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 Hell & High Water

Welcome to the website for Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition, by Alastair McIntosh, published by Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2008, ISBN 978 1 84158 622 9. New - Kindle edition
  1. Special for COP21 Paris 2015 - PDF from final chapter on a 12-Step Programme for deeper measures on climate change

  2. Review Highlights

  3. About the author & photo/cover image links

  4. Extract - Contents & the Introduction

  5. Live web links for endnote references, update, erratum

  6. Where to buy Hell and High Water online

  7. Author interview on climate change by WDM

  8. One year+ update article, from ECOS Dec 2009

  9. Mandarin Chinese translation of Chapter 1

  10. Archbishop of Canterbury's Guardian article on climate change drawing on Hell and High Water.



Publisher's Synopsis: Climate change may be the greatest challenge that the world has ever faced. In this groundbreaking new book, Alastair McIntosh summarises the science of what is happening to the planet – both globally and using Scotland as a local case study. He moves on, controversially, to suggest that politics alone is not enough to tackle the scale and depth of the problem. At root is our addictive consumer mentality. Wants have replaced needs and consumption drives our very identity. In a fascinating journey through early texts that speak to climate change – including the ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, Plato’s myth of Atlantis, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth - McIntosh reveals the psychohistory of modern consumerism. He shows how we have fallen prey to a numbing culture of violence and the motivational manipulation of marketing. To start to resolve what has become of the human condition we must get more real in facing up to despair and death. Only then will we discover the spiritual meaning of these our troubled times. Only then can magic, new meaning, and all that gives life, bring hope to a broken world. 


Review Highlights


"What a beautifully odd and human book it is... Hell and High Water communicates a simple and vital truth: that climate change is “cultural, psychological and spiritual"... It is wise, wry, sad, esoteric, and in the author’s words “unfinished and unfinishable”. It’s not for everyone, but for those with an open mind and a willingness to take the scenic route, it is a unique and profound journey." - Jeremy Williams, Make Wealth History, 25 August 2011.


"I found it very helpful indeed. As I have to speak in Copenhagen this December, I shall be quarrying it for inspiration." - Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, letter, 1 June 2009.


"You go into any bookshop and you’ll see shelves and shelves of titles on this subject, and it’s hard to select only a couple, but I could mention Mark Lynas’s Six Degrees [and] Alastair McIntosh’s Hell and High Water. What makes both these books particularly worthwhile is not only that they’re very scientifically rigorous but both of them … find a kind of rage and optimism." - Prof. Adam Roberts, Open Book, BBC Radio 4, 23 Nov 2008.


"An excellent book. Its psychological and spiritual insights make such an important contribution to the debate surging around climate change." - Jonathan Porritt, Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, 2009.


"Quite a number of books focus on the scientific data but few, like this one, try to analyse and respond to deeper questions, targeting the cultural, psychological and spiritual dimensions of climate change." - Guillermo Kerber, World Council of Churches, Ecumenical Review, 2010.


"What's really significant about this book, politically, is that McIntosh has made green living sound attractive ... He takes a step back from the problem and rather than simply looking at immediate causes, looks at the causes behind the causes.... What he does brilliantly here is offer an alternative, deeply humanist version of green politics ... of genuine international importance." - Roger Cox, The Scotsman, 16 August 2008.


"He explores the deep order conditions of hope for our planet in the midst of the crisis of global warming. There is no room for a shallow optimism in our present predicament. Hope is a virtue of a different order of magnitude.... A deep cultural pathology demands a deep cultural psychotherapy." - Professor Emeritus Edmund O'Sullivan, Resurgence, Jan 2009.

"The first four chapters ... are a concise and concerning summary of the current thinking on the science of climate change... Where does the hope come from? The answer to that is set out in eloquent and bewitching style over the remaining five chapters.... And here is McIntosh's distinctive contribution. He's willing to combine solid research with spirituality. Chemistry with community psychology ... an air of something intangible, new and faintly encouraging. Perhaps I could call it 'hope'." - Hodgson's Choice in The Environmentalist, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, Issue 66, Oct 2008.

"A profoundly important book." - Michael Russell MSP, Minister for the Environment at the launch 25 July 2008 and cited in the Scottish Parliament the next day as an "influential response to climate change."

