Rupert Read

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Rupert Read
Rupert Read campaigning in Cambridge during the general election of 2015.
Norwich City Councillor for Wensum Ward
In office
10 June 2004 – 5 May 2011
Preceded by(new seat)
Succeeded byLucy Galvin
Personal details
Born1966 (age 57–58)
Political partyGreen Party of England and Wales
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford

Rupert Read (born 1966) is an academic and a Green Party campaigner, a former spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, and the current director of the Climate Majority Project.[1] He is the author of several books on Wittgenstein, philosophy, and/or climate change, most recently Why Climate Breakdown Matters, Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos, and Do You Want to Know the Truth?[2] Until 2023, Read was a reader in philosophy at the University of East Anglia[3] where he was awarded – as Principal Investigator – Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding for two projects on "natural capital".[4][5] His other major recent academic focus has been on the precautionary principle, having contributed substantially to work co-authored with Nassim Nicholas Taleb on applying the principle to questions of genetic modification of organisms.[6] In further work, Read has theorised the utility of the precautionary principle in a wide range of areas, including: climate change, the environment, as well as financial and technology sectors.[7]

Read's application of the precautionary principle in climate and environmental affairs underlies many of his talks and presentations, notably including "Shed a Light – This civilisation is finished: so what is to be done?" which was given at Churchill College, Cambridge and has gained success on YouTube with over 200,000 views.[8]

In June 2018, Read triggered a BBC policy shift by publicly refusing to debate with a climate change denier.[9] This led to new policy that meant the BBC would no longer present climate change deniers' views as a counterbalance to scientific standpoints.[10][11][12]

In October 2018, Read declared his support for Extinction Rebellion.[13] Acting as Extinction Rebellion's spokesperson, he gave a number of interviews on national news programmes during the Rebellion's London protests in April 2019 (see below). Read was part of the five members of the group invited to meet with Environment Secretary Michael Gove to discuss their demands.[14] The following day the UK Parliament declared a "climate change emergency";[15] part of Extinction Rebellion's demands.[16]

Read commented regularly through the Eastern Daily Press "One World Column" for five years.[17] In his regular appearances in the local and national press, he speaks on sustainable transport, green economics, and social justice. He was formerly chair of the Green House thinktank, a former Green Party spokesperson for transport[18] and former East of England party co-ordinator.

Read left UEA in the Summer of 2023, citing his dissatisfaction with current academia's failure to adequately confront the climate crisis, as well as its tendency to over-appreciate the sciences and under-appreciate the arts and humanities, coupled with the opportunity for Read to spend his time building the Climate Majority Project which he believes is a more vital use of his time.[19]

Academic career[edit]

Rupert Read
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern Philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of literature, Philosophy and film, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophy of science

Read studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Balliol College, Oxford,[3] before undertaking postgraduate studies in the United States at Princeton University and Rutgers University (where he gained his doctorate). Influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy, his PhD involved "a Wittgensteinian exploration of the relationship between Kripke's 'quus' problem and Nelson Goodman's 'grue' problem."[3]

He is a reader at the University of East Anglia, specialising in philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and environmental philosophy, previously having taught at Manchester.[3] He has authored many books, including: Kuhn (2002), Applying Wittgenstein (2007), Philosophy for Life (2007), There is No Such Thing as a Social Science (2008), Wittgenstein Among the Sciences (2012), A Wittgensteinian Way with Paradoxes (2012), and A Film-Philosophy of Ecology and Enlightenment (2018). He has two chapters titled "Making the Best of Climate Disasters" and "Geoengineering as a Response to the Climate Crisis" in the Green House think-tank book: Facing up to Climate Reality (2019). His book 'This Civilisation Is Finished, co-authored by Samuel Alexander was published on 1 June 2019.[20]

His editorial experience includes The New Hume Debate (co-edited, 2000), Film as Philosophy: Essays on Cinema after Wittgenstein and Cavell (2005), and the work for which he is perhaps best known, The New Wittgenstein (2000), which offers a major re-evaluation of Wittgenstein's thinking. He has also co-created other books including Debating Nature’s Value (2018).

