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Regenesis: Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet Hardcover – 26 May 2022

4.6 out of 5 stars 199 ratings

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From the Publisher

george monbiot

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Review

This book calls for nothing less than a revolution in the future of food - one that will literally transform the face of the Earth, to make food affordable for all while restoring the living world. Such a vision sounds near impossible, but Monbiot reveals the food pioneers whose extraordinary innovations could bring it within reach. Never shying from controversy, Regenesis weaves the poetry of soil into the politics of farming to shake the ground on which we all grow. This is Monbiot's masterpiece: an urgent and exhilarating journey into remaking what and how we eat -- Kate Raworth

Regenesis speaks to us like a poem that begins with a phantasmagoria of that which lies under the soil, offers a magnificent political economy of global food production and concludes with a hopeful vision of a techno-ethical equilibrium between Humanity and Nature. It must be read -- Yanis Varoufakis

People from all walks of life should read this remarkable book. It is in my view one of the two or three most important books to appear this century -- Prof. Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government

As we begin to rethink our relationship with Nature, the unstinting work of George Monbiot becomes ever more valuable. Monbiot has been at the cutting edge of the discussion for decades, and his extraordinary book covers this complex, evolving subject with depth and breadth, sincerity and humour. I never cease to be surprised by the unexpected perspectives he brings to bear, leading me through problems I never envisaged and solutions I never imagined. We are left with the hope that the solutions might triumph, that we might make it through -- Brian Eno

A book offering evidence-based hope is a rare thing in these days of climate and nature emergency - yet that's exactly what George Monbiot has written. Inspiring and compelling, Regenesis sets out a transformative vision of a new food future with the potential to both restore nature and feed the world. Monbiot's blueprint is both wildly ambitious and deeply practical, and might well be our last best hope of stopping the sixth great extinction -- Caroline Lucas

This remarkable book, staring curiously down at the soil beneath our feet, points us convincingly in one of the directions we must travel. I learned something on every page -- Bill McKibben

George Monbiot clears paths towards solutions that lie dormant within us, which, if embraced, could transform our world and our societies into better places. He reaches for new ideas that might ignite the collective consciousness in a push to protect, rather than tragically destroy, the biosphere. Read George Monbiot and you will meet the cheerful courage and passion of a fellow traveller on this earth who seeks authentic hope -- ANOHNI

For anyone who cares about where our food comes from and its impact on the planet Regenesis is essential reading. This deeply researched book lifts the lid on our current methods of food production and all its dirty secrets: but more than that it provides a blueprint for the future. Monbiot pursues the key question: how can we have healthy food that's cheap enough for everyone to eat? His answers provide critical pathways towards a way to feed the planet -- Rosie Boycott

Forget Elon Musk's dry-as-dust retro sci-fi fantasies, George Monbiot gives us an inspiring vision of the future that is alive and kicking and grounded in the latest scientific discoveries. George Monbiot has combined his gifts as an investigator, interviewer and witty storyteller to create an exhiliarating epic! -- Robert Newman

A fascinating and ultimately positive book ... a harmonic vision of how changing our relationship to land use, farming and the food that we eat could transform our lives -- Thom Yorke

Wonderful ... Monbiot shows that the thin layer on which all terrestrial ecosystems stand is alive with organisms as diverse, fascinating and mysterious as any found above ground. He shatters the shibboleths of farming, showing the way to a radical transformation of agricultural practices and exciting new opportunities for nourishment -- David Suzuki

Regenesis is a world-making, world-changing book; at once visionary and rigorous and practicable. It rings and sings throughout with Monbiot's extraordinary combination of passion, generosity and justice. It is braced by his unshakeable commitment to bettering the planet for all its inhabitants, human and other-than-human. It is a thrilling work, more ambitious even than its predecessor, Feral, and it gripped me as I read. Recognising that "the future is underground", Monbiot shows us that the possibility for a transformed relationship with food, the living world and each other lies just beneath our feet, right under our noses -- Robert Macfarlane