"Hell and High Water offers a valuable insight into how we deal with climate change [using] a fantastically unlikely combination of insights" - John-Paul Flintoff, TimesOnline.com, 18 June 2008.

"In Hell and High Water Alastair McIntosh applies his sharp mind and rigorous ethics to the impending climate catastrophe. The results are thoughtful, incisive and emotionally powerful. Whatever our individual judgements about the inevitability of catastrophe, this analysis should give us all pause for thought. Planning for a post-catastrophe world cannot be postponed even while we work urgently to prevent the worst impacts of climate chaos." - Duncan McLaren, Director of Friends of the Earth (Scotland), What on Earth?, Autumn 2008.

"The second part of the book gives it real originality ... analysing the human condition, relating inner to outer and social to ecological dimensions [of how] hubris tends to drive us to over-reach.... This penetrating book will give readers the courage to ask uncomfortable questions and recognise that we ourselves are part of the problem and must become part of the solution if there is to be one." - Dr David Lorimer, Network Review - Journal of the Scientific and Medical Network, Winter 2008.

"Hell and High Water ... does an excellent job in explaining difficult concepts in a language that simplifies without being simplistic. This provides a chilling clarity to what most people at this nitty-gritty level of science, find a very abstract problem... McIntosh's excellent exposé might just clear a path out of the darkness." - Martin Tierney, Paperback of the Week, The Herald, 19 July 2008.

"This book has much that is exceptional to offer its readers." - Greta McGough, The Friend, 29 Aug 2008.

"McIntosh makes serious philosophical thinking seem essential." - Katherine Polwart (Folksinger), Scotland on Sunday, 6 Jul 2008.

"For those who can digest the truth about climate change if it is served on a platter of hope, here is a book which stands on a mountaintop league of its own. In a remarkable synthesis of science, humanitarianism and spirituality, Alastair McIntosh’s Hell and High Water may well be the most holistic presentation to date on the challenges rapidly converging on our doorstep." - Peter Vido, ScytheConnection.com.

"It's odd that a book of such bright hope should be based on such practical despondency. But then, this lies at the core of his message. He is saying that only when you have stared into that dark place can you find a hope that is real.... McIntosh offers a soul-based solution." - Vikky Allan, Sunday Herald, 22 June 2008.

"Disappointing book of the year was Hell and High Water by Alastair McIntosh. This ticked all the right boxes for me, detailing climate change ... but then he started talking about faeries." - "Suitably Despairing's" blogspot, Dec 2008.


Purchase Online from:

1. Birlinn Ltd (the publisher)

2. Wordpower radical bookshop (Edinburgh)

3. Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.ca  Amazon.fr  Amazon.de  Amazon.com

4. Kindle edition (2012).

2nd Edn: Hell and High Water has sold out of its first 3,500 print run after 10 months, and is into its second edition as of June 2009 (and 3rd printing in 2011). This has only very minor erratum changes plus a short comment on consumerism as the common factor in both climate change and the credit crunch - view these changes here.

Please see the itinerary on my home page for details of forthcoming speaking events.

About the Author: Alastair McIntosh is a writer and campaigner for justice and environmental sustainability. He holds fellowships at the Centre for Human Ecology, the E. F. Schumacher Society and a PhD by Published Works from the Academy of Irish Cultural Heritages at the University of Ulster. In 2005 the University of Strathclyde gave him an honorary post as Scotland’s first professor of human ecology. Best known for writing Soil and Soul and his work on land reform, he has guest lectured around the world at institutions including the Russian Academy of Sciences, the World Council of Churches, WWF International in their ‘One Planet Leaders’ programme and, for more than a decade, speaking about nonviolence on the Advanced Command and Staff Course at Britain’s foremost military staff college.


"I assume Alastair McIntosh must receive hundreds of emails appreciating his books. But maybe not so many from climate change scientists. I am of that tribe, sent him one, and feel compelled to provide this appreciation more publicly. I  read Hell and High Water in a day, and it IS - simply - the best on the topic of climate change. As a scientist, I appreciate the author's faithfulness to the science, his straight talk on the technological options, the clearer-eyed perspective on the politics surrounding energy and climate change, and Mr. McIntosh's analysis of our violent consumer culture. I also honor his utter honesty, his own story of loss and pain woven subtly throughout the book, the lack of pretense about how "clean" and green we all are (and can be) in this messy world. Maybe most of all, I appreciate his call for a return to soul. Maybe that won't save our skin - but it will save our humanity.... Read it! Then give it to your friend, your parents, your children, your boss and colleagues. Give it to everyone for Christmas and their birthdays. Give it to someone who needs to be reminded of their soul - come Hell or High Water!"  - Susanne Moser, Santa Cruz, on Amazon.com, 2009.

