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George Joshua Richard Monbiot (born 27 January 1963) is a British writer, known for his environmental and political activism. He writes a weekly column for The Guardian, and is the author of a number of books, including Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (2000) and Bring on the Apocalypse: Six Arguments for Global Justice (2008). He is the founder of The Land is Ours campaign, which campaigns peacefully for the right of access to the countryside and its resources in the UK.

The Independent writes that Monbiot is the acceptable face of green activism, in that he "eats meat, doesn't take to the trees, and won't swear at policemen."

Early life

Monbiot grew up in Henley-on-Thamesmarker in South Oxfordshire, in a large country house that backed onto Peppard Commonmarker. His family are descended from French aristocrats, the Ducs de Coutard, who fled their estates outside Tours in the Loire Valley in 1789, changing the family name from Beaumont, during the French Revolution. His father, Raymond Geoffrey Monbiot, is a businessman who headed the Conservative Party's trade and industry forum, while his mother, Rosalie—the elder daughter of Roger Gresham Cooke—is a Conservative councillor who led South Oxford district councilmarker for a decade. Monbiot was educated at Stowe Schoolmarker in Buckinghamshire, a private school, and won an Open Scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxfordmarker, where he gained an upper second class degree in zoology.


After graduating, he joined the BBC Natural History Unit as a radio producer, making natural history and environmental programmes. He transferred to the BBC's World Service, where he worked briefly as a current affairs producer and presenter, before leaving to research and write his first book.

Working as an investigative journalist, he travelled in Indonesiamarker, Brazilmarker, and East Africa. His activities led to his being made persona non grata in several countries and being sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in Indonesia.In these places, he was also shot at, beaten up by military police, shipwrecked and stung into a poisoned coma by hornets. He came back to work in Britain after being pronounced clinically dead in Lodwarmarker General Hospital in north-western Kenyamarker, having contracted cerebral malaria.George Monbiot, 1994. No Man's Land: an investigative journey through Kenya and Tanzania.

In Britain, he joined the roads protest movement and was often called to give press interviews. He was denounced as "nothing but a bandwagoner" and a "media tart" by groups such as Green Anarchist and Class War. He was attacked by security guards, who allegedly drove a metal spike through his foot, smashing the middle metatarsal bone. His injuries left him in hospital. Sir Crispin Tickell, a former British diplomat at the United Nations, who was then Warden at Green College, Oxfordmarker, made the young protester a fellow, so that he had an office to organise his campaign from. He was an active member of the Pure Genius!! campaign and co-founded The Land is Ours, which has occupied land all over the country. Its first notable success was in 1997, when it occupied thirteen acres (five hectares) of prime real estate on the river in London upon which owners Diageo intended to build a superstore. The protesters beat Diageo in court, built an "eco-village" and held on to the land for six months.

Among his best-known articles are his critique of David Bellamy's climate science, his description of an encounter with a police torturer in Brazil, his attack on libertarian interpretations of genetics his discussion of the ethics of outsourcing, and his attack on the politics of Bob Geldof and Bono.

He has held visiting fellowships or professorships at the universities of Oxfordmarker (environmental policy), Bristolmarker (philosophy), Keelemarker (politics), Oxford Brookesmarker (planning), and East Londonmarker (environmental science).


Climate change

Monbiot believes that drastic action coupled with strong political will is needed to combat global warming. Monbiot has written that climate change is the "moral question of the 21st century" and that there is little time for debate or objections to a raft of emergency actions he believes will stop climate change, including: setting targets on greenhouse emissions using the latest science; issuing every citizen with a 'personal carbon ration'; new building regulations with houses built to German passivhaus standards; banning incandescent lightbulbs, patio heaters, garden floodlights, and other inefficient technologies and wasteful applications; constructing large offshore wind farms; replacing the national gas grid with a hydrogen pipe network; a new national coach network to make journeys using public transport faster than using a car; all petrol stations to supply leasable electric car batteries with stations equipped with a crane service to replace depleted batteries; scrap road-building and road-widening programmes, redirecting their budgets to tackle climate change; reduce UK airport capacity by 90%; closing down all out-of-town superstores and replacing them with warehouses and a delivery system.

In The Guardian, Monbiot wrote: ‘flying across the Atlantic is as unacceptable, in terms of its impact on human well-being, as child abuse’. Later he conceded that he did himself fly 'hypocritically or paradoxically, depending on your point of view', and landed in Toronto on 29 November to challenge Canada's climate change policies. Accused of hypocrisy by Julie Burchill, Monbiot defended himself in a column, 'Hypocrites unite!'

Monbiot says the campaign against climate change is 'unlike almost all the public protests' that came before it:
It is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity.
It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less.
Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves.

Monbiot also thinks that economic recession can be a good thing for the planet:"Is it not time to recognise that we have reached the promised land, and should seek to stay there? Why would we want to leave this place in order to explore the blackened waste of consumer frenzy followed by ecological collapse? Surely the rational policy for the governments of the rich world is now to keep growth rates as close to zero as possible? " While he does recognize that recession can cause hardship, he points out that economic growth can cause hardship as well. For example, the increase in sales of jet skis would count as economic growth, but they would also cause hardships such as water pollution and noise pollution.

