George Monbiot

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George Monbiot is a writer, speaker and activist who concerns himself with environmental and political, especially societal, issues.

Many of his articles are published by The Guardian and he also publishes on his own website.

The "About George" page on his website lists his impressive CV.


Whilst Monbiot's political position is generally social-democratic he advocates for common ownership rather than either state or private ownership for some natural resources, as he discusses for example in this interview.

Extinction Rebellion

Since 2019 he has been increasingly involved with Extinction Rebellion. In March 2019 he was guest speaker at XR Oxford's "Heading for Extinction" talk, and in October he was arrested taking Non-Violent Direct Action as part of XR's "International Rebellion".

Nuclear energy

Monbiot has written dozens of articles about nuclear energy over the period 1998 to 2015. (Sep 2015 - April 2011 April 2011 - April 1998)

Notably in an article published shortly after the Fukushima accident Monbiot wrote: "Atomic energy has just been subjected to one of the harshest of possible tests, and the impact on people and the planet has been small. The crisis at Fukushima has converted me to the cause of nuclear power."

However more recently, during an Extinction Rebellion talk in Oxford in March 2019, Monbiot replied to a question about nuclear energy:

Q: Isn't the elephant in the room that even if the world's governments turned around tomorrow and decided to do what the IPCC's report said we needed to do to stay under 1.5 degrees, most of us would oppose it because the experts agree we can't do it without loads more nuclear?

A: Well, that's possibly true. Now as it happens I think that if we have a choice of fossil fuels or nuclear power, controversially perhaps, I come down on the side of nuclear power. And the reason for this is that, while nuclear has its dangers, the dangers of fossil fuels are literally orders of magnitude greater. Coal kills more people when it goes right than nuclear kills when it goes wrong. Now there are other schools of thought which say you can do it entirely with a renewable economy, but it is more difficult. Nuclear and renewables potentially can complement each other with nuclear providing the baseload which can overcome some of the intermittency issues with renewables. It means that you can potentially can do it quicker, but not, I think, with the current generation of nuclear power stations like Hinkley C which are a total disaster: they are massively expensive, they have huge legacy issues. But there's some very exciting potential in small modular reactors which actually are powered by the waste left over from the previous, really crap, designs of nuclear reactors, and I would like to see a lot more research and development going into that because what is currently a massive problem - the waste pile - could potentially be turned into a solution, and that could supply, according to the late, great, David MacKay, 500 years of zero-carbon British energy, if we wanted that.

Monbiot had previously articulated this opinion in a 2016 Guardian piece "Nuclear power – yes please. Hinkley Point – no thanks" where he wrote:

...there are several potential technologies that raise the possibility of addressing three problems at once: safely disposing of nuclear waste; meeting the country’s energy needs at low cost; and replacing high-carbon electricity with a very low-carbon source. I’m talking about small modular reactors that use nuclear waste as fuel.

The late Professor David MacKay, the brilliant and exuberant chief scientist at the previous government’s climate change department, endorsed an estimate suggesting that one of these potential technologies, the integral fast reactor, could supply all the UK’s energy needs for 500 years by consuming the nuclear waste stockpile.

Attack on Monbiot

After his March 2011 article changing his position on nuclear energy following the Fukushima accident, Monbiot was attacked in the (apparently now moribund) anti-nuclear "Blue Rock" blog[1] (which went on to attack David MacKay), which even claimed that he had become friends with the Koch brothers.

Synthetic foods

In an article and documentary[2] Monbiot discusses the land use of not only animal but also arable farming, and the possibilities for reducing both using technologies such as lab-grown meat and synthetic food such as that produced by Finnish start-up Solar Foods, which Monbiot had recently visited.

Footnotes and references

  1. "The Nuclear Meltdown of George Monbiot", Blue Rock blog, 21 Apr 2011
  2. local copy