How it is that humanity has brought itself, along with most other species, to the brink of extinction? In the Gilgamesh Gene Revisited, Russell-Jones provides a time-line analysis of man’s relationship with the natural world that stretches back deep into pre-history and illuminates the origins of many of our most cherished fables, myths and religious creeds, which provide our belief systems governing our world and political thinking today. Extinction is avoidable but do we, as sentient beings, possess the ability to change the way we think? This question is fundamental to the survival of the human species.
In this second edition, Dr Robin Russell-Jones expands on his vision of the human condition, providing new findings to many of our most abiding mysteries, including the origin of King Arthur and the Round Table, the Holy Grail and the meaning of the Trinity.
Gilgamesh was a vainglorious king who ruled the city of Uruk in Ancient Mesopotamia, allegedly around 2750 BC. The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest narrative in existence, and it contains the blueprint for much of our environmentally destructive behaviour today. This implacable pursuit of fame and fortune, at the expense of the natural world, has proven so successful that plundering the Earth’s resources has become hard-wired into our thinking: hence the Gilgamesh Gene.
As mankind rushes head-long into the Anthropocene, there is some hope as the author explains the steps we need to take to avert disaster: limiting human numbers; getting away from ever-expanding GDP as the only definition of progress; and urgently implementing the Global Carbon Incentive Fund as the most equitable, efficient and effective way of putting a price on carbon emissions globally.
Dr Russell-Jones is an author and medic and one of the UK’s foremost environmental writers. He has produced films and co-edited several seminal works on the environment, including Lead versus Health with Sir Michael Rutter FRS, Radiation and Health with Sir Richard Southwood FRS, and Ozone Depletion: health and environmental consequences with Prof Tom Wigley. He chairs an educational charity, Help Rescue the Planet, dedicated to minimising air pollution and mitigating climate change.
Reviews from the first edition
“I’m impressed by the range of [his] scholarship and the approach [he] adopt[s] to the huge environmental challenges faced by us and future generations. I also admire [his] sustained commitment.”
Jonathan Dimbleby, Presenter of Any Questions on BBC Radio 4
“An incredible piece of work.”
Adrian Chiles, Presenter BBC Radio Five Live
“Robin Russell-Jones tells an epic tale that traces humankind’s apparent predisposition towards environmental destruction. He takes us from the depths of history to the present day, painting a picture rich in data and political insight. Read it before it’s too late.”
Geraint Davies MP, Council of Europe Rapporteur for fracking and air pollution
“… a remarkable mixture of political analysis and accurate scientific information on key environmental issues such as air pollution, fracking and climate change. Henceforth no politician can say they were not warned.”
Dr Charles Tannock, Conservative Member of the European Parliament for London