George Joshua Richard Monbiot (// MON-bee-oh; 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), Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding (2013) and Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis (2017). He is the founder of The Land is Ours, a campaign for the right of access to the countryside and its resources in the United Kingdom.
|Alma mater||Brasenose College, Oxford|
|Spouse(s)||Angharad Penrhyn Jones|
|Awards||United Nations Global 500 Award (1995)|
Born in Kensington, Monbiot grew up in Rotherfield Peppard, Oxfordshire in a house next to Peppard Common. Politics was at the heart of family life – his father, Raymond Geoffrey Monbiot, CBE, is a businessman who headed the Conservative Party's trade and industry forum, while his mother, Rosalie – the elder daughter of Conservative MP Roger Gresham Cooke – was a Conservative councillor who led South Oxfordshire District Council for a decade. His uncle, Canon Hereward Cooke, was the Liberal Democrat deputy leader of Norwich City Council between 2002 and 2006.
Monbiot was educated at a preparatory boarding school between 1971 and 1976. He did not enjoy his time there, later believing that boarding school destroys one's imagination. He was then educated at Stowe School, a public school in Stowe, Buckinghamshire. He won an open scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford. He stated that his "political awakening" was prompted by reading Bettina Ehrlich's book, Paolo and Panetto, while at his prep school, and that he regretted attending Oxford, stating that his time there was unhappy and he did not fit in with Brasenose's culture.
After graduating with a degree in zoology, Monbiot 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 Indonesia, Brazil, and East Africa. His activities led to his being made persona non grata in seven 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 Lodwar General Hospital in north-western Kenya, having contracted cerebral malaria.
He joined the British roads protest movement and was often called to give press interviews; as a result he was denounced as 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 United Nations diplomat, who was then Warden at Green College, Oxford, made the young protester a Visiting Fellow.
In November 2012, he apologised to Lord McAlpine for his "stupidity and thoughtlessness" in implying, in a tweet, that the Conservative peer was a paedophile.
In 2014, Monbiot wrote an article on the theme of loneliness. This led to a collaboration with musician Ewan McLennan. Together they released an album "Breaking the Spell of Loneliness" in October 2016 followed by a tour of the UK. Folk Radio described it as "an enthralling album" where "Each song is a short, eloquent and thought provoking essay on the destruction of our humanity and how it can be regained".
Monbiot narrated the video How Wolves Change Rivers which was based on his TED talk of 2013 on the restoration of ecosystems and landscape (rewilding) when wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone Park. In 2019, Monbiot co-presented Nature Now, a video about Natural Climate Solutions, with Greta Thunberg.
Monbiot believes that drastic action coupled with strong political will is needed to combat global warming. To reduce his personal impact on the environment, he has transitioned to a vegan lifestyle and encourages others to do the same.
Attempted arrest of John Bolton
Monbiot made an unsuccessful attempt to carry out a citizen's arrest of John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, when the latter attended the Hay Festival to give a talk on international relations in May 2008. Monbiot argued that Bolton was one of the instigators of the Iraq War, of which Monbiot was an opponent.
In January 2004, Monbiot and Salma Yaqoob co-founded the Respect – The Unity Coalition (later formally the Respect Party) which grew out of the Stop the War Coalition. He resigned from the group the following February when Respect failed to reach agreement with the Green Party not to stand candidates in the same constituencies in the forthcoming 2004 European Parliament election.
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."
In April 2010, he was a signatory to an open letter of support for the Liberal Democrats, published in The Guardian. Prior to the 2015 UK general election, he was one of several public figures who endorsed the parliamentary candidacy of the Green Party's Caroline Lucas. In August 2015, Monbiot endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election. In April 2017, he announced his intention to vote for the Labour Party in the 2017 general election.
Monbiot, who has warned that Britain is at risk of becoming a failed state, is a supporter of Scottish independence, Welsh independence and Irish reunification. On 11 February 2021, whilst on BBC Two's Politics Live, he said, "If I lived in Scotland, I'd want to get out of this corrupt, dysfunctional, chaotic union as quickly as possible. And the same applies to Wales, the same applies to Northern Ireland. I can't see the point of staying in the United Kingdom, of being chained to the United Kingdom like a block of concrete, as the boat begins to founder."
