Charles Eisenstein, Climate. A New Story

Charles Eisenstein, Climate. A New Story Berkeley, California. North Atlantic Books, 2018. ISBN: 978-1-62317-248-0

Climate. A New Story is all about seeing the broader picture. Climate change is not just about carbon emissions, or extinctions, or flooding, or drought: it’s about ecological health and the part we as human-beings can and must play to ensure our survival and that of the Earth. To avoid a dystopian future, Eisenstein argues, we need a new form of debate based on the view that the Earth is a living organism; we must see the local as part of the global picture; we must show respect to all living things, and we must recognise that any damage to the Earth is damaging to human beings too. A healthy planet will benefit the physical and spiritual health of humanity. What we believe, along with our relationships, is fundamentally and intimately connected to the atmospheric climate. Our primary task and privilege, Eisenstein emphasises, is to contribute to the beauty, preservation and evolution of the Earth.

Climate derangement is our most serious problem. Caused by degradation of ecosystems globally, climate derangement has resulted in, among other things, the draining of wetlands, soil erosion, cutting down of forests, the poisoning of air, soil and water with chemicals, overfishing, and the damming of rivers. If we are to save our world, Eisenstein argues, we cannot rely just on minimising our impact: we must change the nature of our impact. Humanity must return ‘to being an extension of, and not an exception to, ecology’ (95). If we take from the Earth, we must give back in a way that enriches the Earth. ‘Life creates the conditions for life, and the modern era has been an era of unprecedented death’ (113). We must love all beings for who they are and not for what they can do for us. If we harm a living being, we harm ourselves. Our story of the climate crisis must, Eisenstein concludes, be a different story: a story of care, beauty and love. Borrowing a term from Buddhism, Eisenstein calls this ‘interbeing’: ‘the world is part of me, just as I am part of it’ (9).

Filled with common sense and beauty, Climate. A New Story is both visionary and scary, but it is also filled with love for that which is being damaged, degraded, and abused. There is hope: we can save the precious living organism we call Earth. What happens to the Earth happens to us too.


If you would like to know what has changed since 2018, when Climate. A New Story was published, we must wait for Eisenstein’s forthcoming The Coronation: Essays from the Covid Moment (to be published by Chelsea Green Publishing Co. on 28 July 2022). ISBN-10:1645021785; ISBN-13:978-1645021780

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