George Monbiot

On Black Friday, Face the Music: 'Environmentally Conscious Consumers' Use More Energy and Carbon Than Those Who Are Less Aware

Everyone wants everything – how is that going to work? The promise of economic growth is that the poor can live like the rich and the rich can live like the oligarchs. But already we are bursting through the physical limits of the planet that sustains us. Climate breakdown, soil loss, the collapse of habitats and species, the sea of plastic, insectageddon: all are driven by rising consumption. The promise of private luxury for everyone cannot be met: neither the physical nor the ecological space exists.

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Why Are the Crucial Questions About Hurricane Harvey Not Being Asked?

It is not only Donald Trump’s government that censors the discussion of climate change; it is the entire body of polite opinion. This is why, though the links are clear and obvious, most reports on Hurricane Harvey have made no mention of the human contribution to it.

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Finally, a Breakthrough Alternative to Growth Economics

So what are we going to do about it? This is the only question worth asking. But the answers appear elusive. Faced with a multifaceted crisis – the capture of governments by billionaires and their lobbyists, extreme inequality, the rise of demagogues, above all the collapse of the living world – those to whom we look for leadership appear stunned, voiceless, clueless. Even if they had the courage to act, they have no idea what to do.

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How Corporate Dark Money Is Taking Power on Both Sides of the Atlantic

It took corporate America a while to warm to Donald Trump. Some of his positions, especially on trade, horrified business leaders. Many of them favoured Ted Cruz or Scott Walker. But once Trump had secured the nomination, the big money began to recognise an unprecedented opportunity.

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Weapon of Mass Distraction: Donald Trump Has Conned America into the Abyss

Now that a reality TV star is preparing to become president of the United States, can we agree that celebrity culture is more than just harmless fun? That it might in fact be an essential component of the systems that govern our lives?

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Most Everyone Just Wants to Watch Netflix While the Free World Is Taken Over by Super Rich Plutocrats

The following is an excerpt from the new book How Did We Get Into This Mess? by George Monbiot (Verso Books, 2016):

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Neoliberalism Is Destroying Almost Everybody's Lives - How Many People Even Know What It Is?

It’s as if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

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Who's Driving High Abortion Rates? It's the Religious Right

Here is the fact that everyone debating abortion should know: there is no association between its legality and its incidence. In other words, banning abortion does not stop the practice; it merely makes it more dangerous.

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Why Consumer Christmas Is Something of a Death Cult

There’s nothing they need, nothing they don’t own already, nothing they even want. So you buy them a solar-powered waving queen; a belly button brush; a silver-plated ice cream tub holder; a “hilarious” inflatable zimmer frame; a confection of plastic and electronics called Terry the Swearing Turtle; or – and somehow I find this significant – a Scratch Off World wall map.

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We’re Not as Selfish as We Think We Are. Here’s the Proof

Do you find yourself thrashing against the tide of human indifference and selfishness? Are you oppressed by the sense that while you care, others don’t? That, because of humankind’s callousness, civilisation and the rest of life on Earth are basically stuffed? If so, you are not alone. But neither are you right.

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How a Corporate Cult Captures and Destroys the Best Graduates at British Universities

To seek enlightenment, intellectual or spiritual; to do good; to love and be loved; to create and to teach: these are the highest purposes of humankind. If there is meaning in life, it lies here.

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How the Wealthy Rob Our Most Productive People

There is an inverse relationship between utility and reward. The most lucrative, prestigious jobs tend to cause the greatest harm. The most useful workers tend to be paid least and treated worst.

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The Astonishing Cruelty of the U.S. Government Towards a Country Desperately in Need of Help

Let me introduce you to the world’s most powerful terrorist recruiting sergeant: a US federal agency called the office of the comptroller of the currency. Its decision to cause a humanitarian catastrophe in one of the poorest, most troubled places on Earth could resonate around the world for decades.

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How We Can Release Ourselves From the Tyrannical Grip of Corporate Power

Does this sometimes feel like a country under enemy occupation? Do you wonder why the demands of so much of the electorate seldom translate into policy? Why parties of the left seem incapable of offering effective opposition to market fundamentalism, let alone proposing coherent alternatives? Do you wonder why those who want a kind and decent and just world, in which both human beings and other living creatures are protected, so often appear to be opposed by the entire political establishment?

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The Age of Loneliness Is Killing Us

What do we call this time? It’s not the information age: the collapse of popular education movements left a void filled by marketing and conspiracy theories. Like the stone age, iron age and space age, the digital age says plenty about our artifacts but little about society. The Anthropocene, in which humans exert a major impact on the biosphere, fails to distinguish this century from the previous 20. What clear social change marks out our time from those that precede it? To me it’s obvious. This is the Age of Loneliness.

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The Kink in the Human Brain: Why Are Humans OK with Destroying the Planet?

This is a moment at which anyone with the capacity for reflection should stop and wonder what we are doing.

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Sick of This Market-Driven World? You Should Be

To be at peace with a troubled world: this is not a reasonable aim. It can be achieved only through a disavowal of what surrounds you. To be at peace with yourself within a troubled world: that, by contrast, is an honourable aspiration. This column is for those who feel at odds with life. It calls on you not to be ashamed.

