Love is Green: Compassion as responsibility in the ecological emergency

by Lucy Weir

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In 'Love is Green', Weir develops a sophisticated and sympathetic response to our ecological problems. By attuning ourselves to our enmeshed nature and allowing ourselves to see with compassion, we realize alternatives ways of responding to our surroundings. Weir argues that this is one of the only ways to carry us beyond humanity’s era of ecological destruction. This book brings together philosophies of East and West, and as such is of greater contemporary relevance than most philosophical books on this topic. The book is written in clear, non-jargon language, and should be accessible to readers even if they haven’t previously studied much philosophy. Weir’s emphasis on expressing compassion or love as a response to the ecological crisis is inspiring.

Dr. Cara Nine
University College Cork

This book is unique. It combines pieces of well-developed philosophical thought (analytic ethics, ecological theory, continental philosophy, and Buddhist thought, especially Dōgen) into a novel, coherent, and quite compelling vision.

This highly original work reconsiders the problem of ethical agency within an ecological context. In so doing, it provocatively argues that we cannot act on the ecological systems that comprise us as if we were outside of them. What emerges is a profound account of agency as realization that marries contemporary ethics to Zen practice in a manner that understands the roots of the ecological crisis deeply enough to be able to address them.

Jason M. Wirth,
Professor of Philosophy, Seattle University

Very interesting and worth looking at. [...] I hope that people can have a dip in ... and get involved in the movement.

Des Derwin, SIPTU (Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union) ‘Just Transition’

Since reading it and realising what the work is here, I was really lucky.... I think it's a very important work and relates to how we communicate, how we understand this existential leap we have to make to address the ecological crisis.

When it's sold in colleges across the world, which I think it will be...

It's readable in a way that anyone would understand, and it's important we all try to get an understanding of the questions and the theory that Lucy is expounding on. [...] It doesn't shy away from the science; it brings the science in."

Eamon Ryan, Leader of The Green Party, Ireland (Comhaontas Glas)

[It] wants to take evolutionary biology to what is seen as its logical conclusion.

[The book] is also reminiscent of Dewey's work in that it offers hope, even as it acknowledges the unpredictability of the future, and names the deeply troubling fundamental threat of our time. [...] I thoroughly enjoyed engaging with this really very skillful way of making the case.

Dr Eileen Brennan, DCU Institute of Education

This book links three themes, non-dualistic agency, ‘the good’ of systems, and compassionate attunement, and relates them to the ecological emergency.

The author begins by examining how we currently understand our ability to choose what we do, our agency and conclude that this is dualistic: we think of an action to do, and then we physically act. Yet an understanding that we are enmeshed in context means our capacity to act freely dissolves in the mesh.

We evolved capacities for consciousness and awareness, capacities that allow us to realise that we are here, now but that do not inevitably imply choice. Our capacity for ‘realisation’ gives us the ability to elicit an emotional response. When we understand our enmeshment, we can attune to a deep compassion for ourselves and indeed for all systems unfolding through time. Compassionate attunement allows a different set of options for action to become available to us. This then shifts how we respond to ourselves, our human relationships and to the ecological emergency we are currently embroiled in.

This work is inspired by the great Kamakura Zen Master Eihei Dōgen. The book’s contribution is to extend and link the notion of practice-realisation with the literature on evolutionary biology and entropy maximisation which allows us to speak of ‘the good’ of systems. Systems unfold as ‘good’ for us when biodiversity maximisation occurs.

By considering the ecological emergency in light of compassionate attunement, we open ourselves to a new array of possibilities for action. Some of these the author outlines in the conclusion, relating them to existing literature on compassionate achievement and compassionate communication, to show how our this practice shifts our relationship to ourselves, to one another, and to the ecological emergency, thus changing the course of human history.



Chapter One

Chapter Two
From Respect for Nature to the Question of Agency

Chapter Three
From agency as respect to agency as realisation

Chapter Four
The practice of responding to the ecological emergency

Chapter Five
Slaying the dragon and areas for further research


Further Reading


Lucy Weir was born in the Highlands of Scotland. She went to study in Oxford University under Professor Barbara Harrell-Bond, a woman who had a profound influence on her understanding of social and environmental justice, and on the development of autonomy. When in Oxford, she met, and subsequently married, an Irishman and spent nearly twenty years in the west of Ireland, struggling to survive, rearing two children, teaching yoga, and writing. She researched and wrote a Ph.D. in a hut at the end of the garden and on completion, left to live near Dublin, in order to find work. Her vision is to open an eco-therapeutic community, which would combine work with marginalised people with the ideas of practice-realisation, compassionate attunement, and compassionate communication, as well as helping to show in practical terms how the ideas in this book can be enacted in a practical context.

Dogen, Zen, Evolutionary Biology, Ecology, Climate Change, Mindfulness, Practice-realisation, Compassion, Compassionate Attunement

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Love is Green: Compassion as responsibility in the ecological emergency





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

April 2020