Somewhere along the line, before my career got sidetracked by mission, linguistics and theology, I was a plant scientist. I spent three years studying one enzyme system in the broad bean and if things had worked out otherwise, I could well have spent my life researching or teaching biology.
With this in mind, I approached A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues by husband and wife team Martin (plant scientist) and Margot (vicar) Hodson, with a great deal of interest.
To get the normal stuff out of the way, it is a paperback format book, with no pictures and a few diagrams. There are around 220 pages including notes and indices. Oh, and it is well worth a read.
Essentially, the book does what it says on the cover, it provides a Christian view on a number of environmental issues. There are chapters on subjects including;
- Climate change
- Human population and consumption
- Environment and development
This is only a short book, so there is not space to develop any of these issues in great detail. If you’ve been following the literature on, say, climate change you won’t find a great deal to surprise you here. However, the breadth of the material covered is excellent, I suspect that very few people will have given time to thinking about all of these issues, so anyone coming to this book is likely to find something new.
Each chapter includes a Biblical reflection which could be used as a group study tool and there are some practical suggestions as to things we can all do to help make better use of this wonderful planet.
I realise that this book covers divisive issues, however, I found it to be well balanced and reasonable; avoiding the pitfalls of either extreme in the debate. The brief section on genetically modified crops was by far the best thing I’ve read on this question for years (this from someone who spent a summer working on the cyto-genetics of hexaploid wheat).
This isn’t a perfect book. To my mind, the repeated references to the authors’ sabbatical in Spain did not add a great deal to the discussion and, if I were picky, I might argue with some of the Bible study material. However, it is a good book and I would encourage anyone who has an interest in the creation or the environment to get hold of it and to read it. I would especially encourage anyone who doesn’t have an interest in creation or the environment to read it because we’ve only got one planet to live on and we were commissioned to take care of it – and we don’t seem to be doing a great job.
In the interests of transparency, I need to mention that I was kindly given a copy of this book by the authors. I am grateful for their generosity, but this has not impacted the way in which I have written this review.