This Fragile Planet
This Fragile Planet: His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Environment
Sumeru Books 2021 / Copyright © Gaden Phodrang Foundation of the Dalai Lama + Michael Buckley
ISBN: 978-1-896559-73-5 / 120 pages pbk., 11x8.5 landscape format, full colour throughout. Silver medal winner in the 2022 Independent Publisher Book Awards
About the book
An ethical approach to dealing with the urgent issues of climate change and taking care of our delicate ecosystems.
This Fragile Planet features 80 inspiring quotations from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on environment, matched with 120 eye-catching photos and visuals from a dozen professional photographers — all carefully curated and edited by Tibet expert Michael Buckley.
The book lays out the vision of His Holiness concerning secular ethics and environmental protection, great respect for all living beings, the importance of interdependence, and the concept of universal responsibility for protecting Mother Earth. Material in the book is as current as Earth Day 2021.
The Dalai Lama’s 1989 Nobel Peace Prize was the first ever awarded on the basis of environmental protection. Over the decades since, His Holiness has worked tirelessly as an environmental activist, making this one of his key commitments in life. He is a staunch advocate of the value of education of the heart — the need for compassion and ethics, inspiring the coming generations — and has worked closely with educators to realise this vision.
HH Dalai Lama on Tibet Third Pole from ThunderHorse Media on Vimeo.
About the contributors
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama needs little introduction. He is a global spiritual icon, renowned for his tireless efforts promoting world peace, religious tolerance and secular ethics. Not so well known is his strong environmental activism. One of his key lifelong commitments is to preserve Tibet’s unique environment and culture. His Holiness has been a keynote speaker at many environmental conferences and discussions. These events have ranged from the groundbreaking Human Survival Conference, in Oxford, UK, 1988, which brought together leaders from many fields to discuss solutions to worldwide environmental problems — to the April 2021 virtual gathering of Nobel Laureates, scientists, policy-makers and youth leaders called Our Planet, Our Future. His Holiness brings forward an ethical approach for climate-change solutions. For an official biography of His Holiness, visit: dalailama.com/the-dalai-lama/
Michael Buckley (editor) is a Canadian photojournalist who has been involved in researching and writing about Tibet for over 35 years. He is author of Meltdown in Tibet, an exposé on China’s reckless destruction of ecosystems from the highlands of Tibet to the deltas of Asia. He created a digital photo companion for this, titled Tibet, Disrupted, and is filmmaker for three short documentaries about environmental issues in Tibet. He is author of a children’s book about Tibetan animals, titled The Snow Leopard’s New Friend. Buckley has written a dozen books about the Himalayan and Southeast Asian regions, including Tibet: the Bradt Travel Guide. As a keen diver, he has a special interest in preserving the world’s oceans, and is author of the digital photobook Planet Ocean Blues. More about Michael and his work can be found here:
One Earth Sangha
Tibet Talks: “This Fragile Planet” with Michael Buckley,
book launch, November 4, 2021. Hosted by ICT Washington
An extended TV interview (18 min.) with the editor about the importance of environmental protection of the Tibetan Plateau
What people are saying
“This Fragile Planet, edited by photographer and environmentalist Michael Buckley, is an out-of-the-ordinary book. Michael’s selection of pictures, especially of Tibet's landscape, is exquisite. Above all, his thoughtful choice of the quotes not only illustrates His Holiness the Dalai Lama's concern for the environment but his other global concerns, such as religious harmony, non-violence and ethics. And for me as a Tibetan, the beautiful pictures of my country are a sad reminder of the occupation of Tibet and the continuing destruction of its fragile environment by Communist China.” —Tenzin Geyche Tethong, author of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama: An Illustrated Biography
"These images and these words move the mind and heart — the Dalai Lama's heritage is so deeply connected to the world's crucial Third Pole, and his thinking is so deeply connected to the changes we need to make as individuals and societies. A landmark book!" — Bill McKibben, author The End of Nature
“Buddhism has a special and important perspective on the ecological crisis. And who better to explain it than the Dalai Lama? Moreover, there’s an extra treat: this book is truly beautiful, a joy to explore.” — David Loy, author of Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis
"The Dalai Lama is internationally renowned as a champion of world peace and non-violent conflict resolution. His strong presence in the world of environmental activism is perhaps less well known. His practical voice on this front is brought into sharp focus in this collaborative effort with Canadian writer Michael Buckley. The book is a welcome addition to any library." — Glenn H Mullin, author of The Dalai Lamas of Tibet: A Sacred Legacy of Reincarnation, and The Dalai Lamas on Tantra, and Living in the Face of Death: The Tibetan Tradition.