A brilliant, mesmerizing, vital book. Beneath each square meter of soil live thousands of species, and each chapter of George Monbiot's eye-opening exploration of that soil and its potential is similarly, dynamically rich-delivering a whole new way of thinking about our agriculture and our diets, our climate and our future. And much needed hope, besides -- David Wallace-Wells

A genuinely brilliant, inspirational book ... George Monbiot embarks on a journey of discovery, realising that soil and its role in our life is bigger than everything else. Halfway through, I felt like a child who was bursting to share a secret with anyone who would listen. By the time I had finished reading, I felt as if the purest mountain stream had washed through my brain, and Monbiot had shared the most fundamentally important insight of his life -- Sir Tim Smit, Founder of the Eden Project

You may think you are across environmental and climate change issues, but think again. This passionate, extraordinary book opens up a compelling and vital new dimension: food and the way the world farms -- Will Hutton

With rigour, singular bravery and an infectious love for the living world, George Monbiot presents the Silent Spring of our time. Regenesis is an eye-watering reckoning of humanity's land and food crisis and an astonishing vision of survival and restoration. Monbiot takes us on a journey from the rhizospheres and the drilospheres through soil ecology, cultural myths, to the future of food all bound together with his own wonder-ful, beautifully-written observations. There is no topic more important for planetary survival than land and food, and there is no writer willing to dispense of bullshit, tell us the truth, and take on powerful forces and perceived wisdom like George Monbiot. A visionary, fearless, essential book -- Lucy Jones

Monbiot rolls up his sleeves and pulls on his boots for an uncompromising session of agricultural dragon-slaying and foodie myth-busting. Unafraid to propose a new world order for farming and food production that is kinder to both people and planet, Regenesis is rigorous and restive, but also witty, original and humane. Let us hope it is read, digested and acted on by people, politicians and policy-makers the world over -- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

I am so grateful George Monbiot has applied his razor sharp intellect, bountiful curiosity and love for the land to the complex and fundamental issue of what we eat. This book offers a deep dive into the most essential question of our time - how might we feed ourselves without destroying our planet in the process? -- Lily Cole

This is an important book and a gripping read. It will enflame vested interests on all sides. Because Monbiot has that most aggravating of gifts - the ability lucidly to point out things that people desperately do not want to be true -- Henry Dimbleby

How can we ensure that everyone is fed without destroying the biosphere? Regenesis is a lively and deeply researched enquiry that confronts our dilemmas head on. There are no easy answers, but Monbiot provides a brilliant guide to asking the right questions. Transformation is urgently needed and this book shows how it is possible -- Merlin Sheldrake

George Monbiot is a very skilful writer, and Regenesis shows all his powers at full stretch. He seems to see more fully than almost anyone else in this field, with a clarity of attention both to the smallest realities of a handful of soil and to the widest implications of the way human beings have lived and continue to live in the world. Telling things in the right order doesn't seem like one of the functions of the imagination, but again and again Monbiot shows that it is, with all the imaginative sympathy of a great storyteller as well as the overarching understanding of a moral visionary. This is a fine and necessary book -- Philip Pullman

George Monbiot is one of the most fearless and important voices in the global climate movement today -- Greta Thunberg

I used to look up to the stars for thoughts of infinity, eternity and divine cooperation. This book revealed to me I could find the same inspiration beneath the soles of my feet in less than a foot of soil. My walks on earth will never be the same as they were. The writing, observation and devotion is infectiously compelling. The learning is deep and immense -- Mark Rylance

A magnificent new overview of how we might live and feed ourselves without destroying ourselves ... It is riveting ... Along with a dazzling array of stats, there's also impressive investigative reporting ... rich food for thought, devastating figures, startling insights and even the odd joke ... A hugely important read -- Christopher Hart ― The Sunday Times

A call to raze the pastoral imaginary so that we can begin to think clearly about how we produce food and steward the soil ... To have any chance of turning the age of extinction into an age of regeneration, systemic reform, based on the facts, not pastoral myth-making, is essential -- Philippa Nuttall ― New Statesman