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How the Corporate Takeover of Society Is Leaving Us Feeling Empty Inside

How do you engineer a bland, depoliticised world, a consensus built around consumption and endless growth, a dream world of materialism and debt and atomisation, in which all relations can be prefixed with a dollar sign, in which we cease to fight for change? You delegate your powers to companies whose profits depend on this model.

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Want to Avoid Depression, Anxiety and Broken Relationships? Don't Live the Consumer Lifestyle of a 1 Percenter

That they are crass, brash and trashy goes without saying. But there is something in the pictures posted on Rich Kids of Instagram (andhighlighted by the Guardian last week) that inspires more than the usual revulsion towards crude displays of opulence. There is a shadow in these photos – photos of a young man wearing all four of his Rolex watches, a youth posing in front of his helicopter, endless pictures of cars, yachts, shoes, mansions, swimming pools and spoilt white boys throwing gangster poses in private jets – of something worse: something that, after you have seen a few dozen, becomes disorienting, even distressing.

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Why I'm Eating My Words on Veganism – Again

He did it quietly, and the decision is the better for that: Al Gore, according to reports in the US press, has gone vegan.

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The More Money We Have, the Less We Care About the Impacts of Our Consumption

Guilt is good. It’s the feature that distinguishes the rest of the population from psychopaths. It’s the sensation you are able to feel when you possess a capacity for empathy.

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A Full-Frontal Assault on Democracy in Europe and the United States

Remember that referendum about whether we should create a single market with the United States? You know, the one that asked whether corporations should have the power to strike down our laws? No, I don't either. Mind you, I spent 10 minutes looking for my watch the other day before I realised I was wearing it. Forgetting about the referendum is another sign of ageing. Because there must have been one, mustn't there? After all that agonising over whether or not we should stay in the European Union, the government wouldn't cede our sovereignty to some shadowy, undemocratic body without consulting us. Would it?

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Forget Climate Change, We Must Prepare for a Catastrophic Climate Breakdown

Already, a thousand blogs and columns insist the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's new report is a rabid concoction of scare stories whose purpose is to destroy the global economy. But it is, in reality, highly conservative.

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Obama Is Presiding Over the Biggest Rogue State in the World, Trampling Every Law It Demands That Others Uphold

You could almost pity these people. For 67 years successive US governments have resisted calls to reform the UN security council. They've defended a system which grants five nations a veto over world affairs, reducing all others to impotent spectators. They have abused the powers and trust with which they have been vested. They have collaborated with the other four permanent members (the UK, Russia, China and France) in a colonial carve-up, through which these nations can pursue their own corrupt interests at the expense of peace and global justice.

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If You Love Nature and Defend It Against Human Destruction, Be Prepared to Be Called a Fascist

Two months ago, American canvas weevil was found in the archives of the National Gallery. After ravaging the Metropolitan and Guggenheim collections in the US, it is now working its way through the gallery's storage rooms. Hundreds of old masters have been destroyed. The curators fear that much of the collection will go the same way.

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How a Modern Inquisition, With the Help of Pope Francis, Stifled the Movement Protecting the Poor

“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.” So said the Brazilian archbishop Dom Hélder Câmara. His adage exposes one of the great fissures in the Catholic Church, and the emptiness of the new Pope’s claim to be on the side of the poor.

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Can I Buy a Smartphone That's Not Soaked in the Blood of the World's Poor?

If you are too well connected, you stop thinking. The clamour, the immediacy, the tendency to absorb other people's thoughts, interrupt the deep abstraction required to find your own way. This is one of the reasons why I have not yet bought a smartphone. But the technology is becoming ever harder to resist. Perhaps this year I will have to succumb. So I have asked a simple question: can I buy an ethical smartphone?

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An Astonishing Argument for Why Violent Crime Rates Have Dropped

It seemed, at first, preposterous. The hypothesis was so exotic that I laughed. The rise and fall of violent crime during the second half of the 20th century and first years of the 21st were caused, it proposed, not by changes in policing or imprisonment, single parenthood, recession, crack cocaine or the legalisation of abortion, but mainly by … lead.

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2012: The Year We Did Our Best to Abandon the Natural World

It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half-century.

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Time to Face the Facts: Our Level of Consumption Is Pathological

There’s nothing they need, nothing they don’t own already, nothing they even want. So you buy them a solar-powered waving queen; a belly button brush; a silver-plated ice cream tub holder; a “hilarious” inflatable zimmer frame; a confection of plastic and electronics called Terry the Swearing Turtle; or – and somehow I find this significant – a Scratch Off World wall map.

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There Is No Stopping Climate Change Unless We Can Mobilize Against Plutocracy

Humankind’s greatest crisis coincides with the rise of an ideology that makes it impossible to address. By the late 1980s, when it became clear that manmade climate change endangered the living planet and its people, the world was in the grip of an extreme political doctrine, whose tenets forbid the kind of intervention required to arrest it.

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