Rebel Library


The Dark Mountain Project is a network of creative activity, centred on the Dark Mountain journal, and sustained by the work of a growing gang of collaborators and contributors, as well as the support of thousands of readers around the world. They are walking away from the stories that we like to tell ourselves, the stories that prevent us clearly seeing the extent of the ecological, social and cultural unravelling that is now underway.

Philip Webb Gregg, a member of the Dark Mountain Project writes:

Dark Mountain’s 20th issue, ABYSS brings an uncivilised eye to the mindset of extractivism: an insatiable, pathological drive that has fuelled a seemingly endless expansion in energy use, manufacturing and economic activity. Just as our consumption appears to have no end in sight, there are no geographical limits: as mining or drilling operations shut down in one part of the world, having exhausted their seams or become economically unviable, new ones open up elsewhere – many of them to power the so-called ‘green’ technology boom.

Governments and billionaires dream of extending this frontier deeper and higher than ever before, from deep-sea mining on the ocean floor to plundering the minerals of other planets. Impelled by the need to take, take, take, the appetite of extractivism is all-consuming and unending.

In ABYSS, Alnoor Ladha and Martin Kirk write that we are living in the age of wetiko, an Algonquin term for a cannibalistic spirit that spreads like a virus. Amitav Ghosh draws the link between capitalist imperialism today and the 17th-century Dutch colonists in Indonesia’s Banda Islands, who massacred the indigenous population in order to gain control over the trade in nutmeg. And in South Africa, colonised for its mineral wealth and fertile land, Sage Freda writes of how environmental and human exploitation are inextricably linked; the more we wreck and ravage the Earth, the more deeply we damage ourselves. As wetiko spreads across the world, all of us – and all other species – end up living and dying in the sacrifice zone.

From the Amazon to the Niger Delta, the Atacama Desert to the Minnesota wetlands, communities and indigenous people are attempting to defend the living world from devastation. Many contributors to ABYSS are part of the pushback against the pillage: from the protest camp at the proposed lithium mine at Thacker Pass, Nevada, and from a deep-sea oil rig in New Zealand’s Great South Basin, Dark Mountain brings stories from the activist front line.”


Book List of the Month

The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021.




The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.

The first of three working groups (WGI) published Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis on 9 August 2021. A total of 234 scientists from 66 countries contributed to this first of three working group reports. The report’s authors built on more than 14,000 scientific papers to produce a 3,949 page report, which was then approved by 195 governments. The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) document was drafted by scientists and agreed to line-by-line by the 195 governments in the IPCC during the five days leading up to 6 August 2021.

According to the report, it is only possible to avoid warming of 1.5 °C or 2 °C if massive and immediate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are made.

COP26: Virtual Book Showcase For Climate Change

Exact Editions has been working with the International Publishers Association, the Publishers Association and Save the Children to showcase over 140 books from 39 publishers that span a wide variety of content addressing climate change and sustainability to coincide and contribute to both the Pre-COP Meeting in Milan (30 September -03 October) and the COP26 Meeting in Glasgow (1-12 November). Check them all out here:

John Murray, 14 Oct 2021, ISBN: 1529369436

The Nutmeg’s Curse by Amitav Ghosh

In this ambitious successor to The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh finds the origins of our contemporary climate crisis in Western colonialism’s violent exploitation of human life and the natural environment. Ghosh’s new book traces our contemporary planetary crisis back to the discovery of the New World and the sea route to the Indian Ocean. The Nutmeg’s Curse argues that the dynamics of climate change today are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism. At the centre of Ghosh’s narrative is the now-ubiquitous spice nutmeg. The history of the nutmeg is one of conquest and exploitation—of both human life and the natural environment. In Ghosh’s hands, the story of the nutmeg becomes a parable for our environmental crisis, revealing the ways human history has always been entangled with earthly materials such as spices, tea, sugarcane, opium, and fossil fuels. Our crisis, he shows, is ultimately the result of a mechanistic view of the earth, where nature exists only as a resource for humans to use for our own ends, rather than a force of its own, full of agency and meaning.

Pan Macmillan, October 2021, ISBN: 9781529075687

A Bigger Picture by Vanessa Nakate

In A Bigger Picture Vanessa Nakate exposes the shortcomings of our global discussions around climate change, which consistently envisage the environmental crisis as a problem for future generations. Such a vision is only possible through the erasure of the voices of people living in the Global South, where environmental disasters are already having a devastating impact on communities, and especially on women.

