It’s nearly 40 years since Francis Moore Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet was published, linking what we eat and what we do to the planet. As countries race to embrace net zero targets, the role of farming and farmers, and the way we manage the landscape more generally, is under scrutiny. Is a healthy diet for humans the same as a healthy diet for a zero-carbon future? Should we be paying farmers for ‘public goods’, such as soil restoration, wildlife conservation and carbon sequestration? How might that transform the landscapes of the future – in Britain, Europe and elsewhere? And what does that mean for the hundreds of millions of small farmers in countries like India – site of some impassioned protests in recent months?
Cassandra Coburn is author of Enough: How Your Food Choices will Save the Planet; Sarah Bridle's book is Food and Climate Without the Hot Air. Martin Wright, former editor of Green Futures, is an environment journalist and photographer.
Join us on a journey to reclaim real bread, from the ancient grains that humans have eaten for 10,000 years, to meeting the farmers who still hand-scythe their harvest in the Nile Delta, to understanding modern farming practices in the American prairies and talking with the millers of West Wales. As well as documenting the history of bread, Rob Penn set himself a challenge to become the family baker – to sow, harvest and thresh two ancient grains and then bake the slow fermented sour dough in his own wood-fired oven. The woodsman and cyclist Robert Penn's previous book was The Man who Made Things out of Trees. Andy Fryers is Hay Festival Sustainability Director.
The inconvenient truth is that we are causing the climate crisis with our carbon intensive lifestyles and fixing it will affect all of us. But it can be done.
The economist addresses the actions we all need to take: personal, local, national and global. Reducing our own carbon footprint is the first step. We, the ultimate polluters, must pay a carbon price that applies to everything and everywhere, from the flights we take to the food we eat and the land we farm. And we need to embrace sustainable economic growth without harming other aspects of the environment. We must find a solution, because everything is at stake.
Dieter Helm is Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Oxford, and Fellow in Economics at New College, Oxford. He is in conversation with Carys Roberts, Chief Executive of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
How do you like your water – frozen or salty? In Ice Rivers, glaciologist Jemma Wadham tells the story of frozen landscapes across the globe, explaining how they are melting at an accelerating rate. In The Brilliant Abyss, Helen Scales talks about our relationship with the deep sea, how we imagine, explore and exploit it. It is the last, vast wilderness on the planet, home to fantastic creatures but also a space exploited by humans for minerals and food.
Jemma Wadham is Professor of Glaciology at University of Bristol. Helen Scales is a marine biologist, diver, broadcaster and author. Andy Fryers is Hay Festival Sustainability Director.
To avoid global collapse, we need to re-think everything we do and take for granted, from growing and cooking food, to the economy and methods of governance. It demands a Renaissance, a re-birth, and it must be driven and led by us, because the governments, corporations and financiers dominating the world have lost touch with the moral and ecological realities of life. The good news is, millions of grassroots initiatives the world over are already moving in the right direction.
This Renaissance needs to have at its heart, people who have traditionally been on the margins of business and politics – women. From New Orleans to Bangladesh, women, especially poor women of colour, are suffering most from a crisis they have done nothing to cause. Yet where, in environmental policy, are the voices of elderly European women dying in heatwaves? Of African girls dropping out of school due to drought? Our highest-profile climate activists are women and girls; but, at the top table, it’s men deciding the Earth’s future.
We’re not all in it together – but we could be. Anne Karpf makes the case for visionary, global climate policies that are gender-inclusive and promote gender equality.
Anne Karpf, sociologist, journalist and author of How Women can Save the Planet and Colin Tudge, biologist, broadcaster and author of The Great Re-Think: A 21st Century Renaissance talk to journalist Rosie Boycott.
For hundreds of years, we have lived as if the Earth were infinite. We exploited new frontiers, exhausted their resources, then moved on. It's a pattern repeated in forestry, fisheries, mining and agriculture. Now we are transferring this destructive approach to technology, imagining there is an infinite capacity for renewable materials. Bioethanol and biodiesel can replace the transport fuels we use. Biokerosene can take the guilt out of flying. Heating oil and coal can be replaced with wood. But by doing this, food and fuel and industrial materials are in competition with each other. In reality, there is no substitute for consuming less and living within this planet's means. What are the ethical and economic shifts required to accept the finite nature of our world?
