VPRO Backlight

Paul Kingsnorth, Portrait of A Recovering Environmentalist

VPRO Backlight

Paul Kingsnorth, Portrait of A Recovering Environmentalist

Former environmentalist and author Paul Kingsnorth has withdrawn to Ireland, to a rare and unspoilt part of the planet. You could say: to the end of the world. A portrait of an apocalyptic thinker who, nevertheless, never gives up hope and continues to have faith in the power of nature.

Thinker and author Paul Kingsnorth climbed the barricades as a nature conservationist at an early stage. Both close to home in England and on the other end of the world in Papua New Guinea did he oppose the insatiable hunger of the globalizing world for more land, raw materials and things. Kingsnorth was one of the leaders of the environmental movement. His fervent speeches reached a wide international audience. And then he repented. He lost his faith in humanity to save the world. In his essays bundled as ‘Confessions of a recovering environmentalist’ (2017), he describes how the calculators of this world eroded the green movement from the inside out exchanging the barricades for neck ties and conference tables. Reducing CO2 emission became the new gospel because it was measurable and calculable. But according to Kingsnorth, that is an illusion. In his opinion, today's green movement is trading what is left of the wilderness for wind turbine or solar panel farms. The battle has been lost.

Kingsnorth withdrew with his family to the Irish countryside in order to live a self-sustainable life. He set up the 'Dark Mountain Project' within which authors, poets and artists are looking for a different view on the end of the world, based on the connectedness between man and nature. He has exchanged his clenched fist and protesting voice for an inner literary quest for the answer to the question of what makes us human and what is our place on this magical planet.