Illustration by Eva Bee
The first I heard of him, nearly a decade ago, I was immediately hooked on his writing, and the ideas he was offering were surprising to read in a mainstream, if progressive, publication. He introduced me to rewilding. If you have not been reading or perhaps listening to George Monbiot during this decade you may not have noticed how his radicalism has evolved. In this editorial ostensibly about the Pandora Papers I learned something about Madeira that I want to read more about:
…A few decades after the Portuguese colonised Madeira in 1420, they developed a system that differed in some respects from anything that had gone before. By felling the forests after which they named the island (madeira is Portuguese for wood), they created, in this uninhabited sphere, a blank slate – a terra nullius – in which a new economy could be built. Continue reading
George Mobiot doesn’t just think about otters and eagles – he thinks BIG, back to the megafauna that once inhabited the temperate climates of the globe.
Rewilding offers us this fantastic opportunity to start restoring systems, or allowing them to restore themselves. I see it as reintroducing missing plants and animals, then stepping back and letting nature get on with it.
Otters near Shieldaig Island, Loch Shieldaig, Scotland. Photograph: Steve Carter
Although he may not use the term, George Monbiot believes in biophilia. His devotion to the concept of rewilding is evident in both his actions and his words, and his expressive writing about nature’s resilience and the richness of “ecological interactions” prove the point. His description of a recent trip to the Scottish highlands exemplifies both the draw of nature and his response to it:
As I came over a low ridge, I noticed a disturbance in the water below me, a few metres from the shore. I dropped into the heather and watched. A moment later, two small heads broke from the sea, then the creatures arced over and disappeared again.
After another moment, the larger one – the dog otter – scrambled out of the water with something thrashing in its mouth. He dropped it on to the rocks, gripped it again, then chewed it up. Then the bitch emerged from the sea beside him, also carrying something, that she dispatched just as quickly. They plunged in again, and I watched the trails of bubbles they made as they rummaged round the roots of the kelp that filled the shallow bay. Continue reading