George Monbiot is an author, journalist and environmental activist. He is in conversation with the co-director of Green New Deal UK and Winner of the Global Citizen Prize UK’s Hero Award, 2020.
The New Yorker journalist and environmentalist, best known for the Pulitzer Prizewinning The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, meets biologists trying to preserve the world's rarest fish, engineers turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland, Australian researchers developing a 'super coral' that can survive on a hotter globe, and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth, changing the sky from blue to white. Inspiring and darkly comic, the book examines the challenges we face and the potential for solving them.
Alok Jha is the science and technology correspondent at The Economist and author of The Water Book.
The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), is the 26th time the UN countries have met to discuss climate change. Yes, there have been 25 previous conferences that have debated what to do and yet little progress has been made. We need firm, binding actions, not just words, so what should Britain, as host of the November conference in Glasgow, put on the agenda to ensure that actions with impact are agreed and delivered? UK Government Cabinet member Alok Sharma is President of COP26, Christiana Figueres is a founder of the Global Optimism group, was head of the UN climate change convention when the Paris agreement was achieved in 2015 and is co-author of The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimist's Guide to the Climate Crisis. Patricia Espinosa is the Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. They are in conversation with Peter Lacy, author of Waste to Wealth: The Circular Economy Advantage and The Circular Economy Handbook.
Jay Griffiths issues a passionate, poetic manifesto for urgent rebellion, as well as a paean to the beauty of the natural world, in Why Rebel? Rebel because our footprint on the Earth has never mattered more than now. Rebel because we need a politics of kindness, but the very opposite is on the rise. Rebel because nature is not a hobby, it is the life on which we depend. Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars, and they are lining up now to write rebellion across the skies. Jay is in conversation with the creator of the Transition Towns movement, Rob Hopkins, author of From What Is To What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want.
The anthropologist, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Into the Silence, discusses his new book on Colombia's complex past, present, and future, through the story of the great Río Magdalena. The river represents the political history of Colombia, home to the greatest ecological and geographical diversity on the planet. As he travels its length, he encounters people who have overcome years of conflict, informed by indigenous wisdom and an enduring spirit of place. Only in Colombia can a traveller wash ashore in a coastal desert, ascend narrow tracks through dense tropical forests and reach verdant Andean valleys rising to ice-clad summits. This wild and impossible geography finds fuses perfectly with the Colombian spirit: restive, potent, at times placid and calm, at others tortured and twisted. He talks to journalist Rosie Boycott.
Join the farmer/author/broadcaster on a tour of his Cotswold farm. Did you know that a shearer can shear 200 sheep in a day? Or that robots can milk cows? Animal lovers and budding farmers can learn where food comes from, peek inside a combine harvester, and discover incredible facts about farm animals.
As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout progresses, many of us are feeling cautiously optimistic about the future, tempered by an awareness of the social and economic devastation wrought by the pandemic. What could the new normal look like? Past mistakes, current initiatives and bold imaginative visions of the future are considered by the environmentalist, and diverse approaches explored, to learn how a reset could work for everyone – and other species – in the wider environment. Dr Siobhan Maderson is an ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University.
We hear a lot about reaching Net Zero on carbon emissions but what does that look like for the average person? Is reaching Net Zero by 2050 achievable and how will it change the way we live, work and play? How will we heat our houses, travel to work and feed ourselves in a Net Zero world? This is your chance to quiz two experts on the likely scenarios. Emily Shuckburgh is a climate scientist, mathematician and science communicator. She is Director of Cambridge Zero, the University of Cambridge’s climate change initiative. Owen Hewlett is Chief Technical Officer at The Gold Standard Foundation, responsible for key innovations in carbon markets, climate finance and corporate reporting. Andy Fryers is Hay Festival Sustainability Director.