Monbiot's first book was Poisoned Arrows (1989), which is about what he called the "devastating effects" of the partially World Bank-funded transmigration program on the peoples and tribes of West Papua, a nation annexed by Indonesia. 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 indigenous Yanomami people. Monbiot also documented instances of timber being illegally cut from Indian reserves by Brazilian companies and being sold in the UK. 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 Kenya 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 in the United Kingdom, on both local and national levels, 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.
Monbiot's next book, Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning, published in 2006, focused on the issue of climate change.
Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding was published in 2013, and focuses on the concept of rewilding the planet. In the book, Monbiot attacks sheep farming as "a slow-burning ecological disaster, which has done more damage to the living systems of this country than either climate change or industrial pollution. Yet scarcely anyone seems to have noticed." He particularly looks at sheep farming in Wales. The book received favourable reviews in The Spectator and The Daily Telegraph. It won the Society of Biology Book Award for general biology in 2014.
Monbiot's weekly column for The Guardian has covered a variety of issues, concentrating on political philosophy in relation to ecological and social problems, particularly in the United Kingdom.
Monbiot has lived in Oxford for many years, but for a few years from 2007, lived in a low emissions house in the market town of Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, originally with his then-wife, writer and campaigner Angharad Penrhyn Jones, and their daughter. Because his new partner lives in Oxford, Monbiot returned by 2012. The couple's daughter, Monbiot's second, was born in early 2012. In December 2017, Monbiot was diagnosed with prostate cancer; he had surgery in March 2018.
In 1995, Nelson Mandela presented him with a United Nations Global 500 Award for outstanding environmental achievement. He was a finalist in the Lloyds National Screenwriting Prize with his screenplay The Norwegian, and won 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 chose not to travel to Venice to collect it in person, arguing that it was not a good enough reason to justify flying. In 2017, he was a recipient of the SEAL Environmental Journalism Award for his work at The Guardian.
- (1989). Poisoned Arrows: An investigative journey through the forbidden lands of West Papua. London: Abacus. ISBN 0-7181-3153-3
- (1991). Amazon Watershed: The new environmental investigation. London: Abacus. ISBN 0-7181-3428-1
- (1992). Mahogany is Murder: Mahogany Extraction from Indian Reserves in Brazil. ISBN 1-85750-160-8
- (1994). No Man's Land: An Investigative Journey Through Kenya and Tanzania. Picador. ISBN 0-333-60163-7
- (2000). Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain. Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-90164-9
- (2003). The Age of Consent. Flamingo. ISBN 0-00-715042-3
- (2004). Manifesto for a New World Order. The New Press. ISBN 1-56584-908-6
- (2006). Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning. Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9923-3
- (2008). Bring on the Apocalypse: Six Arguments for Global Justice. Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-84354-656-6
- (2013). Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1-84614-748-7
- (2016). How Did We Get into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature. London: Verso.
- (2017). Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. London: Verso. ISBN 978-1-78663-289-0
- "The end of plastic". Costing the Earth. 19 March 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
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- "Marriages". The Times. 9 December 1961. p. 10.
- The Daily Telegraph, 25 May 1996.
- "Obituary: Canon Hereward Cooke". The Times. 7 January 2010.
- "George Monbiot on how boarding school destroys the imagination". Rob Hopkins. 24 July 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
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- "Past Members". UK: Brasenose College, Oxford. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- Monbiot, George (24 August 2015). "Help me trace the book that prompted my political awakening". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
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- George Monbiot, 1991. Amazon Watershed. Michael Joseph, London
- George Monbiot, 1989. Poisoned Arrows: an investigative journey through Indonesia. Michael Joseph, London
- Monbiot, George (1994), No Man's Land: an investigative journey through Kenya and Tanzania
- Monbiot, George (1998). McKay, George (ed.). The land is ours Campaign. DiY Culture, Party and Protest in Nineties Britain. p. 181. ISBN 9781859842607.
- Mobb, Paul (25 March 2011). "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" (PDF). ecolonomics.
- Genevieve Fox. The Independent. 9 May 1995.