"McIntosh suspects that perhaps there is an inevitability in the changes that are happening ... and maybe the changes are all part of our evolutionary journey of life on Earth. As such, modern climate change will not only be marked as a phase in geological evolution but also as a turning point in human consciousness." Stephen Frank, Earth Ethics, Gaia Foundation, 2009.



Acknowledgements                                                            vii

Introduction                                                                        1

The challenge of climate change is a

challenge to ourselves

Part 1 - Climate Change

1                  Nullius in Verba                                                       13

               Public debate and scientific consensus

2                  Beyond Tipping Point                                              32

           Scenarios of what climate change means

3                  Devil’s Dilemmas                                                     61

           Technical options to mitigate climate change

4                  Spirit of the Blitz                                                     86

           Is radical change possible within democracy?

Part 2 - The Human Condition

5                  Pride and Ecocide                                                    107

           Hubris, violence and the destruction of nature

6                  Dissociation of Sensibility                                       140

           Emptiness and the loss of inner life

7                  Colonised by Death                                                  160

           The consumer psychology of climate change

8                  Journey into the Soul                                               180

           Drawing hope from the jaws of despair

9                 Towards Cultural Psychotherapy                              210

           Reclaiming that which gives life


Afterword                                                                        245

Notes                                                                               251

Index                                                                               271




 INTRODUCTION (Pages 1-10)

(Click here to jump ahead to chapter summary)



Several years ago my widowed and slightly disabled mother moved from the retirement croft house on the Isle of Lewis to the nearby town of Stornoway. Now well into her seventies, she had acquired a cottage by the harbour thinking that ‘city life’ would make it easier to cope with the wild winter weather.

Tuesday, 11 January 2005 was a tempestuous day even in Govan - the shipbuilding area of Glasgow where I presently live with Vérène my wife. But further out west on the Outer Hebrides, a storm of unprecedented proportions had come in from the Atlantic. Late that evening my mother telephoned. She was coping, but her voice sounded wraith-like and terrified.

Wind speeds are measured on the Beaufort Scale. Francis Beaufort was an Irish admiral who had first gone to sea in 1787. His original scale went up to Hurricane Force 12. Each gradation related to sailing conditions, thus a Force 12, with sustained wind velocities of between 73 and 83 miles per hour, were those ‘to which she could show no canvas’, and which, over dry land, might cause ‘considerable and widespread dam­age to structures’. On that January night in 2005, winds of 120 mph (200 kph) were recorded near Stornoway. There was also a very high tide and so, combined with the storm surge of water piled up by the tempest, Stornoway’s lower-lying streets became inundated by the sea.

As I metaphorically held my mother’s hand over the phone, she described how waves were bursting over the defensive wall across the road. Shovel-loads of stones hailed against her bulging windows. She feared what might happen if the glass gave way. Salty rivulets percolated in around the windowsills and trickled down through the carpets. The whole street was impassably awash. Anybody venturing out would be at peril not just from the deluge, but also from roofing slates flying around like guillotine-edged banshees.

‘I’m exhausted,’ she told me. ‘My strength is almost gone. I’ve been up and down the stairs for the past two hours, mop­ping up as fast as it comes in. The emergency services sandbagged my front door, but they can hardly cope and say there’s nothing else they can do.’

The crisis subsided as the tide receded, but that night’s storm cost the islands millions of pounds in damage. I visited straight afterwards, and three boats were wrecked outside my mother’s house, cast up on the rocks almost to the road. In our village of Leurbost, close friends from school days were dealing with roofs ripped from off their weaving and black-smithing sheds. On a causeway joining South Uist to Benbecula, a family of five in two cars - thought to have been escaping from rising floodwaters inside their low-lying home -were swept away to death. It was the worst natural disaster and the most terrible storm within the islands’ living memory.