"This Fragile Planet, compiled and meticulously researched by Michael Buckley, is a treasure trove of environmental wisdom, warnings, and reflections by His Holiness the Dalai Lama coupled with stunning photographic imagery. This exemplary book is a guide for the spiritual and cultural transformative awareness of our delicate ecosystems." — Tor Torkildson, Editor of Sacred World Publications
"This Fragile Planet is a continuation of a 2,500 year old movement. The Buddha structured the monk’s and nun’s lifestyle with specific rules for relating to the environment in a harmless way. It is said by the Buddha that if we as humans maintain a virtuous attitude with accompanying behaviour, the natural world flourishes and produces abundance. If we do not behave well, the opposite happens…things spiral downward. We have a choice, but it should not be motivated by fear or anxiety; this is the unique voice which the Dalai Lama provides. The Buddhist message is a manual for greening the world and returning to the healthy emotions that humans can bring to this project. Thank you for shepherding it into the world." — Ajahn Sona, Birken Forest Monastery
"We are happy to learn that Sumeru is publishing the book 'This Fragile Planet: HH the Dalai Lama on Environment' in September this year. We are passionate and connected to both topics — Tibet and the fragile environment of ours. Friends of Tibet Foundation is happy to support the initiative of yours in whatever way possible." — Friends of Tibet Foundation, India
"It is no longer enough for Buddhists to offer repetitive, passive and anthropocentric pronouncements about interbeing and compassion. Rather, the Dalai Lama says, we need action. It is time for Buddhists to leave their meditation halls and homes and to actively engage with protecting wild places — from the Amazon to the Himalayas." — Prof. Paul Keddy, author of Wetland Ecology and Plant Ecology with Cambridge University Press.
"This Fragile Planet is a must-read and put-in-action in order to save our only home, the Earth. It is long overdue as His Holiness posed it and warned us a long time ago of this danger. For his pioneering thoughts he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. If anyone, any humanitarian institutions, or any political institutions truly regard Environment as an important issue for all of us, then we should consider or treat this book as a significantly important endorsement. If we care to leave a cleaner and sustainable world for our generations to come, we must put our sincere efforts today, NOT tomorrow." — Jurme Wangda, Ottawa Friends of Tibet
"The Dalai Lama’s solid scientific assessment of environmental issues on the Tibetan Plateau, his inspiration for young activists, and the spectacular photos in this book make This Fragile Planet a top pick for anyone concerned for our shared future.” — Dr. Michael Glantz, Senior Scientist, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. Boulder, Colorado
“Through his majestic selection of photos, Michael Buckley shows us what we stand to lose in Tibet if climate change—and the Chinese government’s reckless and short-sighted policies—continue unchallenged. But in sharing some of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s most poignant quotes, Michael also gives us the inspiration we need to tackle the environmental crisis and illuminates how we humans can have a healthier relationship with this fragile planet. In thi s do-or-die moment for the climate, this is a book the entire world needs to see." — Tencho Gyatso, interime vice-president, International Campaign for Tibet
“This Fragile Planet, with its great photos and citations, speaks to all of us. I am based in Alaska where we also see melting glaciers and thawing permafrost, and the deep wisdom expressed in this writing applies to our sacred beings in the Western World as it does anywhere else on this planet. Just as the title tells us, one can hardly find a more precise and crisp statement of what we see today — and what we should do if we want a good future for next generations.” — Falk Huettmann, Professor for Wildlife Ecology, University of Alaska Fairbanks
"This Fragile Planet brings together in one volume not only a photographic portrait of the changing Tibetan Plateau — which has already witnessed some of the most pronounced effects of global climate change — but the philosophy, thoughts and conclusions of one of the foremost and consistent contributors to a holistic and ethical approach to climate change — His Holiness the Dalai Lama.” — Dr Martin Mills, Director of the Scottish Centre for Himalayan Research
"This Fragile Planet brings together photos by more than a dozen international photographers and texts by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama that serve as a link between the photos. The most breathtaking photos are those that show the grandiose nature of Tibet, which, like so many other regions in this world, is threatened in its existence: by mining, the storage of nuclear waste, the construction of water dams, rapidly and uncontrollably growing cities and air pollution. The Dalai Lama rightly calls Tibet the 'Third Pole', since the survival of some two billion people depends on an intact environment on the 'roof of the world', just as the survival of the Arctic and Antarctic is important for the well-being of the entire globe. To show this is the eminent task of this book." — Professor Martin Brauen, Chief Curator Emeritus, Rubin Museum of Art (Tibetan and Himalayan Art), New York
This Fragile Planet serves to remind that the development of secular ethics, the basis of right response to climate crisis, is a process of cultivation. It requires, diligence, time, care and, in the most bold and generative way possible, faith. — Ryan Tuozzolo, reviewing the book for One Earth Sangha, https://oneearthsangha.org/articles/saving-tibet-saving-a-world/
"Tibet's soul has been gutted by the relentless drive of economic growth. However, Michael Buckley’s timely book This Fragile Planet breathes new life into environmental activism not only for Tibet, but also for the planet at large. The photographs are stunning and the Dalai Lama’s interdependent message highly relevant. There is hope. I highly recommend This Fragile Planet to anyone interested in improving the planet by improving their own lives." — Gil Gillenwater, co-author, Finding Tibet’s Hidden Falls: Revealing the World’s Final Geographic Mystery