- Monbiot, George (10 November 2012). "Lord McAlpine – An Abject Apology". George Monbiot. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
- "Guardian columnist apologises for naming Lord McAlpine on Twitter". The Daily Telegraph. London. 9 November 2012.
- Interview, BBC Radio 4, World at One, 15 November 2012
- Monbiot, George (14 October 2014). "The age of loneliness is killing us". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
- Hughes, Tim (12 January 2017). "'No more lonely nights' - George Monbiot and Ewan McLennan bring us together to fight isolation". Oxford Times. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
- Monbiot, George (3 October 2016). "George Monbiot: why I wrote an album of anthems for all the lonely people". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
- McFadyen, Neil (11 October 2016). "Folk Radio review of "Breaking The Spell Of Loneliness", 2016". Folk Radio. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- "How Wolves Change Rivers".
- Monbiot, George. "For more wonder, rewild the world" – via www.ted.com.
- "Nature Now".
- Monbiot, G; Lynas, M.; Marshall, G.; Juniper, T.; Tindale, S. (2005). "Time to speak up for climate-change science". Nature. 434 (7033): 559. doi:10.1038/434559a. PMID 15800596.
- Monbiot, George (9 August 2016). "I've converted to veganism to reduce my impact on the living world". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
- Adams, Stephen (28 May 2008). "John Bolton escapes citizen's arrest at Hay Festival". The Daily Telegraph.
- Peace, Timothy (2013a). "All I'm asking, is for a little respect: Assessing the Performance of Britain's Most Successful Radical Left Party" (PDF). Parliamentary Affairs. 66 (2): 405–424. doi:10.1093/pa/gsr064.
- Tempest, Matthew (17 February 2004). "Monbiot quits Respect over threat to Greens". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
- An Interview with George Monbiot. "An Interview with George Monbiot". Thethirdestate.net. Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
- "Lib Dems are the party of progress". The Guardian. 28 April 2010
- Elgot, Jessica (24 April 2015). "Celebrities sign statement of support for Caroline Lucas – but not the Greens". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Monbiot, George (18 August 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn is the curator of the future. His rivals are chasing an impossible dream". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
- Monbiot, George (25 April 2017). "If ever there was a time to vote Labour, it is now". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
- Monbiot, George (6 June 2017). "I've never voted with hope before. Jeremy Corbyn has changed that". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
- Monbiot, George (13 June 2017). "The election's biggest losers? Not the Tories but the media, who missed the story". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
- Double Down News (11 February 2021). "How Britain Could Become a Failed State - George Monbiot". YouTube. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
- Monbiot, George [@GeorgeMonbiot] (18 January 2021). "In the meantime, it is surely now clear that the best protection against ongoing disaster for the people of Wales and Scotland is independence, and for the people of Northern Ireland, reunification" (Tweet). Retrieved 18 January 2021 – via Twitter.
- "Monbiot: Wales should escape 'chaotic, dysfunctional, corrupt' UK as soon as possible". Nation.Cymru. 11 February 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
- Webster, Laura (11 February 2021). "WATCH: Scottish Tory MP squirms as George Monbiot tears the 'corrupt' Union apart". The National. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
- Glossop, Ronald J. (18 November 2010). "The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order". GlobalSolutions.org. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- Monbiot, George (27 May 2013). "My manifesto for rewilding the world". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- "Philip Hoare is enchanted by a call for the return of bear, beaver and bison to Britain". The Daily Telegraph. London. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- "Sam Leith enjoys a vision of Britain where sheep may no longer safely graze". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- Website developed by James Hamlin (6 February 2014). "2014 winners". Societyofbiology.org. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
- "George Monbiot Profile". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
- Crewe, Bel (7 September 2008). "Moving house from the city to the country". The Times. London.
- Sexton, David (28 May 2013). "Wild ideas: a dream of boars, bears and wolves back in Britain". Evening Standard.
- Monbiot, George (16 April 2012). "Daughter, my generation is squandering your birthright". The Guardian.
- Monbiot, George (13 March 2018). "I have prostate cancer. But I am happy". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
- "George Monbiot: from mental health to climate breakdown". The Ecologist. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
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- "2017 SEAL Environmental Journalism Award Winners - SEAL Awards". SEAL Awards. 26 September 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2017.