Take & read: New books in ethics

In the Anthropocene era, do ethics matter?

There is no more pressing ethical issue in the world today than our treatment of the environment. Concerns about the environment intersect with every other ethical concern, from injustice and inequality of every kind to the politics of war and the politics that lead to war. And no other set of issues so clearly displays sin’s inner workings, outer consequences, and utter unsustainability.

In Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming (Duke University Press), political theorist William E. Connolly diagnoses the problem.

A tiger has us by the tail; we are swinging around without really coming to terms with the character of the Anthro­pocene, . . . the two hundred to four hundred years during which extractive capitalism has significantly modified atmospheric CO2 levels. . . . There is no guarantee that we will succeed in our actions if and when we finally face up to it.