of the Good Samaritan). The editing and proofreading of the book comes across as having being done in a rush. This should not however distract the reader from the content itself, as the latter is what is most important.

Some of the issues that this book are raises are truly horrifying, and reveal the urgency in dealing with the climate crisis. A shocking example is that of Maasai families in Kenya. These families, living in abject poverty, are forced to send their children to the cities to find work as the changing climate is making it harder for them to provide enough food for themselves. When the children arrive in the cities in the hope of finding work, they are often lured into sex trafficking.

What we are seeing in the trends of a changing climate is that we are our environment. It has been said previously that if we do not address the effects of climate change, the great gains that have been made toward eradicating extreme poverty will be set back at least 50 years. It is that serious and that urgent.

Pope finishes with his book with this direct challenge to those of us who are Christians in rich countries like Australia: “Can we embrace the non-human as our neighbour as well, as an object of our love...what if loving God means also treasuring what he has made and takes delight in (Psalm 104:24-25, 31)...what if our fates are so intertwined that the resurrection of the dead means redemption for creation as well (Romans 8:19-23)?”

Can we indeed? To love God, which is the greatest commandment, is to love what God loves. A Climate of Justice is a call, an encouragement and a challenge to do just that.