George Monbiot’s “elegant and urgent writing” saw the author, environmentalist and Guardian columnist win the prestigious Orwell Prize for journalism.
The prize rewards the commentary or report that comes closest to the ambition of George Orwell, novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, to “make political writing an art”.
Monbiot won the award for his nearly four-decade fight to raise the profile of a wide range of neglected environmental issues, most recently leading calls to regenerate our desert-ridden, sheep-scraped landscape.
“In the finest tradition of George Orwell journalism, George Monbiot draws from a vast store of knowledge to write with wit, elegance, forensic insight and sustained, justified anger in the face of the most important and overlooked crisis in that humanity is facing,” Isabel said. Hilton, one of the award judges.
“His targets range from organized crime to criminal political indifference, and he leaves us in no doubt what we need to do to survive,” added Hilton, also a journalist and founder of China Dialogue.
In his latest book, Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Eating the Planet, Monbiot explains why agriculture is, in his words, “the most destructive human activity that has ever destroyed the Earth” and what we can do about it. ‘Stop.
Jean Seaton, director of the Orwell Foundation and professor of media history at the University of Westminster, said: “Orwell took pleasure in flowers, consoled himself with the gazing of toads and observed the environment in all his work. George Monbiot has a life of elegant and urgent writing about the greatest threat we face – Orwell would, I think, approve of him winning the Orwell Prize.
Monbiot has written a number of bestselling books, including Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life, Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning, and Out of the Wreckage: a New Politics for an Age of Crisis.
He has also made a number of viral videos. One, adapted from his 2013 TED talk, How Wolves Change Rivers, has been viewed on YouTube over 40 million times. Another, on Natural Climate Solutions, which he co-hosted with Greta Thunberg, has been watched more than 50 million times.
Monbiot also co-wrote the concept album Breaking the Spell of Loneliness with musician Ewan McLennan.
Judges for this year’s Orwell Prize for Journalism also included Helen Hawkins, former culture editor at The Times, Marcus Ryder, head of external consultants at the Sir Lenny Henry Center for Media Diversity and chairman of Rada, and Sameer Padania, author and freelance consultant in journalism.