What was it that initially separated us from other primates?
What was different about Homo sapiens 30,000 years ago that predicated our survival and the demise of our closest rivals, the Neanderthals?
Why are we obsessed with the notion that GDP is the only possible measure of progress?
If we are able to predict our own demise, why can we not do anything to stop it?

The Gilgamesh Gene is about the human condition, and in particular what it is in our make-up that has brought us, along with most other species on earth, to the brink of extinction. Ultimately it is a question about human psychology. The author draws on the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh to shed light on our predicament and offer a way out.

The epic is the oldest narrative in existence: it tells the story of a vainglorious king, Gilgamesh, who ruled the city of Uruk in Sumer about 2750 BC. He wished to leave a lasting memory of his feats by building great palaces out of cedar wood, killing the mythical guardian of the cedar forests so that he could “stamp his fame on the minds of men forever”. Dr Russell-Jones compares the different versions of the legend and traces their influence through Bronze Age civilisations to traditions that still dominate human thinking and world affairs today.

The Gilgamesh Gene incorporates the key scientific data that underlies the science of global warming, the decline of coral reefs, and the extreme vulnerability of ecosystems everywhere to global changes in the atmosphere and the oceans. His book is a warning that humanity’s demise is imminent, unless precautions are taken.


Author Details
Dr Russell-Jones 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 Professor Tom Wigley. He chairs an educational charity, Help Rescue the Planet, which is dedicated to minimising air pollution and mitigating climate change.

Visit Dr Russell-Jones’ website, Help Rescue the Planet.

You can read more about Dr Russell-Jones on his author page.


“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

Listen here to an interview on BBC Radio Berkshire between Dr Russell-Jones and Bill Buckley about The Gilgamesh Gene and Climate Change.