Scotland’s top politicians of the time immediately promised to repair not just ‘the infrastructure damage, but also to repair the confidence and the morale of the local community.’1 Three years later little has been done. The causeways remain danger­ous, and the community feels passed by. I couldn’t help thinking that if this was the response to a small place at a time of high national prosperity, what would it be like if ‘extreme weather events’, as they’re called by the meteorologists, get much more common? The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans during August 2005 hardly inspires confidence. George Bush had recognised that full recovery may take 25 years and a $6 billion programme was set in place to patch up the flood defences.2 According to National Geographic News, this was completed to pre-Katrina standards within two years, ‘but the system is actually riddled with flaws, and a storm even weaker than Katrina could breach the levees.’3 One wonders what the chances are of Bush’s 25 years ever being reached without a repeat debacle. Already there is anecdotal evidence that the rich are thinking twice about rebuilding in such threat­ened areas. New Orleans was poor to start with, but as awareness of global warming spreads one can envision the emergence of neighbourhoods both there and elsewhere socially stratified by climate apartheid. The poor will only be able to afford property that is at risk. For the well-to-do, a house on the hill is coming to mean more than just status with a view.

Events like the Hebridean storm and Hurricane Katrina have forced billions of people around the world to start asking questions about climate change. The idea that the Earth is kept warm by a ‘greenhouse effect’ is nothing new. It was first put forward in 1824 by the French physicist, Joseph Fourier. The possibility that burning carbon-based fuels like coal and oil could ramp this up into global warming was first advanced by the Nobel Prize-winning Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius. He made some surprisingly accurate calculations as far back as 1896.4 Throughout the twentieth century the volume of both carbon emissions to the atmosphere and scientific data about them grew exponentially, but it has only been over the past couple of decades that concern harboured by specialists has broken through into public consciousness. Few things shift consciousness like the fear of death or material loss. And when disasters start to hit home, even those whose lives were previ­ously cocooned from the natural world begin to ask questions; questions like:


1.           Is the climate undergoing dangerous change?

2.     If so, is that change caused by human impact?

3.     And if so, can we mitigate the causes and, where necessary, adapt to consequences?


The problem with reactions to specific events like both of the 2005 storms we have been discussing is that there can be no direct proof that they were ‘caused’ by global warming. The world’s weather systems and the variables that make it up are immensely complex. There can only be greater or lesser degrees of probability that any given extreme event is driven by climatic change. After all, every generation will, by definition, suffer its ‘worst storm ever’ at some point in people’s lives. One or two bizarre anecdotes possibly puffed up by the world’s mass media don’t make for a scientific case that the foundations of the known world have come unstuck. To build a robust body of evidence requires many such anecdotes, accu­rately measured so as to start comprising a body of data that can distinguish long-term climate change from short-term cli­mate variability and, especially in Britain, from mere weather! As it happens, recent data does suggest that the incidence and severity of Atlantic storms is on the rise. In a paper, ‘Heightened Tropical Cyclone Activity in the North Atlantic: Natural Variability or Climate Trend?’, a team of American scientists found that ‘about twice as many Atlantic hurricanes form each year on average than a century ago’. They conclude that this is consistent with the theory that warmer sea surface temperatures associated with global climate change is pumping extra energy into weather systems and thereby upping the ante.5

    Other data also supports the ‘folk memory’ of many old people that I grew up amongst on the Isle of Lewis. I must ask my reader to excuse me if I often draw on Scottish examples in this book. It’s a question of needing to dig from where I stand, but I hope that the examples I choose will be seen to have far wider relevance in principle. The old Hebridean folks often said that the balance of nature was being upset. They main­tained that winters were warmer than they had been early in the twentieth century, and the summers wetter. You can no longer take short cuts safely across frozen lochs in today’s winters, and oats will rarely ripen properly. Sure enough, weather station records for the west of Scotland confirm this folk perception. The figures show that between 1914 and 2004, average temperatures did indeed rise by half a degree. Rain, snow, mist and whatever else counts as ‘precipitation’ rose over the same period by 9.5%. The statistics can be presented with even greater drama if one looks at the data set for 1961-2004. Here the west Scottish temperature increased by fully one degree, and precipitation by a whopping 23.3% - a disproportionately high share of which falls in winter.6

