Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The God Species” as Want to Read:
The God Species
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The God Species

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  398 ratings  ·  60 reviews
In 2008 Mark Lynas attended a meeting of leading scientists in Sweden when it suddenly dawned on him that what was being discussed represents a revolutionary new approach to maintaining the life of, and life on, our planet. This book examines this topic.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Fourth Estate (GB) (first published January 1st 2011)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The God Species, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The God Species

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  398 ratings  ·  60 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The God Species
Michael Quinn
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In case you hadn't noticed, the American debate about the major environmental challenges of our times is fundamentally broken. This is the result of a political culture that grows ever more partisan, fueling a discourse that is more vitriolic each day.

On the right, at its worst we have people who deny that any of these issues even exist, preferring the ostrich approach to global problems. At its best, we have people who acknowledge the problems but prefer stalling tactics instead of resolutions
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: eco
Published in 2011, Mark Lynas's The God Species uses Johan Rockström's planetary boundaries to organize environmental concerns. The boundaries, btw, are: biodiversity, climate change, nitrogen, land use, freshwater, toxics, aerosols, ocean acidification, and the ozone layer. And Lynas advocates for Stewart Brand's eco-pragmatist approach to responding to our pushing up against (or running far past) these boundaries. Like Brand, Lynas likes nuclear energy, genetically modified food, and cities. L ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is some of the worst science writing I've ever seen.

Even when Lynas shows the depth of his climate change knowledge, his conclusions and opinions pissed me off to no end. There is so much lazy wishful thinking, baseless conjecture and condescending arrogance here. Lynas should stick to journalism (he is not a scientist by background) - the only part I actually enjoyed was his firsthand account of the demise of the 2009 Copenhagen summit, which was simple reporting. This book has aged very
Brad Marshall
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great read on tacking climate change and other environmental crises without us all moving back into mud huts.
Annette Jarratt-Knock
An holistic view of the impact of humans on the environment based on the planetary boundaries proposed by a group of environmental scientists. These are points beyond which damage to the Earth cannot be recovered or not readily or completely. Refreshing in that it tackles aspects of human impacts other than climate change and imbued with a sense of urgency for action offers potential ways forward whilst acknowledging that the majority of people will not be persuaded by belt tightening and self s ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
In 9 years this book seems very out of date. I appreciated another viewpoint on matters such as nuclear power - which in opposition to most of the Green lobby the author supports- and some more information on biodiversity but overall a bit of a slog of a book.
Eric Roston
A terrifically informative and insightful expansion on a key study from the past few years.
Karl-Friedrich Lenz
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: global-warming
Okay, this is going to be a long review, since I will collect almost all of my blog posts on this book I did last year on Lenz Blog. Here we go.

The god species (1), published July 1, 2011

I am looking forward to the release of Mark Lynas’ newest book “The god species” that is scheduled in a couple of days.

While I plan to discuss it here once I get it on my Kindle, it might be fun to briefly note a couple of thoughts going through my head when reading just that title.

It is obviously true that othe
Sevket Akyildiz
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
A fifty-fifty book! Fifty per cent (or more) is (very readable) science and policy based discussion with rational observations made by the author about the potential boundaries or tipping points (covering humankind's impact on the natural world) with each boundary given a separate chapter: the biodiversity boundary; the climate change boundary; the nitrogen boundary; the land use boundary; the freshwater boundary; the toxics boundary; the aerosols boundary; the ocean acidification boundary; and ...more
Alienus Orator
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
A fantastic read. It is a clear break from the pessimistic rendering of environmental problems.
A must read for those who crave a pragmatic outlook on the issues. Shines the light on well known and widely discussed facets like the climate change and also the less discussed areas like freshwater management and nitrogen pollution. It conveys the urgency and the current standing of the humanity but since the book was written in 2011 the data might be a little outdated.
In an age where the action is
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very informative and well presented book about the various boundaries (c02, acification of the ocean, land use, species loss...) with practical analysis of how we can continue to grow and mitigate potential disasters.