Monbiot purchased a Renault Clio (diesel) after moving to a small town in mid-Wales in 2007, leading to charges of hypocrisy. Similarly he has also travelled through Canada and the United States, campaigning on climate change and promoting his book. He contends that this travel was justifiable as it sought to boost the case for much greater carbon cuts there.

He is the patron of the UK student campaign network People & Planet and appears in the film The Age of Stupid, which premiered in the UK March 2009.

Debate with Ian Plimer

Monbiot harshly criticised the book Heaven and Earth by climate change skeptic Ian Plimer, saying that "Since its publication in Australia it has been ridiculed for a hilarious series of schoolboy errors, and its fudging and manipulation of the data", Plimer challenged Monbiot to a public debate on the issues covered in the book. Monbiot responded by insisting that Plimer first answer a series of written questions for publication on The Guardian's website. Plimer refused and Monbiot labeled Plimer a "grandstander" with a "broad yellow streak" who has nowhere answered the accusations of serious errors in his Heaven and Earth book, and accused him of trying to "drown out the precise refutations published by his book's reviewers". Plimer then reversed his decision, and agreed to answer written questions in return for a live debate. Monbiot's response on receiving Plimer's contribution was one of disappointment, saying Plimer's response "so far consists not of answers, but of questions addressed to me." Monbiot told Plimer that he is not qualified to answer Plimer's questions (although Gavin Schmidt of NASAmarker did answer them). On September 2, 2009, Monbiot published another column in The Guardian asking: "Is Ian Plimer ever going to answer my questions?" and suggested that Plimer was evading the questions by using the Chewbacca defense. Negotiations with Plimer for a face-to-face debate eventually broke down and no debate was held.

Citizen's arrest

Monbiot attempted an unsuccessful citizen's arrest in May 2008 of John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, when the latter attended the Hay Festival to give a talk on international relations. Monbiot argued that Bolton was one of the perpetrators of the Iraq War.

Political parties

He was involved initially with the Respect political party, but he broke with the organisation when it chose to run candidates against the Green Party in the 2004 election to the European Parliament.He is a supporter of the magazine New Internationalist, which campaigns for social and environmental justice worldwide. In an interview with the British political blog Third Estate in September 2009, Monbiot expressed his support for the policies of Plaid Cymru, saying "I have finally found the party that I feel very comfortable with. That’s not to say I feel uncomfortable with the Green Party, on the whole I support it, but I feel even more comfortable with Plaid.”

Indigenous rights

George Monbiot has been associated with the cause of indigenous rights, and has sought to denouce threats to tribal people, at the face of corporate interests. In October 2009, it was released the book, We Are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples, in which he is one of the contributors. The book explores the culture of peoples around the world, portraying both its diversity and the threats it faces. Among other contributors, we can find several western writers, such as Laurens van der Post, Noam Chomsky, Claude Levi-Strauss; and also indigenous peoples, such as Davi Kopenawa Yanomami and Roy Sesana. The royalties from the sale of this book go to the indigenous rights organization, Survival International.

Published works

Monbiot's first book was Poisoned Arrows (1989), a work of investigative travel journalism exposing the transmigration programme funded by the Suharto government and the World Bank, and the devastating effects on both the migrants and the indigenous people of West Papuamarker. It was followed by Amazon Watershed (1991) which documented expulsions of Brazilian peasant farmers from their land and followed them thousands of miles across the forest to the territory of the Yanomami Indians, and showed how timber bought in Britain was being stolen from indigenous and biological reserves in Brazilmarker. His third book, No Man's Land: An Investigative Journey Through Kenya and Tanzania (1994), documented the seizure of land and cattle from nomadic people in Kenyamarker and the Tanzania, by - among other forces - game parks and safari tourism.

In 2000, he published Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain. The book examines the role of corporate power within the United Kingdom, on both a local and national level, and argues that corporate involvement in politics is a serious threat to democracy. Subjects discussed in the book include the building of the Skye Bridge, corporate involvement in the National Health Service, the role of business in university research and the conditions which influence the granting of planning permission.

His fifth book, The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order, was published in 2003. The book is an attempt to set out a positive manifesto for change for the global justice movement. Monbiot criticises anarchism and Marxism, arguing that any possible solution to the world's inequalities must be rooted in a democratic parliamentary system. The four main changes to global governance which Monbiot argues for are a democratically-elected world parliament which would pass resolutions on international issues; a democratised United Nations General Assembly to replace the unelected UN Security Council; the proposed International Clearing Union which would automatically discharge trade deficits and prevent the accumulation of debt; and a fair trade organisation which would regulate world trade in a way that protects the economies of poorer countries.

The book also discusses ways in which these ideas may be put into practice. He posits that the United States and Western European states are heavily dependent on the existence of this debt, and that when faced with a choice between releasing the developing world from debt and the collapse of the global economy, their internal economic interests will dictate that they opt for the "soft landing" option. However, Monbiot emphasises that he does not present the manifesto as a "final or definitive" answer to global inequalities but intends that it should open debate and stresses that those who reject it must offer their own solutions. He argues that ultimately the global justice movement "must seek [...] to provide a coherent programme of alternatives to the concentrated power of the dictatorship of vested interests."