Read was one of five contributors, including Nassim Nicholas Taleb, to a paper entitled "The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms)"; this paper has been downloaded approximately a quarter of a million times.[6]

Read has been awarded – as principal investigator – AHRC funding for two projects on "natural capital". The first in 2016 titled "Debating Nature's Value" has completed with a book being published of the same name (see above).[5] Read then lead on the follow-up project titled "Taking the debate on nature's value to the valuers".[4][21]

Political career[edit]

Caroline Lucas giving a keynote speech, with Rupert Read looking on, at the autumn conference of the Green Party of England and Wales, Hove, 2006

Green Party[edit]

Read was one of 13 Green Party councillors in Norwich, where he was first elected in 2004 to represent Wensum ward[22] and re-elected in 2007 with 49% of the vote.[23] He sat on the Joint Highways Committee of the city and county councils,[24] and was spokesperson on Transport for the Green Party city councillors.[25] Read stepped down from local politics in 2011 and Wensum was retained by the Green Party.[26]

Having held a number of officer posts for the Eastern Region Green Party, at the beginning of 2007 Read was selected as Eastern Region Green Party's lead candidate for the European Parliament elections in 2009 and again in 2014.[27] The East of England is one of the Green Party's stronger regions in terms of support, and under the proportional representation system on which the European elections operate, the party was optimistic that he would represent them in the European Parliament. However, he was beaten to the last of the seven seats in the constituency by the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in 2009, and similarly in 2014. For the 2019 European Elections, Read stood as the second ranked candidate on the Eastern Region list for the Green Party.[28] He stood in the 2009 Norwich North by-election, as the Green Party candidate, and returned the biggest by-election vote share in Green history with 9.7% of the vote.

Read stood as MP candidate for Cambridge in the 2015 general election.[29] He came fourth, having received 8% of the vote.[30]

Read has also given many talks to Green Party organisations including the Ealing Green Party in March 2019.[31]

In April 2019, Read became the second candidate on the Green Party list for the Eastern Region[32] in the 2019 EU Elections and spent time in May campaigning with Caroline Lucas across the region.[33][34] After the election, he became special adviser to Catherine Rowett during her time as an MEP: the first candidate on the Green Party list for the Eastern Region, who was elected an MEP.

School strike for climate[edit]

Read was one of 224 academics to sign an open letter of support for the School strike for climate – a movement where children walked out of schools to protest at and demand action on climate change.[35] In February 2019, Read joined school strikers at the Forum Library in Norwich[36] and subsequently gained media coverage for his own personal open letter to schools in Norwich urging them to be supportive of action from students.[37]

Extinction Rebellion[edit]

In October 2018 Read declared himself a supporter of Extinction Rebellion,[13] an environmental direct action group, becoming a signatory of their first[38] and second[39] open letters to The Guardian and taking part in at least one of their November actions in London.[40] A month later, Read took part in a sit-in to disrupt the consultation stage of a link between two major motorways across ecologically significant Wensum Valley in Norfolk.[41]

In 2019, Read spoke to the Bath wing of Extinction Rebellion in a talk entitled "Your money or your life" which focused on biodiversity, pollution, and climate change before exploring practical options around responding to the climate and ecological 'emergencies'.[42]

Read played a major role in the April 2019 Extinction Rebellion in London. In addition to joining and speaking to protesters across London, Read appeared on a number of news platforms as spokesman for Extinction Rebellion, putting forward their three demands not only to the New Scientist,[16] but also to John Nicolson on talkRadio[43] and Nick Ferrari on LBC;[44] as well as debating Extinction Rebellion's approach and fracking's impact on climate change during Jacob Rees-Mogg’s LBC show;[45] and explaining the Rebellion's approach to Doug Henwood’s KPFA radio show in the USA.[46]

On television, Read appeared on Channel 5's 5 News[47] in a performance described by Naomi Klein as "absolutely amazing",[48] and BBC Politics Live where he notably successfully put pressure on Labour MP Jenny Chapman and Conservative minister Nadhim Zahawi to agree, live on TV, to meet Extinction Rebellion, and additionally demanded that politicians stop spreading the myth – and misleading statistics – that the UK is a leader on climate change action.[49] More recently during the October 2019 Extinction Rebellion, Read appeared on BBC question time along with Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps MP, Lisa Nandy MP, businessman Theo Paphitis and journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer.[50]