Sue Chant
May 24, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, science-general
Didn't realise until I got into this book that it was from 2011 - much of the info was well out of date and there are more current environmental books out there. ...more
Jo Bournemouth
Apr 04, 2021 rated it liked it
The first couple of chapters were thought provoking but then I got bogged down and didn’t finish it.
Megan Blood
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Just a few thoughts as I go along:

-The more I learn about science, the more I realize how little we know about anything. For every answer, we open a hundred questions. Which is why it gets irritating to read about thing like evolution and global warming like they're settled in stone. Which isn't to say that I reject evolution/global warming (I don't)--I just reject the idea that we really know what happened/is happening well enough to make huge changes wisely.

-Interesting ideas about putting pri
Michael Berman
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
This is a very provocative analysis of the current environmental issues facing the earth. Starting from the assumption that mankind has the power to remake the face of the planet (as we have been doing unintentionally since the first time we burned a savannah), the author looks at how we can avoid crossing, or in some cases, revert back below, certain planetary boundaries. The boundaries--which cover things such as the maximum amount of CO2 in the environment, the maximum sustainable loss of spe ...more
20th book for 2016.

This is a good evidence based attempt to explore various natural boundaries (global warming; species loss; ocean acidification; etc) that we as a species we as a species can't cross if we hope to maintain a livable global environment.

There are a lots and lots of interesting ideas here.

He takes strong aim at environmental groups for being too ideological (anti-GM and anti-nuclear based on belief not facts), which I sympathetic too; though both issues need a much more through
Jan Denn
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
"Ecological limits are real, economic limits are not." This pretty much summarizes Lynas's book. This is one of the best environmentalist books I've reads so far--clear, comprehensive, provocative, realistic. The God Species incorporates not only ecology but also politics and economics in the environmental-protection arena. His work does not advocate the antitechnological or the "we are morally obligated to protect nature" creed proposed by many Greens. Instead, he uses scientific, historical, a ...more
Brandt Kurowski
Not one of the most enjoyable books I've read recently, but certainly one of the most important. I consider it essential reading for anyone who cares about the environment. Be forewarned that Lynas spares no sacred cows in his evidence-based assessment of the problems caused by human influence on Earth, and the solutions. For example:

1. Worried about global warming? Advocate for nuclear power.

2. Concerned about fertilizer run-off? Start eating GMO crops.

3. Want to feed the planet? Stop supportin
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Solid science backs rational arguments that ill-informed activists are stopping us from applying viable technical fixes to the environment's real and pressing problems.

A brisk counter-punch to the scientifically-illiterate western middle-class types who hope to persuade the relatively impoverished majority of humanity to give up any hope of a future of increased personal comfort (such as they themselves enjoy) in order to be dirt-poor subsistence farmers, despite the fact that even if we we till
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owns, kindle
Loved it! This is my kind of environmentalism.

1. He backs up everything he says with scientific studies.
2. He's not an ideologue. He's willing to break away from traditional environmental rhetoric if that's what the science suggests, specifically when it comes to nuclear energy and genetically modified food.
3. He's an optimist. He doesn't see environmental collapse as inevitable and has many, many reasonable suggestions on ways to approach it.
4. He's practical. He doesn't call for idealistic, Ut
Samyuktha jayaprakash
Beautiful book . Eye opening
A very strong case by Lynas , paving way towards a very practical and pragmatic approach to save our world.
Every boundary is very well explained and I particularly like his growth oriented alternative seeking green approach . The fact that he displays the weakness in his argument himself is heartening. Nuclear , geo engineering and genetics seem to be tantalisingly practicable . The moral scientific distinction is helpful . Also the look into the political workings
Lois Binalla
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, adult
I have learned a lot on this wonderful book I am so glad I found this on booksale.

It is very informative. Even if you are not that into science, this book will enlighten the reader.

Even though I found this book very enlightening, I found this book very depressing at the same time. The destruction made by humans have been discussed here. So much destruction since the arrival of humans, and it still hasn't stopped.

I love Mother Earth, I am only aware of the few environmental problems discussed h
Bricoleur  (David) Soul
Jul 09, 2011 is currently reading it
This book has been made "unavailable" on Amazon UK as they received a complaint from a customer that What they received was not as described!

