Mark Lynas

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Mark Lynas
Mark Lynas, 2012
Mark Lynas, 2012
OccupationJournalist, author, environmentalist

Mark Lynas (born 1973) is a British author and journalist whose work is focused on environmentalism and climate change. He is a contributor to New Statesman, The Ecologist, Granta and Geographical magazines, and The Guardian and The Observer newspapers in the UK; he also worked on the film The Age of Stupid. He was born in Fiji, grew up in Peru and the United Kingdom and holds a degree in history and politics from the University of Edinburgh.[1] He has published several books including Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (2007) and The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans (2011). He has stated "I think there is a 50–50 chance we can avoid a devastating rise in global temperature."[1] Lynas is a communications strategist and climate lead for the Alliance for Science at Cornell University as well as a fellow of the German skeptics organization, GWUP.[2][3]

Main work and publications[edit]

In 2004, Lynas' High Tide: The Truth About Our Climate Crisis was published by Macmillan Publishers on its Picador imprint.[4] He has also contributed to a book entitled Fragile Earth: Views of a Changing World published by Collins,[5] which presents before-and-after images of some of the natural changes which have happened to the world in recent years, including the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, alongside a bleak look at the effects of mankind's actions on the planet.

In January 2007, Lynas published Gem Carbon Counter,[6] containing instructions to calculate people's personal carbon emissions and recommendations about how to reduce their impact on the atmosphere.

In 2007, he published Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, a book detailing the progressive effect of global warming in several planetary ecosystems, from 1 degree to 6 degrees and further of average temperature rise of the planet. Special coverage is given to the positive feedback mechanisms that could dramatically accelerate the climate change, possibly putting the climate on a runaway path. As a possible end scenario the release of methane hydrate from the bottom of the oceans could replicate the end-Permian extinction event. This book won the Royal Society's science book of the year award in 2008.[7]

In 2008, National Geographic released a documentary film based on Lynas's book, entitled Six Degrees Could Change the World.[8]

In 2010, Lynas published an article in the New Statesman entitled "Why We Greens Keep Getting It Wrong"[9] and the same year was the main contributor to a UK Channel 4 Television programme called "What the Green Movement Got Wrong."[10] In these he explained that he now felt that several of his previous strongly held beliefs were wrong. For example, he suggested that opposition by environmentalists, such as himself, to the development of nuclear energy had speeded up climate change, and that GM crops were necessary to feed the world.

This latter position was attacked as patronising and naive by some developing world commentators, including one featured in a Channel Four debate after the programme aired. A number of experts also criticised Lynas's factual errors in contributing to the film. British environmentalist George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian that '[Stewart] Brand and Lynas present themselves as heretics. But their convenient fictions chime with the thinking of the new establishment: corporations, thinktanks, neoliberal politicians. The true heretics are those who remind us that neither social nor environmental progress are possible unless power is confronted.[11] Since writing this, George Monbiot is no longer opposed to nuclear power as an alternative to more polluting sources such as coal.[12]

In July 2011, Lynas published in the U.K. the book entitled The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans. It was also published in the U.S. by National Geographic in October 2011 as The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans (ISBN 978-1426208911). Lynas argues that as Earth has entered the Anthropocene, and as such humanity is changing the planet's climate, its bio-geochemical cycles, the chemistry of the oceans and the colour of the sky, as well as reducing the number of species. Based on the planetary boundaries concept, he proposes several strategies that are controversial among the environmental community, such as using nuclear power and the Integral fast reactor to reduce carbon emissions and geoengineering to mitigate inevitable global warming; or genetic engineering (transgenics) to feed the world and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.[13] In 2012, Mark Lynas was bestowed the Paradigm Award by the Breakthrough Institute in recognition of his intellectual leadership on the Anthropocene.

"In defence of nuclear power"[edit]

In January 2012, Lynas published an article titled In defence of nuclear power,[14] in which he states that "nuclear provides the vast majority of the UK's current low-carbon electricity – as much as 70%, whilst avoiding the emission of 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This is why I want to see more nuclear power in the UK and elsewhere, in order to avoid more carbon emissions". In September 2012, Lynas wrote a follow-up article in the Guardian entitled "Without nuclear, the battle against global warming is as good as lost."[15]

In 2013, Lynas published Nuclear 2.0: Why A Green Future Needs Nuclear Power. Lynas is featured in the 2013 pro-nuclear documentary film Pandora's Promise. Generation IV reactor research programs are developing the type of nuclear power described in Pandora's Promise.

