Monday, September 27, 2021

Book Spotlight: Great Adaptations

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for reviewing purposes and received no payment. All opinions are my own.

The issue of climate change has increasingly been making its way into the headlines and rightfully so. We are in a crisis and there is no time to waste. We are seeing the very real effects of climate change almost daily, as we see progressively worse storms and extreme weather all across the globe. There are brutal heatwaves, extreme winters, record-breaking hurricanes, frequent forest fires, and devastating flooding. The scientists are sounding the alarm about elevated sea levels, melting ice caps, and rising CO2 emissions. There is definitely something going on and our planet and only home is showing the signs. 

We are facing a massive threat, but the question is, what should we do about it? There is now talk of the concept of adaptation in the face of climate change. Is this the answer? Or is talk of adaptation a license for damaging complacency rather than positive achievement?

In the new book, Great Adaptations – In the Shadow of a Climate Crisis, Dr Morgan Phillips, Co-Director of The Glacier Trust, argues that, while the concept of  ‘adaptation’ may have fierce critics, it is important to distinguish between: bad adaptations (mal-adaptations) which can exacerbate social injustice, cause deep ecological harm, and even hasten the onset of dangerous climate change – and Great Adaptations which transform peoples’ lives and contribute to the achievement of broader societal goals.

In this fascinating book, Phillips recounts stories of adaptation from the air-conditioned pavements of Doha and the feral camels of Australia, to the ‘cool rooms’ of Paris and the ‘fog catchers’ of Morocco. These are the lesser-told stories of adaption to climate change – the great adaptation case histories will be inspirations for the positive adaptations of the future; while the stories of mal-adaptations will, hopefully, act as warnings.

Great Adaptations is a call to action. It advocates adaptations that are ecologically restorative and socially just. It examines how the arguments about adaptation are framed, unpicks the contested notion of Deep Adaptation, explores the potential of Transformative Adaptation, and questions the legitimacy of the ‘reassuring stories’ that still dominate mainstream climate discourse.

I found this to be an interesting read and I learned a lot that I did not know. During the time that I read this book, I was witnessing the extremes of climate change on the news very regularly. The hurricanes that thrash the United States and the Caribbean have become increasingly powerful and frequent and cause massive flooding and leave a deadly path of destruction. Roaring forest fires around the world are all too frequent and burn a deadly path. Here in the UK and in different areas of Europe, the flooding has been catastrophic and the same can be said for different locations across the planet. Climate change is real, and we are seeing the devastating consequences globally. 

Great Adaptations is a conversational yet provocative book, which is engaging and visually arresting. This book will appeal to all who are concerned about climate change. Dr Morgan Phillips offers his contribution to the mounting debate about climate adaptation and presents his case based on experience and study of real-life adaptation projects (good and bad) from around the world.

I found Great Adaptations to be very accessible as a reader. I learned about adaptation as I read, and I came to this book with no knowledge of the subject of climate adaptation. The information is presented in a way which is informational, but it does not talk over your head, and I liked that. This is a very good read!

ISBN: 9781 9120 9214 7 Paperback 224 pages RRP: £9.99 Sept 2021
Publisher: Arkbound Foundation

Great Adaptations is available through the publisher and bookshops, as well as through internet booksellers (Also available as an ebook).

About the author: Dr Morgan Phillips FRSA, is the Co-Director of The Glacier Trust (, a UK charity that enables climate change adaptation in Nepal. He is also Head of Insight at environmental charity Global Action Plan, Trustee at National Association for Environmental Education, and Associate Director at Green Schools Project. Morgan is the designer of multiple environmental education initiatives and has lectured on the politics of climate change at Brunel University and has led the Eco-Schools programme for England for three years. An accomplished public speaker, Morgan has made presentations at many national and international conferences (including COP21 in Paris), has appeared on national TV & radio.


Sarah Troxell said...

This sounds like a fascinating read!

Dori said...

Yes! It was a really eye-opening book. Very intriguing.