Colossally important... You've got to read it -- Max Porter (via Twitter)

A treasure trove of hope and solutions, and a vision for a sustainable, healthy, equitable world. We meet inspiring farmers as well as some radical solutions ... Comprehensive, devastating, rousing ... An essential book -- Rowan Hooper ― New Scientist

Big ideas, beautifully written and the portraits of people building the alternatives are gorgeous! Makes you angry and enraptured with the beauty of the natural world all at once -- Aaron Bastani (via Twitter)

Apaean to the wonder that is the ecology of soil, scientifically informed and beautifully told. The perfect bank holiday read -- Yadvinder Malhi, Professor of Ecosystem Science at the University of Oxford

Phenomenal. Clear, eloquent, fearless and devastating in its analysis. A revolution in the future of food -- Adam Rutherford (via Twitter)

Glorious ... intelligent, deeply researched .... The point Monbiot makes so ably and so necessarily is that system change is both essential and possible through a complexity of solutions ... The stakes could not be higher. If a book can change hearts and minds about one of the most critical issues of our time, this rational, humane polemic is it -- Gaia Vince ― Observer

Revolutionary ... Rigorous, bold and clear-sighted ... To conjure the miracle of more food with less farming, we need to rethink what lies beneath our feet -- David Farrier ― Prospect

Vivid and memorable... Regenesis is a compelling, deeply researched account of a deeply broken food system and how we might heal itIrish Times

A compelling story of soil, food and farmingFinancial Times

Ambitious and deeply researched ... Monbiot exposes, with journalistic flair, the 'gulf between perception and reality' about where and how our food is produced ... it includes some fascinating case studies ... bristling with ideas and imagination -- Laura Battle ― Financial Times

Eye-opening, persuasive, meticulously researched [...] Monbiot thinks globally [... and] his arguments take account of the needs of everyone in society -- Amy Liptrot ― Guardian

A paean to soil, told more gracefully and memorably than anyone before him... Regenesis is likely to become a classic. Monbiot is a writer of the first rank -- Bill McKibben ― Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

George Monbiot is an author, Guardian columnist and environmental campaigner. His best-selling books include Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life and Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning; his latest is Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. George cowrote the concept album Breaking the Spell of Loneliness with musician Ewan McLennan, and has made a number of viral videos. One of them, adapted from his 2013 TED talk, How Wolves Change Rivers, has been viewed on YouTube over 40 million times. Another, on Natural Climate Solutions, which he co-presented with Greta Thunberg, has been watched over 60 million times.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allen Lane (26 May 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 024144764X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0241447642
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 16.2 x 3.3 x 24 cm
  • Customer reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 199 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
199 global ratings

Top reviews from United Kingdom

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 July 2022
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1.0 out of 5 stars Monbiot’s Regenesis: A review & response
By Regenetarianism on 18 July 2022
(Preface: Funny the Amazon review of my review is making the same fallacious claims that Monbiot made in his book about the yields of regenerative systems being so much less than those of conventional systems. So here's the truth being demonstrated by farm consultants like John Kempf, Dr. David Mongomery, Dr. Jon Lundgren, etc.....and that's when healthy soils are restored with regenerative systems, there's INCREASED production in these regenerative systems. Monbiot relied on research that made conclusions based on degraded and unhealthy soils for yields as well as for carrying capacities and soil carbon. None of the research Monbiot cited accounted for any of the newer microbial soil science on these and other topics).

With so much dietary and political tribalism nowadays, I find it is very important to listen to and read varying viewpoints including many opposing points of view that challenge my own. So, I picked-up and read a copy of George Monbiot's new book, Regenesis. Not sure I was expecting any great insights, but still I felt it was important to read Monbiot's book cover to cover (as well as some of his references) to understand where he was coming from before offering any sort of critique.