Conversion to support GMOs[edit]

In a January 2013 lecture to the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas detailed his conversion from an organizer of the anti-GMO food movement in Europe to becoming a supporter of the technology.[16] He admitted "... in 2008, I was still penning screeds in the Guardian attacking the science of GM – even though I had done no academic research on the topic, and had a pretty limited personal understanding. I don't think I'd ever read a peer-reviewed paper on biotechnology or plant science..." He apologized for engaging in vandalism of field trials of genetically engineered crops, stating that "anti-science environmentalism became increasingly inconsistent with my pro-science environmentalism with regard to climate change." Lynas criticized organizations with which he was previously associated, including Greenpeace and organic trade groups like the U.K. Soil Association, for ignoring scientific facts about genetically modified crop safety and benefits because it conflicted with their ideologies and stated he "was completely wrong to oppose GMOs."[17][18]

An Ecomodernist Manifesto[edit]

In April 2015, Lynas joined with a group of scholars in issuing An Ecomodernist Manifesto.[19][20] The other authors were: John Asafu-Adjaye, Linus Blomqvist, Stewart Brand, Barry Brook. Ruth DeFries, Erle Ellis, Christopher Foreman, David Keith, Martin Lewis, Ted Nordhaus, Roger A. Pielke, Jr., Rachel Pritzker, Joyashree Roy, Mark Sagoff, Michael Shellenberger, Robert Stone, and Peter Teague[21]


In 2017, Lynas appeared at the 17th European Skeptics Congress (ESC) in Old Town Wrocław, Poland. This congress was organised by the Klub Sceptyków Polskich (Polish Skeptics Club) and Český klub skeptiků Sisyfos (Czech Skeptic's Club). Lynas was a speaker there, along with Marcin Rotkiewicz and Tomáš Moravec, on the topic of genetically modified organisms.[22]



Essays and reporting[edit]


  1. ^ a b Staff Mark Lynas. Broadcast Commentator, Journalist, and Author National Geographic, Explorers Bios, Retrieved 5 January 2013
  2. ^ "Our Team". Alliance for Science. Cornell University. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  3. ^ Sarma, Amardeo (September–October 2020). "Six Degrees Author Mark Lynas on Our Warming World". Skeptical Inquirer. Amherst, NY: Center for Inquiry. Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  4. ^ Lynas, Mark (June 2004). High Tide: The Truth About Our Climate Crisis. ISBN 0312303653.
  5. ^ ISBN 0007233140
  6. ^ Collins, ISBN 978-0007248124
  7. ^ Irvine, Lindesay (17 June 2008) Lynas's Six Degrees wins Royal Society award The Guardian, Retrieved 19 January 2012
  8. ^ "Six Degrees Could Change the World: National Geographic Channel". Archived from the original on 24 March 2008. Retrieved 27 March 2008.
  9. ^ Lynas, Mark (28 January 2010). "Why We Greens Keep Getting It Wrong". New Statesman. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  10. ^ Lynas, Mark (4 November 2010). "What the Green Movement Got Wrong: A turncoat explains". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 November 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  11. ^ George Monbiot (5 November 2010). "Deep Peace in Techno-Utopia". Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  12. ^ Monbiot, George (21 March 2011). "Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  13. ^ "Earthly powers – How we can save ourselves". The Economist. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 16 July print edition pp. 86,
  14. ^ "In defence of nuclear power – Mark Lynas". Archived from the original on 11 November 2020.[dead link]
  15. ^ Lynas, Mark (14 September 2012). "Without nuclear, the battle against global warming is as good as lost". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  16. ^ Mark Lynas (3 January 2013). "Lecture to Oxford Farming Conference". Archived from the original on 28 September 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  17. ^ Torie Bosch (3 January 2013). "Leading Environmental Activist's Blunt Confession: I Was Completely Wrong To Oppose GMOs". Slate Magazine.
  18. ^ Mark Lynas from Oxford Farming Conference on Vimeo.
  19. ^ "An Ecomodernist Manifesto". Retrieved 17 April 2015. A good Anthropocene demands that humans use their growing social, economic, and technological powers to make life better for people, stabilize the climate, and protect the natural world.
  20. ^ Eduardo Porter (14 April 2015). "A Call to Look Past Sustainable Development". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 April 2015. On Tuesday, a group of scholars involved in the environmental debate, including Professor Roy and Professor Brook, Ruth DeFries of Columbia University, and Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, Calif., issued what they are calling the "Eco-modernist Manifesto."
  21. ^ "Authors An Ecomodernist Manifesto". Retrieved 17 April 2015. As scholars, scientists, campaigners, and citizens, we write with the conviction that knowledge and technology, applied with wisdom, might allow for a good, or even great, Anthropocene.
  22. ^ Gerbic, Susan (9 February 2018). "Skeptical Adventures in Europe, Part 2". Committee for skeptical inquiry. Retrieved 29 April 2018.

External links[edit]