A few years ago, George Monbiot was persona non grata in seven countries and had a life sentence in absentia in Indonesia. He is now a bestselling author, columnist for the Guardian and Visiting Professor at the School of the Built Environment at Oxford Brookes University. In 1995 Nelson Mandela presented him with a United Nations Global 500 Award for outstanding environmental achievement. He has been named by the Evening Standard as one of the 25 most influential people in Britain, and by the Independent on Sunday as one of the 40 international prophets of the 21st Century. His books include Captive State: the Corporate Takeover of Britain and The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order. His latest book, published by Penguin, is Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning.
He has held visiting fellowships or professorships at the universities of Oxford (environmental policy), Bristol (philosophy), Keele (politics) and East London (environmental science). His weekly column for the Guardian is syndicated in the US, France, Italy, Canada, Australia, India, Pakistan, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and Russia, and he appears frequently on radio and television. His website, www.monbiot.com, is one of the world’s highest-ranked comment sites and holds an archive of his articles.
George Monbiot author of Heat, answers our questions.
What inspired you to write Heat and when did you first think of it?
In May 2005, I was asked in a public meeting what this country would look like after our carbon emissions had been cut by 80%. I had no idea what the answer was, and I wanted to find out.
What changes have you made to the way you live your life since thinking about climate change?
I got rid of my car, stopped shopping at supermarkets, started buying my electricity from a "green" supplier and took on five allotments, to try to grow all my own fruit and vegetables.
How do you get around town?
What do you tend to spend your time doing when you aren't working?
Mostly growing fruit and vegetables! But also kayaking, playing ultimate frisbee and looking after my daughter, who'll be six months old when this book is published.
You have five allotments - what do you grow on them?
I have almost 40 fruit trees, most of them old apple varieties such as the Pitmaston Pineapple, Ribston Pippin, Reverend W. Wilkes, Ashmead's Kernel and Miller's Seedling, but also plums, cherries, medlars, quinces and figs. There are about 150 feet of fruit bushes, then vegetable beds where I grow beans, sweetcorn, squashes, beetroot, onions, potatoes, carrots, salsify, spinach, pak choi, mizuna, rocket, purslane, dill, coriander, basil, lettuces, radishes, Chinese mustard, broccoli, kale, landcress, tomatoes, cucumbers and lots of slugs.
Which other authors and books have influenced your writing?
My favourite authors are Tom Paine, John Clare, Jaroslav Harsek, Gogol, Balzac, John Gray, Eric Schlosser and Adam Thorpe. But aside from the technical books and reports, the biggest influences on Heat were Faust and Dr Faustus.
If there is one thing you would like people to take away from Heat what would it be?
A determination to turn climate change into this country's biggest political campaign.