Book review: Regenesis, by George Monbiot
In Regenesis, George Monbiot takes readers on a journey through the
complexities of ecological regeneration and offers a blueprint for renewing
our planet and using its resources in a sustainable and practical way.
Monbiot is a renowned environmentalist and writer who has long been a
vocal advocate for addressing the climate crisis. This book serves as a
passionate and well-informed manifesto for change.
The book begins in classic Monbiot fashion; by marvelling at the ecological
richness that exists immediately beneath our feet, likening the diversity of
species within British soils to the biodiverse landscape of the Amazon
rainforest; a comparison few would think to draw. However the positivity
one might feel from Monbiot’s opening remarks about the fascinating and
complex capabilities of our ecological environment is soon followed by a
sobering assessment of the environmental challenges we face, from the
loss of biodiversity across the globe to the consequences of climate
change. Many readers may be inclined to close the book at this stage,
fearing they’ve stumbled upon a “doom-and-gloom” environmental text
that sends so many climate deniers into relative fury, but Regenesis
doesn’t root itself in pessimism and bleak outlooks. Instead, it adopts a
mantra of hope, resilience, and the immense potential for positive
One of the book’s greatest strengths is Monbiot’s ability to make complex
ecological concepts accessible to a wider audience. He uses science,
history, and personal anecdotes to illustrate how natural systems work
and how they can be harnessed to restore and regenerate ecosystems.
The core principles of the book can certainly be grasped without having
studied for a degree in the natural sciences.
Monbiot’s most popular and well-recognised work is his 2013 book, Feral,
which champions rewilding as a tool for reconnecting with nature and
understanding how the world’s natural resources can be nurtured to
support broader ecosystems. The heart of “Regenesis” lies in a similar
exploration of rewilding, mimetic of the values behind his earlier works.
He delves into the successes and challenges of reintroducing species and
allowing nature to reclaim its territory.
Monbiot also addresses the role of human intervention in regeneration
efforts. He discusses the potential for agroecology, a term meaning the
application of ecological principles to farming, and sustainable farming
practices to not only feed the world’s population but also restore soil
health and biodiversity. A key vision Monbiot has involves not only feeding the population with sustainable land management, but understanding how
to maintain the health of our ecological environment to ensure that this
remains possible for generations.
Throughout the book, Monbiot emphasises the importance of community
involvement and global collaboration. He argues that regenerative efforts
must be a collective endeavour, involving governments, communities, and
individuals alike. His call to action is both urgent and hopeful, challenging
readers to consider their own roles in the fight for a healthier planet.
Although, some may not take too much comfort in his message when it
becomes clear that commitment and policy from government is essential
for the progress to be achieved.
While “Regenesis” is a thought-provoking and often rousing read, it is not
without its criticisms. Some may find Monbiot’s vision of large-scale
rewilding and radical change daunting or impractical, and his optimism
could at times be taken as overly idealistic and somewhat romanticised.
Additionally, the book could benefit from a more comprehensive
exploration of the challenges and barriers that may hinder regenerative
efforts. Though it was enlightening to read his insights on what ecological
restoration may entail, more could be said for the non-ecological actions
that need to be taken imminently, such as effective land management and
succinct climate policies for which governments and organisations are
held accountable. This is where Monbiot’s book may be critiqued as
idealistic, since the reality of achieving his vision feels, at times,
In conclusion, Regenesis offers a hopeful perspective on how humanity
can work in harmony with nature to address the pressing environmental
challenges of our time. While it may not provide all the answers, and may
soften the gargantuan challenges that block our path to them, it serves as
a vital call to action for individuals, communities, and policymakers to
embark on the necessary journey of regenerating our planet.
By Tim Mooney, Manchester, October 2023