John Ruskin and Climate Change

At a time when we’re acutely aware of climate change and its destructive implications I can’t resist quoting from an excellent new little book on the great artist, art historian and writer John Ruskin by Suzanne Fagence Cooper

‘In Ruskin’s eyes, the natural world was God’s creation. Again and again he writes of God breathing life into plants and animals, mountains and rivers. For him, our relationship with and understanding of these things comes from God: he encourages his readers to hope for ‘all the knowledge of the waters and the earth that God meant for you’. Put another way, it is the job and the joy of mankind to look after the earth, its waters and its creatures. But by refusing to honour and care for nature, by plundering and polluting, by wasting and littering, modern men and women indeed behave as if there is no life after their death, no need to worry about anything bigger than their own immediate desires. Ruskin did not need God to tell him that the consequences of squandering the earth’s resources would be disastrous. He could see the fragile webs that connected meadow flowers with pollinating insects and sources of clear water and clean air. If we trample and muddy them we will alter the ecosystems that he drew so tenderly.’


To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters by Suzanne Fagence Cooper, p 64-65

Quercus 2019, 230 pp, £12.99


also very strongly recommended ‘Ruskinland : How John Ruskin Shapes our World’ by Andrew Hill

Pallas Athene 2019, 305 pp, £19.99


4 thoughts on “John Ruskin and Climate Change

    1. Thanks Tull! I’ve always loved the controlled (targeted) agility of Melkus’s playing, a sort of ‘period’ Grumiaux, perhaps. His set of the Rosary sonatas is surely one of the very best. Best. Rob


  1. Andréa Lechner

    Beautifully put, I am sad that Ruskin’s sentiments were not shared by those responsible for the wellbeing of our planet at a higher level, and that we are suffering the consequences so acutely today.


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