Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays

Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays

Paul Kingsnorth / Apr 03, 2020

Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays Paul Kingsnorth was once an activist an ardent environmentalist He fought against rampant development and the depredations of a corporate world that seemed hell bent on ignoring a looming climate cri

  • Title: Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays
  • Author: Paul Kingsnorth
  • ISBN: 9781555977801
  • Page: 152
  • Format: Paperback
  • Paul Kingsnorth was once an activist, an ardent environmentalist He fought against rampant development and the depredations of a corporate world that seemed hell bent on ignoring a looming climate crisis in its relentless pursuit of profit But as the environmental movement began to focus on sustainability rather than the defence of wild places for their own sake and asPaul Kingsnorth was once an activist, an ardent environmentalist He fought against rampant development and the depredations of a corporate world that seemed hell bent on ignoring a looming climate crisis in its relentless pursuit of profit But as the environmental movement began to focus on sustainability rather than the defence of wild places for their own sake and as global conditions worsened, he grew disenchanted with the movement that he once embraced He gave up what he saw as the false hope that residents of the First World would ever make the kind of sacrifices that might avert the severe consequences of climate change.Full of grief and fury as well as passionate, lyrical evocations of nature and the wild, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist gathers the wave making essays that have charted the change in Kingsnorth s thinking In them he articulates a new vision that he calls dark ecology, which stands firmly in opposition to the belief that technology can save us, and he argues for a renewed balance between the human and nonhuman worlds.Provocative and urgent, iconoclastic and fearless, this ultimately hopeful book poses hard questions about how we have lived and should live.

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    About "Paul Kingsnorth"

      • Paul Kingsnorth

        Paul Kingsnorth is an English writer and thinker He is a former deputy editor of The Ecologist and a co founder of the Dark Mountain Project He lives in the west of Ireland.He studied modern history at Oxford University, where he was also heavily involved in the road protest movement of the early 1990s.After graduating, Paul spent two months in Indonesia working on conservation projects in Borneo and Java Back in the UK, he worked for a year on the staff of the Independent newspaper Following a three year stint as a campaign writer for an environmental NGO, he was appointed deputy editor of The Ecologist, where he worked for two years under the editorship of Zac Goldsmith.He left the Ecologist in 2001 to write his first book One No, Many Yeses, a political travelogue which explored the growing anti capitalist movement around the world The book was published in 2003 by Simon and Schuster, in six languages across 13 countries.In the early 2000s, having spent time with the tribal people of West Papua, who continue to be brutally colonised by the Indonesian government and military, Paul was instrumental in setting up the Free West Papua Campaign, which he also helped to run for a time.Paul s second book, Real England, was published in 2008 by Portobello An exploration of the changing face of his home country in an age of globalisation, the book was quoted in speeches by the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury, helped inspire the success of the hit West End play Jerusalem and saw its author compared to Cobbett and Orwell by than one newspaper.In 2009, Paul launched, with Dougald Hine, the Dark Mountain Project a call for a literary movement to respond to the ongoing collapse of the world s ecological and economic certainties What began as a self published pamphlet has become a global network of writers, artists and thinkers Paul is now the Project s director and one of its editors.In 2011, Paul s first collection of poetry, Kidland, was published by Salmon Since the mid 1990s, Paul s poetry has been published in magazines including Envoi, Iota, Poetry Life and nthposition He has been awarded the BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year Award and the Poetry Life Prize, and was narrowly pipped to the post in the Thomas Hardy Society s annual competition.Paul s journalism has appeared in the Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, Le Monde, New Statesman, Ecologist, New Internationalist, Big Issue, Adbusters, BBC Wildlife and openDemocracy, for which he has also worked as a commissioning editor He has appeared on various TV and radio programmes, most shamefully This Morning with Richard and Judy He is also the author of Your Countryside, Your Choice , a report on the future of the countryside, published in 2005 by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.


    1. Saudade (from the Portuguese): The feeling of intense longing for a person or place you love but is now lost. A Haunting desire for what is gone.5 ★Paul Kingsnorth was born in the same year I was first learning the word ecology and has a long history of writing and working on behalf of the environment. He no longer believes that humanity can stop what has been unleashed and writes essays in an attempt to work out what he thinks of it all, what to do next, and maintain his sanity while doing it [...]