Through the work of their protests, Extinction Rebellion were invited to talk to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.[51] Additionally, Read was personally involved in meeting Environment Secretary Michael Gove at DEFRA where he put forward Extinction Rebellion's demands and concerns directly to the government.[14][52]

A day later the UK Parliament became the first in the world to declare a "climate change emergency";[15] part of the first one of Extinction Rebellion's three demands.[16]

In 2020, Read orchestrated the leak of the JP Morgan report saying Earth is on unsustainable trajectory, in which the major fossil fuel financier warned its clients of the economic risks of man-made global warming.[53]

In July 2020, Read published a collection of essays entitled Extinction Rebellion: Insights from the Inside about his experiences of being involved in Extinction Rebellion from its inception in 2018 up until the Covid pandemic. This piece was edited by, and contains a postscript from, Samuel Alexander.

Read is no longer a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, as he refuses to speak to any Murdoch-owned outlets "until climate change is front page news,"[54] and he felt that this stance would weaken his ability to be an efficient spokesperson for the activist organisation going forward.

Climate Majority Project[edit]

Read is now the co-director of the Climate Majority Project (previously known as the Moderate Flank) which aims to bring "funding and expertise to initiatives working to bring serious climate action into the mainstream."[55] The Climate Majority Project endorses a moderate form of climate activism to encourage mass support from a variety of places, arguing that whilst Extinction Rebellion has been extremely successful in elevating climate change as a political and social issue, some of its tactics risk isolating people. On an issue as crucial as climate change, Read believes that all people must have an outlet to express their concerns and pressurise for political change, which requires the formation of a less radical wing of the climate movement.[56] Another central part of the moderate flank is to avoid stances on identity politics in an attempt to maximise participation from all sides of the political spectrum.[57] The Climate Majority Project is supported by veteran environmental campaigner Swampy, Conservative Lord John Randall, former Child's Laureate Michael Rosen, BBC Presenter Chris Packham, and former Chairman of the CCC Lord Deben. The Climate Majority Project is currently partnered with Community Climate Action, Lawyers for Net-Zero, MP Watch, Wild Card, and People Get Real. The Climate Majority Project was granted an initial core funding of £100,000 to grow this moderate flank of climate activism.

Since the Climate Majority Project's launch in June 2023, Read has appeared on ITV News,[58] Andrew Marr's show on LBC,[59] and Good Morning Britain (alongside Swampy)[60] to make the case for the Climate Majority Project. In Read's own words, "The Climate Majority Project is for anyone and everyone who is serious about taking action on this existential threat that now faces us, but doesn't want to glue themselves to anything."[58]

Political journalism[edit]

Read was a regular contributor to the One World Column in the EDP, focusing on international development, poverty, globalisation, peacemaking, human rights, international relations and the environment.[61] He has also had various articles appear in The Independent, The Guardian, and The Conversation.

Leave Our Kids Alone[edit]

Read is co-founder of the Leave our Kids Alone campaign, which seeks a ban on all advertising targeting children under 11.[62]

Guardians for future generations[edit]

Read has developed, on the basis of his research in political and environmental philosophy, a radical proposal for institutional reform, to provide a place in the UK's democratic system for a voice for future people.[63] The proposal was launched at Parliament on 10 January 2012.