One brings together a way of eating that is mindful of the planet with practical advice and detailing how every small change in planning, shopping and reducing waste makes a difference. With dozens of inventive and varied ideas for super-quick vegetarian and vegan irresistible dishes, you can travel the world guilt-free in these pages. Try Persian noodle soup, Korean carrot and sesame pancakes, African peanut stew, baked dahl with tamarind-glazed sweet potato, followed by halloumi, mint, lemon and caramelised onion pie. Anna also helps you to reduce waste, use leftovers and go plastic-free. She talks to Stanley Tucci, writer, producer and author of The Tucci Cookbook.
Emma Gregg shows you how to get a no-fly holiday off the ground in The Flightless Traveller with 50 life-affirming trip ideas for those who would like to fly less, or not at all. City breaks and coastal retreats, bike rides and sailing voyages, vintage railways jaunts and intercontinental journeys are all within reach. Best of all, they make the journey an essential part of the adventure.
In Outlandish, Nick Hunt takes us across landscapes that should not logically be there, wildernesses in Europe that belong to far-flung places: a patch of Arctic tundra in Scotland, the continent’s largest surviving remnant of primeval forest in Poland and Belarus, Europe’s only true desert in Spain; and the fathomless grassland steppes of Hungary.
Do humans need the tonic of the wild to be happy? There is more and more evidence that we are dependent on nature’s goods and services, not just to stay alive physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually, too. In Losing Eden, the author and journalistexplains the latest research in human biology, neuroscience and psychology and discovers new ways of understanding our dysfunctional relationship with the Earth.
Andy Fryers is Hay Festival Sustainability Director.
Two authors explore a future affected by environmental exploitation. In Diane Cook's novel, a lament for our alienation from nature and a deeply humane portrayal of motherhood, Bea's five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away. The smog and pollution of the over-developed, over-populated metropolis they call home is ravaging her lungs. Bea knows she cannot stay in the city, but there is only one alternative:The New Wilderness.
Imbolo Mbue’s How Beautiful We Were, set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, tells the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation imposed by an American oil company. Told through the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula, it explores what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, confronts one community’s determination to preserve its ancestral land.
Imbolo Mbue's Behold the Dreamers won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
Diane Cook's collection of short stories, Man v. Nature, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the L.A. Times Book Prize.
In conversation with John Mitchinson, co-founder of Unbound and co-writer of the QI series of books.
Imagine yourself in the forest, sit by the fire and listen to the intoxicating song of the nightingale. Every year, as darkness falls in the woods, this mysterious bird heralds the arrival of spring. Throughout history, its sweet song has inspired musicians, writers and artists around the world, from Germany, France and Italy to Greece, Ukraine and Korea. The conservationist, musician and folk expert reveals in beautiful detail the bird's song, habitat, characteristics and migration patterns, as well as the environmental issues that threaten its livelihood. Join us for a spell-binding blend of chat and music.
Leah Borromeo is a journalist, filmmaker and co-founder of Disobedient films.
Think of any problem that we face and you may be surprised to learn that there is already a solution out there. We just need to know where to look – and have the courage to think big. Everywhere, people are devising ingenious ways to tackle everything from inequality and the climate crisis to the challenges of housing, technology and demographic change. Based on his podcast Reasons to Be Cheerful, Ed Miliband investigates transformative schemes and why they work. He demonstrates that a different world is possible and we can get there by implementing the best, most ambitious solutions on a large scale. The opportunity for change is immense. It’s time to Go Big. Natalie Haynes is an author and broadcaster.
In Smoke Hole, the master storyteller and wilderness guide Martin Shaw invites us to use stories to face the complexities of contemporary life, from fake news, parenthood, climate crises to addictive technology and more. We are urged to reclaim our imagination and untangle ourselves from modern menace to find the truth in wilderness and beauty.
Martin is in conversation with the award-winning novelist Fiona Mountain whose latest book, The Keeper of Songs, is out on July 2nd.