There is now a very wide scientific consensus that data like this, drawn from many parts of the world and reflecting a broad range of climate variables, suggests that significant change really is happening to the planet. As the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) uncompromisingly put it in their November 2007 report: ‘Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.’7

We will see later that the vast majority of experts not in the pay of oil companies believe that the primary cause of this warming is carbon emission caused by the burning of fossil fuels. But the implications for our Western way of life - for what it would take to reduce and stop it - are, shall we say, thought provoking. George Monbiot’s Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning is an analysis described by Sir John Houghton, former head of the Met Office, the British weather forecasting service, as ‘the best book I know. .. broad, balanced and practical’. I have known George for many years and have every confidence in the accuracy of his appraisal. He sums it up in these words:


By 2030, according to a paper published by scientists at the Met Office, the total capacity of the biosphere to absorb carbon will have reduced from the current 4 billion tonnes a year to 2.7 billion. To maintain equilibrium at that point, in other words, the world’s population can emit no more than 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon a year in 2030. As we currently produce around 7 billion, this implies a global reduction of 60%. In 2030, the world’s people are likely to number around 8.2 billion. By dividing the total carbon sink (2.7 billion tonnes) by the number of people, we find that to achieve stabilization the weight of carbon emissions per person should be no greater than 0.33 tonnes per year.

In the rich countries, this means an average cut by 2030 of around 90%. The United Kingdom, for example, currently releases 2.6 tonnes per capita, so would need to reduce its emissions by 87%. Germany requires a cut of 88%, France of 83%, the United States, Canada and Australia 94%. By contrast, the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - the only international agreement that has been struck so far - commits its signatories to cut their carbon emissions by a total of 5.3% by 2012.8


Other assessments fall into a similar ballpark. For example, Al Gore, whose documentary An Inconvenient Truth became an unexpected box office hit, considers that the rich world must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050. In a detailed study for Friends of the Earth and the Cooperative Bank, Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre prescribes a 90% reduction by 2050, but with the majority of this, 70%, needing to be achieved by 2030.9 To stabilise carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere close to current levels the IPCC’s 2007 report states that global emissions would need to fall almost immediately by 50-85%, but this would still result in a temperature rise above pre-industrial levels of 2.0-2.4ºC and a 0.4-1.4-metre sea-level rise.10 But the IPCC’s small print contains a worrying qualification. Their forecasts are based on older models that incorporated ‘the sea-level rise component from thermal expansion only’. In other words, the melting of glaciers is not included. As we will see, data has only recently become available suggesting that the icecaps are melting at rates not previously anticipated. There is always an ‘inevitable outdatedness’ with scientific reports that synthesise vast amounts of published data. We will therefore need to wait until the IPCC’s next report in several years’ time for a more comprehensive prognosis.

To cut carbon emissions and thereby mitigate the lead cause of global warming means changing our lifestyles, increasing efficiency of existing fossil fuel uses, or moving to non-carbon energy sources such as nuclear or renewables. In Heat, George Monbiot examines British energy use sector by sector. He shows that the necessary changes could be made to stack up, but his findings would have radical implications for how our society is structured. For example, with transportation there would need to be a virtual end to air travel and a heavy curtailment of car use. Even high-speed trains are not efficient enough. George considers that only a massive expansion of bus routes could deliver what is needed. I can almost feel my readers groan! But this is precisely what makes some of George’s words so deeply important. It begs the question as to whether the way we look at this whole issue needs to shift ground. He writes:


Most environmentalists - and I include myself in this - are hypocrites ... I would like to believe that the changes I suggest could be achieved by appealing to people to restrain themselves. But though some environmentalists, undismayed by the failure of the past forty years of campaigning, refuse to see it, self-enforced abstinence alone is a waste of time . . .

I have sought to demonstrate that the necessary reduction in carbon emissions is - if difficult - technically and economically possible. I have not demonstrated that it is politically possible. There is a reason for this. It is not up to me to do so. It is up to you . . . The campaign against climate change is an odd one. Unlike almost all the public protests which have preceded it, it is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity. It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less. Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but also against ourselves.11


So here is the real challenge of climate change. It whisks us up in a whirlwind and throws us down against. . . ourselves. That is why the central thesis of this book is that climate change cannot be tackled by technical, economic and political measures alone. Those things are all important, but in addition and perhaps most important of all, we have to look at ourselves. We have to address not only the outer world of atmospheric science, economic imperatives, and realms of political possibility, but also the inner world of psychology and, I will suggest, spirituality. The bottom line and top priority is that we must get to grips with the roots of life and what gives it meaning.