  • (Co-authored with James L. Guetti) Meaningful Consequences, The Philosophical Forum, Volume XXX, Issue 4, December 1999, Pages 289–315.
  • (Edited with Alice Crary) The New Wittgenstein, London: Routledge, 2000.
  • (Co-authored with Wes Sharrock) Kuhn: Philosopher of Scientific Revolution, Oxford: Polity, (2002).
  • (Co-edited with Jerry Goodenough) Film as Philosophy: Essays in Cinema after Wittgenstein and Cavell (2005).
  • Philosophy for Life: Applying Philosophy in Politics and Culture (2007).
  • (Co-authored with Matthew A. Lavery) 'Beyond the Tractatus Wars: The New Wittgenstein Debate' (2011)
  • 'A Wittgensteinian Way with Paradoxes' (2012)
  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Rupert Read, Raphael Douady, Joseph Norman, Yaneer Bar-Yam. The Precautionary Principle (With Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms), (2014).
  • "The Tale Parfit Tells: Analytic Metaphysics of Personal Identity vs. Wittgensteinian Film and Literature," in Philosophy and Literature 39.1 (April 2015): 128–53.
  • 'A Film-Philosophy of Ecology and Environment' (2018)
  • (Co-authored with Samuel Alexander) 'This Civilisation Is Finished' (2019)
  • (Co-authored with Samuel Alexander) 'Extinction Rebellion: Insights From The Inside' (2020)
  • 'Wittgenstein's Liberatory Philosophy: Thinking Through His Philosophical Investigations' (2020)
  • 'Parents For A Future: how loving our children can prevent climate collapse' (2021)
  • (Co-edited with Ian Sinclair) 'A Timeline of the Plague Year: A Comprehensive Record of the UK Government's Response to the Coronavirus Crisis' (2021)
  • (Co-edited with Jem Bendell) 'Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos' (2021)
  • 'Why Climate Breakdown Matters' (2022)
  • 'Do You Want To Know The Truth' (2022)