While I appreciated Monbiot's realization as to the importance of soil health and shared his concerns about the worst aspects of agricultural production, the short version of my review is that I didn't find much of what Monbiot had to offer very insightful or challenging. Most of the arguments he puts forth in his book, he's written about in his Guardian column and stated in debates for the past two or three years. I've also previously critiqued some of those arguments. So, aside from a wrinkle or two, at least for me there wasn't much if any new ground covered in Monbiot's new agenda driven book. Plus what's especially ironic is that most of the research Monbiot relies upon doesn't account for any of the newer soil science that Monbiot recently discovered. This is especially true in regards to land carrying capacity, soil organic matter formation and yields of organic systems.

A large part of the problem is that Monbiot, a vegan, relied heavily on advocacy research conducted by other vegans. Besides this research looking at degraded soil systems, such research is also set-up with modeling, methodologies and bad assumptions to make livestock, especially pasture based livestock, look as awful as possible. This research is then used by other organizations (that Monbiot referenced) like One World in Data [OWiD] and the World Resources Institute [WRI] to generate materials (especially graphics) to further this advocacy. All of this research and materials are then given a greater audience by media outlets like the BBC, NPR and the outlet Monbiot works for The Guardian. Coincidentally philacapitalists like the Bill and Medlinda Gates Foundation [BMGF] provide funding and or donations to organizations like OWiD, WRI and media outlets like the BBC, NPR and The Guardian.

So whether Monbiot realizes it or not, his vilification of livestock, and his push for synthetic meat alternatives (which includes fermented proteins), neatly align with and further Bill Gates's agenda and investment strategies. Thus , given Monbiot's politics, it's incredibly ironic that Monbiot doesn't even recognize that he's BMGF's useful pawn. So Monbiot ultimately argues against an egalitarian small 'd' democratic open source system of food production, regenerative Ag, in favor of a capitally intensive corporatist patent protected solution that's funded by billionaires and venture capitalists.

(As explained in an article in The Nation, philacapitalist organizations like BMGF donate a small percentage of their income to maintain their non-profit status. They do this strategically to media outlets, institutions and researchers that will generate favorable content (news stories, editorials, policies, and research) that can be used to manufacture consent for their intellectual property [IP] controlled investment strategies).

As for a longer version of my review and response to Monbiot's book, please continue reading. Monbiot got so many things wrong and ass backwards that one could write another book just correcting all of his mistakes and biases. So my apologies, in advance, for the length of the below reply.

After Monbiot made discoveries about soil health, the complexity of soil ecosystems, and illustrated a few of the many problems with agricultural food production, in the first couple chapters of his new book (which I largely applauded and concurred with), Monbiot very absolutely and confidently proposed solutions to all of these food production problems he described. To people relatively new to these topics, especially soil science and the adverse impacts of industrial agriculture, Monbiot's self-assured black or white absolutism may be mistaken for actual learning. It isn't. This absolutism is actually quite ironic since one of the best tools available to quickly rebuild healthy soils is well managed livestock. I'll detail why further below. Though for those more familiar with this subject matter, it became quickly and painfully obvious that Monbiot's understanding of soil science, range science, atmospheric chemistry, botany, agricultural production...or pretty much all the topics he discussed in Regenesis...was and still is very shallow. This is largely due to Monbiot's over reliance on advocacy driven research that looked at degraded soil ecosystems and thus didn't account for any of the more recent soil microbiological science that Monbiot discovered in the first chapter of his book.

In order to write his book, Monbiot claimed to have read 5,000 papers and a half a shelf of other books on these subjects. If this is indeed true, unfortunately Monbiot lacked the critical analytical ability and sufficient scientific background to properly understand most of the research that he read. In particular, he didn't understand the methodological limitations of all the advocacy papers he read to confirm his biases. Those biases include his religious belief that any and all livestock is inherently destructive, and that any sort of regenerative system inherently will produce lower yields than industrial systems of food production. So rather than more nuanced discussions, based on an honest concerted objective effort to search for best agricultural practices, readers are left with over generalizations, polarization, worst case scenarios (catastrophization), out of context statistics, a new techno-optimistic meta-narrative and Monbiot's never ending neo-colonial mythological pursuit of pristine wilderness. This pursuit of this myth along with Monbiot's propensity to use out of context statistics are especially ironic given Monbiot's admonitions toward the end of his book regarding the need to contextualize numbers and not rely on myths. What's even more ironic is Monbiot's insistence on system thinking when Monbiot seems completely incapable of any in depth holistic thought.

