George Monbiot Quotes on Materialism, Society and the Natural World

Expand your knowledge and ways of thinking with these unique George Monbiot Quotes.

As a young man, George Monbiot spent six years working as an investigative journalist in West Papua, Brazil and East Africa, during which time he was shot at, shipwrecked, beaten up, stung into a poisoned coma by hornets, became lost for days in a rainforest (where he ate rats and insects to avert starvation) and (incorrectly) pronounced clinically dead in a hospital in northern Kenya.

Today, he leads a less adventurous life as an author, columnist for the Guardian and environmental campaigner.

He has made a number of viral videos. One of them, “How Wolves Change Rivers,” based on an extract from his last TED Talk, has been watched 40 million times on YouTube.

TED TALK

Books by George Monbiot:

  • Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis (5 September 2017, Verso)
  • How Did We Get into This Mess? Politics, Equality, Nature (February 2016, Verso)
  • Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding (May 2013, Allen Lane)
  • Bring on the Apocalypse: Six Arguments for Global Justice (March 2008, Atlantic Books)
  • Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning (September 2006, Allen Lane)
  • The Age of Consent (2003, Flamingo)
  • Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (2000, Macmillan)
  • No Man’s Land: An Investigative Journey Through Kenya and Tanzania (1994, Picador)
  • Amazon Watershed (1991, Abacus)
  • Poisoned Arrows: An Investigative Journey Through Indonesia (1989, Abacus)
Wolves in the wild
Wolves ©Thomas Bonometti

George Monbiot Quotes

“So if you don’t fit in; if you feel at odds with the world; if your identity is troubled and frayed; if you feel lost and ashamed, it could be because you have retained the human values you were supposed to have discarded. You are a deviant. Be proud.”

“To seek enlightenment, intellectual or spiritual; to do good; to love and be loved; to create and to teach: these are the highest purposes of humankind. If there is meaning in life, it lies here.”

– How Did We Get into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature

“If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.”

“Progress is measured by the speed at which we destroy the conditions that sustain life.”

“Thinking like ethical people, dressing like ethical people, decorating our homes like ethical people makes not a damn of difference unless we also behave like ethical people.”

– Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning

Materialism

“We are often told we are materialistic. It seems to me, we are not materialistic enough. We have a disrespect for materials. We use it quickly and carelessly.

Mountains in Switzerland
Mountains in Switzerland ©Etiene Bosiger

If were genuinely materialistic people, we would understand where materials come from and where they go to.

But, at the moment, the entire global economy seems to be built on the model of digging things up from one hole in the ground on one side of the earth, transporting them around the world, using them for a few days, and sticking them in a hole in the ground on the other side of the world.”

“The angry men know that this golden age (of fossil fuels) has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate.

George Monbiot Quotes on Nature
Forest ©Ca Tu

Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy, but knowing at heart that these restrictions are driven by something far more repulsive to the unrestrained man: the decencies we owe to other human beings.”

Society

“By rebuilding community, we become proud of our society, proud of our institutions, proud of our nations, proud of ourselves. By coming together we discover who we are. We ignite our capacity for empathy and altruism.

Togetherness and belonging allow us to become the heroes of the story.”

– Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis

“Governments are deemed to succeed or fail by how well they make money go round, regardless of whether it serves any useful purpose.

They regard it as a sacred duty to encourage the country’s most revolting spectacle: the annual feeding frenzy in which shoppers queue all night, then stampede into the shops, elbow, trample and sometimes fight to be the first to carry off some designer junk which will go into landfill before the sales next year.

The madder the orgy, the greater the triumph of economic management.”

“The schedules are crammed with shows urging us to travel further, drive faster, build bigger, buy more, yet none of them are deemed to offend the rules, which really means that they don’t offend the interests of business or the pampered sensibilities of the Aga class.

The media, driven by fear and advertising, are hopelessly biased towards the consumer economy and against the biosphere.”

George Monbiot Quotes Ice forest
©Lukas Vanatko

“The most grotesque doctrines can look like common sense when embedded in a compelling narrative”

Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis

The Natural World

“Arrange these threats in ascending order of deadliness: wolves, vending machines, cows, domestic dogs and toothpicks. I will save you the trouble: they have been ordered already.

The number of deaths known to have been caused by wolves in North America in the twenty-first century is one: if averaged out, that would be 0.08 per year. The average number of people killed in the US by vending machines is 2.2 (people sometimes rock them to try to extract their drinks, with predictable results).

Cows kill some twenty people in the US, dogs thirty-one.

Over the past century, swallowing toothpicks caused the deaths of around 170 Americans a year. Though there are sixty thousand wolves in North America, the risk of being killed by one is almost nonexistent.”

“Environment’ is a term that creates no pictures in the mind, which is why I have begun to use ‘natural world’ or ‘living planet’ instead.”

“To be at peace with a troubled world: this is not a reasonable aim. It can be achieved only through a disavowal of what surrounds you. To be at peace with yourself within a troubled world: that, by contrast, is an honourable aspiration.”

How Did We Get into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature

George by George

George on himself: “I still see my life as a slightly unhinged adventure whose perpetuation is something of a mystery. I have no idea where it will take me, and no ambitions other than to keep doing what I do. So far it’s been gripping.”

George Monbiot Quotes: Learn More

If you enjoyed these ideas then try these quotes from Henry David Thoreau.