  1. ^ "Climate Majority Project". Retrieved 26 October 2023.
  2. ^ "Rupert Read Books". RupertRead.
  3. ^ a b c d UEA Faculty page, Accessed 9 July 2009
  4. ^ a b "Taking the debate on nature's value to the valuers". UK Research and Innovation. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Rupert Read Principal Investigator on new 2 year Research Network on 'Debating Nature's Value'". Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b Nassim, Taleb; et al. (17 October 2014). "The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms)". arXiv:1410.5787 [q-fin.GN].
  7. ^ Read, Rupert; O'Riordan, Tim (3 September 2017). "The Precautionary Principle Under Fire" (PDF). Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development. 59 (5): 4–15. doi:10.1080/00139157.2017.1350005. ISSN 0013-9157. S2CID 158589782.
  8. ^ Churchill College, University of Cambridge (9 November 2018), Shed A Light: Rupert Read – This civilisation is finished: so what is to be done?, archived from the original on 12 December 2021, retrieved 22 May 2019
  9. ^ Read, Rupert (31 July 2018). "BBC Radio wanted to have me on today to debate a climate-denier in the context of the drought/heatwave. I said NO. I told them it was a disgrace that they still give climate-deniers airtime at a time like this. I won't be part of such charades any longer. Please RT if you agree". @GreenRupertRead. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  10. ^ Read, Rupert (2 August 2018). "I won't go on the BBC if it supplies climate change deniers as 'balance' | Rupert Read". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  11. ^ Carrington, Damian (7 September 2018). "BBC admits 'we get climate change coverage wrong too often'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Facing Criticism Over Past Climate Reporting, BBC Commits to Reining in 'False Balance'". Snopes. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  13. ^ a b Read, Rupert (15 October 2018). "After the IPCC report, #climatereality". Medium. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  14. ^ a b Defra (30 April 2019), Secretary Of State & Extinction Rebellion Meeting, archived from the original on 12 December 2021, retrieved 17 May 2019
  15. ^ a b "UK Parliament declares climate emergency". 1 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  16. ^ a b c "The science behind Extinction Rebellion's three climate change demands". New Scientist. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  17. ^ 'One World Column', Eastern Daily Press. Archived 5 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 21 November 2007)
  18. ^ "Green Party Spokespeople". GPofE&W.
  19. ^ Read, Rupert. "UEA humanities cuts reflect inability of academia to confront climate crisis". Time Higher Education. Retrieved 26 October 2023.
  20. ^ "This Civilisation is Finished: Conversations on the end of Empire - and what lies beyond". Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  21. ^ "List of AHRC Funding Awards". UK Research and Innovation. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  22. ^ "Local Elections Archive Project — Wensum Ward".
  23. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Green World - Caroline Lucas & Ruper Read". Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  25. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ "Local election results May 2011". Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  27. ^ Eastern Green Party website (Accessed 22 May 2009)
  28. ^ "2019 European elections: List of candidates for the East of England". BBC News. 28 April 2019.
  29. ^ Read announced as General Election candidate for Cambridge
  30. ^ "Election results for Cambridge Borough, 7 May 2015". 7 May 2015. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  31. ^ Ealing Green Party (11 March 2019), Talk by Rupert Read 'Your money or your life?', archived from the original on 12 December 2021, retrieved 17 May 2019
  32. ^ "News". Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  33. ^ Grimmer, Dan (13 May 2019). "European elections as much about climate change as about Brexit, says Green MP during Norwich visit". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  34. ^ "Green Party rallies in Cambridge ahead of the European elections". Varsity Online. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  35. ^ "School climate strike children's brave stand has our support | Letter". The Guardian. 13 February 2019. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  36. ^ Whymark, Bethany (13 March 2019). "Students to strike for second time over climate change". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  37. ^ Scott, Geraldine (6 March 2019). "Norwich schools urged by activists to let students skip class for climate protest". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  38. ^ Alison Green; et al. (26 October 2018). "Facts about our ecological crisis are incontrovertible. We must take action". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  39. ^ Vandana Shiva; et al. (9 December 2018). "Act now to prevent an environmental catastrophe". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  40. ^ Middleton, Lucy (24 November 2018). "Protesters dragged away after gluing themselves to Buckingham Palace gates". Metro. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  41. ^ Grimmer, Dan (4 December 2018). "WATCH: See what happened when climate campaigners staged a sit-in protest at NDR event in Norwich". Norwich Evening News. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  42. ^ Read, Rupert (28 March 2019), Our Rebellion Against Extinctions, archived from the original on 12 December 2021, retrieved 17 May 2019
  43. ^ Rupert Read (19 April 2019), Rupert Read defends Extinction Rebellion London protests on Talk Radio, retrieved 17 May 2019
  44. ^ Read, Rupert (19 April 2019), Rupert Read defends Extinction Rebellion London protests on Talk Radio, retrieved 17 May 2019
  45. ^ "Jacob Rees-Mogg Goes Head-To-Head With Extinction Rebellion Spokesperson". LBC. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  46. ^ "Radio archives". Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  47. ^ Read, Rupert (19 April 2019), Rupert Read's Ch5 interview discussing the Extinction Rebellion London Protests, archived from the original on 12 December 2021, retrieved 17 May 2019
  48. ^ Klein, Naomi (19 April 2019). "This is absolutely amazing". @NaomiAKlein. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  49. ^ ExtinctionRebellion (23 April 2019), Rupert Read, "Everyone knows our democracy is broken..." – Politics Live – Extinction Rebellion, archived from the original on 12 December 2021, retrieved 17 May 2019
  50. ^ "Should climate change activists be applauded or arrested? | Question Time - BBC". 11 October 2019. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  51. ^ "Sadiq Khan meets Extinction Rebellion protesters and promises to consider citizens' assembly on climate change". The Independent. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  52. ^ Grimmer, Dan (30 April 2019). "Former Norwich city councillor among Extinction Rebellion group 'disappointed' after Michael Gove meeting". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  53. ^ "JP Morgan economists warn climate crisis is threat to human race". 21 May 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  54. ^ "Writings from 2020 | Rupert Read".
  55. ^ Climate Majority Project website,
  56. ^ Read, Rupert and Joseph Eastoe, "The Need for a 'Moderate Flank' in Climate Activism", The Byline Times, 18 June 2021
  57. ^ Read, Rupert, "What Next On Climate: The need for a new moderate flank," Perspectiva, (2021) p.26
  58. ^ a b "We're calling on people to get involved in climate community action", Climate Majority Project YouTube, courtesy of David Whitley & Becky Jago, ITV News Anglia
  59. ^ "From XR to The Climate Majority Project, Why?", Rupert Read's YouTube, interview courtesy of LBC
  60. ^ "Rupert Read & Swampy on why they seek to mobilise the moderate majority", from the Climate Majority Project's YouTube, courtesy of ITV
  61. ^ "Are we a consumerist society – or a 'producerist' society?". 12 September 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  62. ^ "Leave our kids alone – the case for banning ads targeted at children | Liberal Conspiracy". Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  63. ^ "Rupert Read: Creating 'guardians' for future generations – News and Events – UEA". Retrieved 15 March 2017.

External links[edit]