A large part of Monbiot's problem is his over reliance on meta-analysis from ivory tower researchers who share his white hat biases. These researchers also think livestock is the root of all evil. None of these researchers understand any of the newer microbial soil science. So they don't even realize that their respective meta-analysis are primarily looking at degraded soil ecosystems. More importantly many of these researchers in their ivory towers seem to be even more disconnected from their topics of research (food production) than Monbiot. So keyword searches on computer screens replace any in situ empiricism while activism masquerades as science. Some of this disconnection is amusing, though most just borders on satire.

Monbiot directs some of his most vicious vitriol toward pastured or extensive management especially holistic or regenerative grazing. Regenerative grazing is a tool to restore soil and ecosystem health. So naturally Monbiot claims that such grazing management is the absolutely worst kind possible. Why? This form of grazing management undermines Monbiot's mission. Monbiot's mission is to spare land for his myth of pristine wilderness and position precision fermentation as an alternative to meat. To achieve those goals, he cites predictable references to "prove" that extensive or pastured livestock systems are the worse systems imaginable. I note "predictable" since these references are the ones typically cited to "debunk" any form of regenerative grazing system that uses or integrates livestock. So these references include papers by the usual suspects including Hayek, Garnett, Briske and Poore on issues ranging from land use, environmental degradation, soil carbon sequestration and, of course, enteric methane. More specifically in regards to methane, Monbiot also demonstrates that he doesn't understand how the new GWP* metric works. How carbon actually cycles and hydroxyl oxidation works seem to be beyond Monbiot's limited ability to system think.

To get a better sense of how Monbiot's arguments against regenerative grazing systems are nothing but a house of cards, it helps to look at some of the specific references that he cited. So, let's start with a 2018 paper co-authored by animal rights activist Matthew Hayek. This paper basically argued that there's not enough land to produce the same amount of beef in extensive pastured systems as is currently produced in feedlot production. This paper relied on slaughter weight calculations as well as forage data from two prior studies by Gidon Eshel (Eshel et al 2014, Eshel et al 2017) another proponent of plant based diets and getting rid of beef production. Both authors parsed existing data based on a set of assumptions that excluded best practices of forage production as Eshel notes in his introduction as follows:

"...such beef production changes would be accompanied by enhanced grassland productivity (for example, direct integration of cattle ranching with agricultural, enhanced rotations or increased reliance on legume enriched paddocks) and embedded or broader structural changes that take nimble advantage of resource multi-purposing (for example, high yield silvopasture systems in which beef and timber share the same land. Here, however, we set out to explore the narrower problem of quantifying "sustainable" beef availability under existing conditions and practices..."

Hayek made a similar qualification:

"...Statistical and processed-based modeling can assess under performing areas, which could be optimized through better fertilizing, soil conditioning, and rotational management. Currently, less than 2% of all agricultural lands in the US undergo a rotation between cropland and pasture, though this type of management is known to increase forage productivity. The required 30% increase in the overall cattle population must be accompanied by large increases in the productivity of existing pastures, on the order of 40%–370%, to avoid clearing additional native vegetation or competition with the human food supply...."

These two aren't soil or range scientists. They're also not agroecologists. So neither, in their respective data analysis, accounted for the current state of soil and land degradation. Thus they didn't account for the increased quality and amount of forage production that's possible with improved soil health, better grazing management, and the increased utilization of integrated systems. With integrated systems (silvopasture, cover crop grazing, pasture cropping, etc), crops, specialty crops and livestock can all be raised on the SAME land. With higher quality forage (more nutrient dense), higher average daily gains [ADG] can be achieved.

...this review continues on my blog....unfortunately I cannot provide a link to that blog here or my review will not be approved or removed.
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