    2. Occasionally I read a book so thought-provoking that it makes me want to write a book. Never has this feeling been stronger than when I was reading Paul Kingsnorth’s ‘Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist’. Just about every essay in the book inspired a potentially essay-length series of responses. In the interests of space, I won’t even attempt to cram them all into this review. Instead, it’s worth considering why I found the book so compelling. Kingsnorth’s writing style is e [...]

    3. The author wouldn't approve of the way I’ve been reading this: online, mostly on a smartphone, and without paying. (Most of the essays are legitimately online - I haven't pirated it.) The first couple of times I tried to read Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, I had the same problem I often have with essay collections: it made me want to write another one in response, and the note-taking was exhausting. This time I started it in the same frame of mind in which I sometimes read lots [...]

    4. I couldn't find much of the promised "ultimately hopeful"but there was heaping portions no- punches- pulled honesty. If we've already passed the point of no return for climate change, unrestrained commercialism/capitalism and looking into the maw of the Earth's sixth extinction, what's a reasonable person to do? Very thought provoking and I look forward to discussion in my book club.

    5. Paul Kingsnorth was a passionate environmentalist, taking the time to be involved in activities and protests against the creep of corporate and governmental interests that threatened the climate and places with ill thought out developments. His view started to change as the business world embraced green ideals, and those opposing them watered down their vociferous defence of our wild places and cosied up to sustainability instead. He saw it as a betrayal of the movement as they chose to ignore t [...]

    6. Really important work. The essays are a little uneven, but they chronicle a fairly long span of development in the author's style and thinking. Ultimately, though, the message is a crucial one: being anti-capitalist isn't even radical enough when it comes to navigating and/or ameliorating the runaway climate crisis. We also have to somehow shed the myth (which, as he puts it, is all the more dangerous for not being regarded as a myth--by leftists either; I can confirm this having run with enough [...]

    7. Don't let this be the first book on environmentalism you read, or even one of the first. Read the others first, read all one books on technology too, sign some petitions, buy eggs from a neighbour, grow vegetables, and then when you despair read this. It's not that it's hopeful, it's just honest.

    8. Kingsnorth's essays offer a "hope beyond hope" in this time of ecological collapse and techno-utopianism. He pits poets against the quants, scythes against Industrial machines, and offers a glimpse into a way of living on this dying earth that is both honest and beautiful. He chooses untouched shorelines over windmills and meadows over solar panels in a love for the given world that he would not sell out to a "carbon neutral" continuation of the ugliness of Industrial civilization. For anyone wh [...]

    9. This is a book which squarely faces what we are actually doing ie ecocide . I have, in the past, been frustrated with books that describe climate change but then try and finish on a note of optimism. Lets face it, we are already beyond the point where we can stop massive changes. Climate change in Australia has been so politicised that our government has been bought by the coal lobby. They are good at pretending to do something but in reality they are maintaining the status quo. For example they [...]

    10. This is a collection of essays, mostly also published over the last 10 years in magazines and newspapers, in which Paul Kingsnorth critiques assumptions at the heart of 21st century environmentalism ( it still treats the planet as a commodity, with "resources" to be exploited, it assumes "progress" or more technology will solve many of our problems, it thinks of humans as separate from nature). Although it's tempting to say he has given up on environmentalism, and the title of this book encourag [...]

    11. Without a shadow of doubt, one of the most important and timely books I have ever read. Kingsnorth has a clarity of thinking, and a readiness to question his own deeply held views which cuts right through here. His backstory matters, this is someone who has done the hard yards, and has come to understand the scale of the challenges we face and our lack of ability to do anything about them. That the current environmental movement is no longer fit for purpose is a crystal clear conclusion which he [...]

    12. I don't entirely share Kingsnorth's worldview, but I do think he's right that our talk about "sustainability" is often misguided in the sense that it still assumes that the Earth and all its creatures/forces only exist to support humans, and have no inherent value in themselves. His radicalism is bracing.

    13. 4.5 stars. Kingsnorth articulates so much of what I have been thinking and feeling over the past years. I applaud him for the clarity of his vision and his willingness to carry on in spite of everything.

    14. This book was like an arrow right into my heart, in that it expresses everything that I've known but couldn't or didn't know how to admit.

    15. I probably agree with Paul Kingsnorth more than 99% of other writers. Despite the anti-environmental sounding title, he actually is still very environmentally minded. He's one of the few writers willing to explicitly label economic growth, dependence on (and addiction to) high-tech gadgets and even civilization itself as problems. For that alone I can't give this a bad review. However, I can't give this a good review either. Some of his views are just so defeatist that it makes the book kind of [...]

