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The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans Paperback – 7 Jul 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; 1st Thus edition (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000731342X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007313426
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 115,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘It certainly convinced me’ Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Mark Lynas is an activist, journalist and traveller. He was editor of the website and has made many appearances in the press and TV as a commentator on environmental issues. He is the author of High Tide and Six Degrees.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Richard Betts on 9 July 2011
Format: Paperback
The paperback edition of "The God Species" by Mark Lynas has been withdrawn from sale by Amazon just as it was launched, after somebody complained it was "not as described". The author suspects foul play - and having read it I can see that he might have made some enemies.

But importantly - and this is the reason why you should read the book - Lynas's argument is so groundbreaking that there are a number of different traditional "camps" within which someone may have been offended enough to try to stop the book in its tracks. Lynas has been seen by many as on the side of the Greens, as he speaks about the need to avoid catastrophic environmental change. Hence opponents of the Green movement may automatically be opponents of Lynas. But in "The God Species", Lynas has taken the bold and innovative step of making strong argument in favour of using our technology to make us more responsible as stewards of the Earth, which he views us as now ruling with the power of Gods.

Perhaps most controversially, Lynas argues that nuclear power and genetic engineering do have a place in avoiding dangerous climate change and protecting food security - clearly views which risk alienating many traditional Greens. But the point is that Lynas has backed up his case with extensive and well-referenced evidence, so this is not an idealogical book - yes it still is his opinion, but it is a well-informed opinion which can be challenged point by point by counter-evidence if you so wish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F Henwood TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is no doubt that humans are placing great stresses on a host of planetary boundaries. Were they all to be breached, then at industrial civilisation is finished, and so perhaps all life on Earth (although of course nature could get along without us). The book describes with great clarity how near humanity is to crossing various natural thresholds, not just in pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere but also lesser-known threats such as ocean acidification. Make no mistake, this is hair-raising stuff.

Not many greens are going to dissent from his analysis of the problem. But many will hate his proposed solutions - nuclear power, GM crops, for example, and his repudiation of conventional green nostrums such as advocating austerity, cutting living standards etc. So in this sense, he is by no means preaching to the converted. He shows how greens' conventional rejection of solutions like nuclear power and GM crops threatens to make the problems worse. There is no doubt for example that the fact that so many nuclear power stations have not been built has been to the wider detriment of the environment because we have simply burned more coal in lieu of nuclear, with all the deleterious consequences that entails for the planet's environment.

It is a message that I enjoyed reading. So, from my perspective, this book can be commended for the following reasons.
First of all, it deals with realistic solutions that work with the grain of human nature and not against it, and hence have a greater hope of success than the eco-purists proposed solutions (cutting living standards, abandoning air travel etc.). The sorts of solutions advocated by people who call themselves deep ecologists and such like have no broader appeal, hence no chance of success.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By G.E.Lucas on 27 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really important contribution to debates about human activity and its interaction with the environment.

Its importance lies in the clear discussion about 'planetary boundary systems' and not just climate change: those nine interconnected and crucial 'whole earth' systems that sustain human life. These systems can be characterised as having some room for more human intervention before the system starts breaking down, being more or less in equilibrium with human activity, or being beyond equilibrium now. He presnets convincing data and shows each system's rate of change given current trends.

Not being a planetary system scientist, there was a lot of new information for me here, some of it surprising. I would have liked a few graphs and the content is crying out for good diagrams and graphics.

The ideas are of a piece with other 'revisionist' thinking, for example Stewart Brand (on the benefits of cities) and to some extent George Monbiot (on the benefits of nuclear power, despite Fukashima). I like Lynas's fracture of 'being green' equals anti-capitalist/anti-science/anti-corporate.

Probably the biggest challenge for politically active 'greens' is the idea that, given the right incentives, 'the market' i.e current corporate capitalism and governments, can really help shape these boundaries for the better. Growth might be ok, as long as its impact can be sustained by each system, is his basic point.

However, he appears to downplay the appalling history of rampant corporate and regulatory mismanagement of the very systems he wants 'us' to deal with.
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