This is he message you receive on the Amazon UK web site as of Saturday July 9, 2011:

Item Under Review

This product is not currently offered by because a customer recently told us that the item he or she received was not as described.

We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible. In the meantime, you may still find this product available
Jade Whitmore
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a book everyone needs to read.

Its eye opening, but it doesn't scream of despair. This book logically analyses the current environmental threats, handily referred to as boundaries, and shows how they can be dealt with. Some of the authors recommendations may seem controversial, but I honestly believe he shows a realistic way to resolve environmental issues.

Despite its scientific complexity this book isn't just for graduates. Anyone with a basic scientific understanding or even willingnes
Elizabeth Hauke
Sep 06, 2012 rated it liked it
A very compelling and non-sensational walk through the facts of detrimental human interactions with the earth, which hinges on several key concepts such as the 'tipping point'. It is perhaps a little too detailed for my taste - I found that once the point had been made I wanted to skip on to the next chapter to find out about the next aspect of the problem. However, I did like the practical and down-to-earth suggestion of solutions and actions that could alter the course the planet seems to be s ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lynas provides a good overview of the planetary boundaries that we must figure out how to live within, and challenges the assumptions of many environmentalists on what will be needed to achieve those goals. Ultimately it is hopeful, but a little simplistic in places. While he makes a good case for why nuclear power needs to be part of the solution to climate change, he glosses over the problems of nuclear safety and long-term waste management. I can accept that maybe the risks of climate change ...more
John Kaufmann
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
A few years ago several scientists proposed a theory in one of the major scientific journals that there are nine planetary boundaries we need to be careful of crossing. Lynas summarizes these for nonscientists and provides much more discussion and elaboration. The attempt is too more clearly define the limits, so we know when we're approaching them or have passed them (p.s. - we have passed some already). This ties the major environmental/ecological issues together in a common framework and make ...more
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very impactful book that may make you rethink your position on environmental issues. The premise of the book is that if we have the power to change our environment for the worse, we also have the ability to change it for the better without sacrificing economic growth. Takes unpopular stances within the green movement including providing surprising evidence in support of nuclear power as the only realistic option available to us today to preventing global warming.

This book will make you think dee
Russell Warfield
Loads of studied insight, but with many unsavoury suggestions. I can see the sense in at least debating issues like nuclear power, but suggestions like privatising water are pretty bonkers. Furthermore, he seems to actively revel in his contrarian positions, which slightly deflates his arguments as serious conclusions.

I'd say that his central suggestion that strong governmental policy is needed on a global scale is spot on, but I think he places too much faith in markets to sort out our various
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality
  • God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter
  • Writing Memoir: The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life
  • Women Don't Owe You Pretty
  • Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World
  • The Infinite Game
  • Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
  • The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 3: Hotel Oblivion
  • Loki: Where Mischief Lies
  • The Covenant of Genesis (Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase, #4)
  • The Fire Keeper (The Storm Runner, #2)
  • Heartlight (The Adventures of Kate, #1)
  • The Storm Runner (The Storm Runner, #1)
  • The Raven
  • The Merlin Effect (The Adventures of Kate, #3)
  • Troubletwisters (Troubletwisters, #1)
  • Inferno
  • Jesus Lived in India: His Unknown Life Before and After the Crucifixion
See similar books…
Mark Lynas is a British author, journalist and environmental activist who focuses on climate change.

News & Interviews

Nature, in Her infinite awesomeness, can provide solace even when you’re stuck in the house. As a matter of fact, the numbers suggest that...
75 likes · 11 comments
“At 1.24 am on 26 April 1986 Chernobyl’s Unit 4 reactor exploded after staff disabled safety systems and performed an ill-advised experiment to check – ironically enough – the reactor’s safety.” 5 likes
“I particularly dislike the high-profile switch-off campaigns where whole cities are plunged into darkness for an hour as a supposedly symbolic gesture about energy use. So is the implication that we all need to live in constant gloom to reduce CO2 emissions?” 4 likes
More quotes…