In attempting so to do I want to stand, if I may, on the shoulders of people like George Monbiot. I will largely take the findings of Heat and similarly carefully researched texts as a given. There is no point in writing yet another book about climate change when I am not a climate scientist. As such, the shorter part of this book, Part 1, will merely give a summary of the science and the politics. In Chapter 1, I explore the difficulty of knowing what to think about a complex scientific debate with conflicting media voices. Chapter 2 looks at global climate change scenarios and includes a short case study of Scotland. Chapter 3 summarises the technical options to mitigate climate change. And most dismally of all, Chapter 4 looks at why our hedonistic democracy is so impotent in making changes that, actually, need to start within each one of us.

Thus far my material is not distinctive and readers who are already well-versed in climate change debates may wish to skip or just skim over Part 1. In Part 2, my contribution attempts something different from the usual take on global warming. My thesis is that the most galling aspect of the problem is driven not by fundamental human needs, but by manipulated wants that find expression in consumerism. To mitigate climate change and even to adapt to its consequences without losing our humanity, there needs to be a radical reactivation of our inner lives. That is not something that we can achieve entirely on our own. It also requires change across society - perhaps even what I describe as ‘cultural psychotherapy’.

Part 2 of the book therefore explores the history of and the prognosis for the human condition as it relates to environmental impact. In Chapter 5, I show that the ancient world of the Sumerians, Hebrews, Greeks and Romans displays an astonishing perspective on how the human condition reflects itself in the condition of the Earth. The ancients equated hubris or excessive pride with violence and so, with the destruction of nature. Their moral analysis fits even better to our present day condition than it did to their own.

Chapter 6 suggests that as modernity took root in the West, culturally embedded violence damaged our capacity to develop and sustain a rich inner life. Rather than evolving a healthy balance between our inner and outer lives, Western societies have been turned inside out. It shows especially in the faces of some politicians and celebrities. Our outer lives are hyperactive and there’s a corresponding emptiness, even a deathly nihilism, at the core.

Chapter 7 argues that this deficiency of inner anchoring has rendered us vulnerable to colonisation by marketing that has pushed consumerism by generating wants. As we lost touch with inner sensibility our psyches - our totality in body, mind and spirit - became open to hijacking by carefully honed tools of motivational manipulation. Inner climate affects outer climate because inner hubris drives outer hubris in a spiral of mindless economic frenzy. As Leonard Cohen puts it:


Things are going to slide, slide in all directions

Won’t be nothing

Nothing you can measure anymore

The blizzard, the blizzard of the world

has crossed the threshold

and it has overturned

the order of the soul12


Chapter 8 suggests that if we want to tackle the deep drivers of consumerism and so tackle the roots of climate change, we need to call back the soul. This means setting aside delusions of mere optimism about the future and blind faith in technical fixes, yet paradoxically, deepening our capacity for hope. It means finding the courage to face death and open the heart to love. It means being prepared to be surprised by potential depths of being of which we might previously have been unaware.

Lastly, in Chapter 9 I tentatively suggest twelve steps by which we might work to re-ground the human condition in what it can mean to be most deeply, and beautifully, human. This means working towards a psychotherapy of the soul - a deep healing of what has gone wrong or never properly developed - that is not just individual, but cultural.

My readers should know that I am painfully aware, as will be explored further in the Afterword, that this is an uncom­fortable and also an unfinishable book. It may disappoint, for I have no easy or adequate remedies for global warming. While I try to be careful not to play up people’s fears (and some would say I play them down too much), I cannot say that I am optimistic about saving some of the things that are most familiar and loveable in this world. And yet, my position borders on the perverse. I perversely hold out hope for humanity, not in spite of global warming, but precisely because it confronts us with a wake-up call to consciousness. Answering that call of the wild to the wild within us all invites outer action matched by inner transformation. This book takes an exploratory walk on that wild side.



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5 June 2008