Monbiot's next book, Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning, published in 2006, focuses on the issue of climate change. He argues that a 90 percent reduction in carbon emissions is necessary in developed countries in order to prevent disastrous changes to the climate. He then sets out to demonstrate how such a reduction could be achieved within the United Kingdom, without a significant fall in living standards, through changes in housing, power supply and transport.


He has honorary doctorates from the University of St Andrews and the University of Essex, and an honorary fellowship from Cardiff University.

In 1995, Nelson Mandela presented him with a United Nations Global 500 Award for outstanding environmental achievement.He has also won the Lloyds National Screenwriting Prize for his screenplay The Norwegian, a Sony Award for radio production, the Sir Peter Kent Award and the OneWorld National Press Award. In November 2007 his book Heat was awarded the Premio Mazotti, an Italian book prize. But he was denied the money given with the prize because he refused to travel to Venice to collect it in person, arguing that it wasn't a good enough reason to justify flying.


  • Poisoned Arrows: An Investigative Journey Through Indonesia (1989, Abacus) ISBN 0-7181-3153-3
  • Amazon Watershed (1991, Abacus) ISBN 0-7181-3428-1
  • Mahogany Is Murder: Mahogany Extraction from Indian Reserves in Brazil (1992) ISBN 1-85750-160-8
  • No Man's Land: An Investigative Journey Through Kenya and Tanzania (1994, Picador) ISBN 0-333-60163-7
  • Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (2000, Macmillan) ISBN 0-333-90164-9
  • Anti-capitalism: A Guide to the Movement (2001, Bookmarks) ISBN 1-898876-78-9 contributor
  • Europe Inc.: Regional and Global Restructuring and the Rise of Corporate Power (2003, Pluto Press) foreword by George Monbiot, ISBN 0-7453-2163-1
  • The Age of Consent (2003, Flamingo) ISBN 0-00-715042-3
  • Manifesto for a New World Order (2004, The New Press) ISBN 1-56584-908-6
  • Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning (September 2006, Allen Lane) ISBN 0-7139-9923-3 U.S. edition (April 2007, South End Press) ISBN 978-0-89608-779-8
  • Bring on the Apocalypse: Six Arguments for Global Justice (March 2008, Atlantic Books) ISBN 978-1843546566

See also


  1. Andy Beckett, Occupying the Moral High GroundIndependent, 12 May 1996
  2. Fox, Genevieve. Enter the clean-shaven adventurer hero, The Independent, 9 May 1995.
  3. Marriages, p. 10, The Times, 9 December 1961
  4. The Daily Telegraph, 25 May 1996
  5. Monbiot CV on McSpotlight
  6. George Monbiot, 1991. Amazon Watershed. Michael Joseph, London
  7. George Monbiot, 1989. Poisoned Arrows: an investigative journey through Indonesia. Michael Joseph, London
  8. Green Anarchist 39, reproduced at!dead.htm
  9. George Monbiot "The land is ours Campaign", in George McKay DiY Culture, Party and Protest in Nineties Britain, 1998, p181
  10. Genevieve Fox Independent, 9 May 1995
  11. "Junk Science" published in The Guardian 10 May 2005, accessed 9 March 2008.
  12. "Hunting the Beast">[1]
  13. "Libertarians Are the True Social Parasites">[2]
  14. "The Flight to India">[3]
  15. "Bards of the Powerful">[4]
  16. The Guardian: Drastic action needed now
  17. " Meltdown", 'The Guardian, 29 July, 1999
  18. "Environmental Feedback", New Left Review, 45, May 2007, p 112
  19. Canada falling behind on climate fight, U.K. author says, CTV Toronto, 29 November 2009
  20. 'Guardian'Comment is Free site, 6 August 2008, reproduced at
  21. Heat, London, Allen Lane, 2006, p. 215
  22. Mr Green goes motoring, The Times, 3 June 2007
  23. George Monbiot Canada tour 2006, November 2006
  24. George Monbiot in Vancouver, 23 November 2006
  25. People & Planet - Our Patron George Monbiot
  26. "Spectator recycles climate rubbish published by sceptic, by George Monbiot, The Guardian, 9 July 2009
  27. Plimer resorts to attack as the best form of defence, George Monbiot, The Guardian, August 12, 2009
  28. Adams, Stephen. John Bolton escapes citizen's arrest at Hay Festival, The Daily Telegraph, May 28, 2008.
  29. "Monbiot quits Respect over threat to Greens" The Guardian, 17 February 2004. Accessed 10 November 2006
  31. In Bed With the Killers - George Monbiot
  32. Survival International - We Are One
  33. About George Monbiot George Monbiot's biography on Accessed 10 November 2006.
  34. Monbiot Profile on Global 500 Forum Accessed 10 November 2006.
  35. The Orwell Prize - George Monbiot profile
  36. About George Monbiot George Monbiot's biography on Accessed 10 November 2006

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