The Violence of Climate Change

cover art
238 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781626164345 (1626164347)

238 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781626164352 (1626164355)

June 2017
LC: 2016033266


Table of Contents

The Violence of Climate Change
Lessons of Resistance from Nonviolent Activists
Kevin J. O'Brien
Climate change is viewed as a primarily scientific, economic, or political issue. While acknowledging the legitimacy of these perspectives, Kevin J. O'Brien argues that we should respond to climate change first and foremost as a case of systematic and structural violence. Global warming is largely caused by the carbon emissions of the affluent, emissions that harm the poor first and worst. Climate change is violence because it divides human beings from one another and from the earth.

O'Brien offers a constructive and creative response to this violence through practical examples of activism and nonviolent peacemaking, providing brief biographies of five Christians in the United States—John Woolman, Jane Addams, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cesar Chavez. These activists' idealism, social commitment, and political savvy offer lessons of resistance applicable to the struggle against climate change and for social justice.
Kevin J. O'Brien is dean of humanities and associate professor of Christian ethics at Pacific Lutheran University. He is the author of The Ethics of Biodiversity, coeditor of Grounding Religion, and coauthor of An Introduction to Christian Environmentalism. He holds a PhD from Emory University.
"An engaging work . . . In its essence, this book is a call to resist. To resist the structural violence that O'Brien identifies climate change to be."—Environmental Values

"O'Brien is at his strongest when he attends to the idiosyncrasies of his witnesses and their distinctive contributions to thinking about climate change. He is thoughtful and constrained, presenting clear connections and lessons for the reader."—Christian Century

"A creative, timely, and helpful contribution to the canon of Christian environmentalist literature. . . . The book is an excellent resource for scholars and particularly for climate activists facing the discouragement common in their work."—Reading Religion

"A powerful addition to the developing study of evironmental and social justice."—Choice

"O'Brien points to the practical examples of activism and nonviolent peacemaking"—Yale Climate Connection

"Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, Jane Addams, and John Woolman are five of the most important people our planet has produced, and it's remarkably good to see their witness brought to bear on the greatest problem our planet has ever faced."—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

"Essential reading for the climate justice movement, this book is for anyone wondering how the ideas and tactics of iconic figures of previous movements can shape action in the weird world of climate change."—Willis Jenkins, University of Virginia

"The Violence of Climate Change provides a thoughtful response to a profound set of moral challenges and breathes new hope into those daunted by our new climate reality. There is something for everyone here: insightful analysis, engaging storytelling, and examples of creative resistance. However you are working to address climate change, this book is food for the journey."—LeeAnne Beres, Executive Director, Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light, Earth Ministry

Table of Contents
Introduction: Toward a Witness of Resistance

Part 1: Climate Change and Nonviolence
1. The Wicked Problem of Climate Change
2. Nonviolent Resistance

Part II: Five Witnesses of Nonviolent Resistance
3. John Woolman's Moral Purity and Its Limits
4. Jane Addams and the Scales of Democracy
5. Dorothy Day and the Faith to Love
6. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Hope for an Uncertain World
7. Cesar Chavez and the Liberating Power of Sacrifice

Conclusion: What Can We Do?
About the Author