Last Tuesday I attended George Monbiot’s delivery of the Speri annual lecture, an event hosted by the University of Sheffield. Monbiot was on form, and proceeded to deliver a damning polemic against the tendency of well-meaning environmentalists to commodify the natural world in an attempt to preserve it. It was an entertaining speech, containing jokes about ‘Crystal Methodist’ Paul Flowers, whose sins are no greater that your average banking chieftain: at least Paul bought his own drugs. In any case, the talk can be listened-to below: judge for yourself.
The talk was a serious critique of the impact of free market values on the our perception and treatment of the natural world. What I’d not thought of before that Monbiot described in great detail was how putting a value on nature we are reinforcing the neoliberal worldview which is largely responsible for the degradation of the environment in the first place. It’s like asking a wolf to take care of your sheep.
There are so many arguments in there that it’s hard to summarise in a short article. Suffice to say the audience seemed enthralled by it and my friends and I left the building feeling inspired. Well worth attending.
To find out more about Monbiot’s work, there is no better place to start that his own website which contains full transcripts of his articles for the Guardian and other outlets, as well as detailed reference lists.