    16. Have you ever thought when listening to earnest discussions around environment, sustainability, and climate change that something felt fantastical? Far from being able to "solve" climate change, have you ever worried that we have gone past the point of no return? If so, then "Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist" by Paul Kingsnorth will give voice to your forebodings. These fifteen essays challenge fundamental pillars of our globalized society: the inevitability of progress, the power an [...]

    17. I was pointed to the Dark Mountain Project a few years ago by a participant, but I didn't see much there for me. I think this book, however, has created the context through which I now can better understand it: "Too many green quants, then, and not enough green poets" (p.49).Overall, I think Kingsnorth's worldview is important, and he certainly shares a convincing critique of what currently passes for 'environmentalism': as "the catalytic converter on the silver SUV of the global economy" (p.78 [...]

    18. I love reading books about nature, and I feel inspired by them to spend time with nature. This isn't one of those books, this is a book that tells us that the stories we tell ourselves about nature, about humanity, about progress and civilisation, are delusions behind which we hide because it is too painful to acknowledge how serious is the destruction we are wreaking on the earth. Paul Kingsnorth cut his environmental teeth on the road protests of the early '90s but has become disillusioned wit [...]

    19. This collection of Paul Kingsnorth's essays, mainly from the last five years or so, are beautifully written and easy, if painful, to read. Kingsnorth has abandoned environmentalism since it's co-option by consumerism - nowadays, environmentalism seems mainly to be a matter of "sustainability": finding ways to continue living as we do already, but in an "environmentally friendly" way. Kingsnorth believes (and I agree) that this is a delusion: there is no "sustainable" way of continuing life as at [...]

    20. The epilogue's thesis that what can save us is a new movement of "uncivilized" artists seems incomplete-- almost like a variation on the ineffectual picketing and protesting the author describes in his early career. The essays I found most intriguing were about the modest, admittedly flawed and futile projects Kingsnorth has adopted to live a lifestyle more consistent with his ethics (i.e. humanure, orchard planting, etc.) Like John Michael Greer's work, this alludes to and lauds an Appropriate [...]

    21. Sometimes you should buy a book rather than borrow it from the library. This is one of those times. Paul Kingsnorth is finding another way to write about the crisis we're in: it's not just the environmental crisis "out there"; it's an internal crisis of consciousness, storytelling, and art. We humans think we can escape our place, whether our neighborhood or the earth, and we imagine ourselves superior to our place, but we are immersed and enmeshed. How we treat the earth is how we treat ourselv [...]

    22. Very worrying but enlightening read. Kingsnorth, like many of us, has become very leery of environmentalism, sustainability and conservation in a world that is still in a rush to grow bigger more, build more, develop more technology nature dies all around us. His remedy is to withdraw to his own piece of land, grow his own food and accept that he cannot stop the collapse that is coming. He is not in denial, he says, but he just doesn't think this coming collapse can be stopped.

    23. Really a very brilliant and chilling book. An extensive critical piece needs to be written comparing Kingsnorth's final essay - the manifesto-ish "Uncivilization" (from 2009) - with Joyelle McSweeney's similarly themed "Neceopastoral" (2011). They have much in common as calls to creative making in a time of ecocide that unto themselves may be less urgently effective than if they were paired for a shared productive end.

    24. A collection of essays addressing the author's love of the natural world and his criticisms of the current environmental movement and its focus on sustainability. Thought-provoking and beautifully written, this book challenges the mindset of our civilization and forces the reader to critically examine his/her assumptions and beliefs. Important and passionate, this book should be required reading.

    25. Passionately felt, evocatively written. Kingsnorth falls short of pure manifesto in his earlier essays, admitting he's driven more by feelings he can't articulate rather than inescapable conclusions. He's also light on tactics and practice, but once you understand what he means by "uncivilisation" you'll get why that is.

    26. Extremely thought provoking collection of essays from someone who has become disheartened with 21st century environmentalism and has given up on saving the world.

    27. Fresh and bracing as a dip in an icy river. Not often does one encounter such an honest attempt to grapple with the world and the self. Magnificent.

    28. As a collection Kingsnorth's essays coalesce into something greater than the sum of parts and that's saying something. "Dark Ecology" and "In the Black Chamber" alone are life-changing writing.

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