Icon Books, June 2021, ISBN: 9781785787751

Climate Change is Racist by Jeremy Williams

In this book Jeremy Williams argues that climate change is structurally racist and that the climate crisis reflects and reinforces racial injustices.

Octopus Publishing, 23 September 2021, ISBN: 9781914240041

Consumed. The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change and Consumerism by Aja Barber

In the first half of Consumed. The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change and Consumerism, Aja Barber writes of the endemic injustices in our consumer industries and the uncomfortable history of the textile industry. She reveals how we spend our money and whose pockets it goes into and whose it doesn’t. In the second half of the book, Barber helps us understand the uncomfortable truths behind why we consume the way we do.


The Indigo Press, 30 September 2021, ISBN: 9781911648321

Tomorrow Is Too Late by Grace Maddrell

In Tomorrow Is Too Late, Grace Maddrell collects testimonies of activism and hope from young climate strikers, from Brazil and Burundi to Pakistan and Palestine. These youth activists are experiencing the reality of the climate crisis, including typhoons, drought, flood, fire, crop failure and ecological degradation, and are all engaged in the struggle to bring these issues to the centre of the world stage.

Scribe, September 2020, ISBN 978-1912854523

The Animals in that Country by Laura Jean McKay

A zoonotic pandemic sweeps the world, enabling humans who catch the new virus to communicate with animals. And what the animals have to say is terrible to hear. Written before the COVID-19 pandemic, Laura Jean McKay’s debut novel won several literary prizes including the prestigious Arthur C Clarke award for science fiction. Taking its title from a Margaret Atwood poem, the novel tells the story of Jean, a tour guide at an animal rescue centre, her granddaughter Kim, and a captive dingo called Sue. As readers we hear voices of suffering and begin to question our relationship with the nonhuman world. In the hands of McKay, human and nonhuman language comes to sound the same as the protagonists struggle to find the same kinds of experiences: love, safety and connection.

Canongate Books, 5th September 2021, ISBN: 9781838852153

Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles

An essay collection that blends memoir with powerful writing on the natural world, taking us from London to New Zealand, Shanghai to Malaysia. Small Bodies of Water weaves together personal memories, dreams and nature writing. It reflects on a girlhood spent growing up between two cultures and explores what it means to belong.

BBC Books, 14 October 2021, ISBN: 9781785946974

In 39 Ways to Save the Planet by Tom Heap

In 39 Ways to Save the Planet, Tom Heap reveals some of the solutions to climate change that are happening around the world, right now. From tiny rice seeds and fossil fuel free steel to grazing elk and carbon-capturing seagrass meadows, each chapter reveals the energy and optimism of those tackling the fundamental problem facing all of us.

Dorling Kindersley, 28th October 2021, ISBN: 9780241513514

The Most Important Comic Book on Earth

The Most Important Comic Book on Earth brings together 300 leading environmentalists, artists, authors, actors, filmmakers, musicians and more to present over 120 stories to help save the world.

Bloodaxe Books, 31st October 2007, ISBN: 9781852247744

Earth Shattering

Published in 2007, Earth Shattering was one of the first anthologies to show a wide range of ecopoetry, from the wilderness poetry of ancient China to 21st-century native American poetry, with postcolonial and feminist perspectives represented by writers such as Derek Walcott, Ernesto Cardinal, Oodgeroo and Susan Griffin. Ecopoetry goes beyond traditional nature poetry to take on distinctly contemporary issues, recognising the interdependence of all life on earth, the wildness and otherness of nature and the irresponsibility of our attempts to tame and plunder nature. Earth Shattering includes contributions from many great writers of the past as well as leading contemporary poets from around the world, ranging from Wordsworth, Clare, Hopkins, Hardy, Rilke and Charlotte Mew to Wendell Berry, Helen Dunmore, Joy Harjo, Denise Levertov, W.S. Merwin and Gary Snyder.


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Poem of the Month

from 1984 on ‘The Tarka Trail by Ted Hughes


The River is suddenly green – dense bottle green.

Hard in the sun, dark as spinach.

Drought pools bleach their craters.

The river’s floor is a fleece –

Tresses of some vile stuff

That disintegrates to a slime as you touch it

Leaving your fingers fouled with a stink of diesel.


The river’s glutted – a boom of plenty for algae.

A festering olla podrida, poured slowly.

Surfactants, ammonia, phosphates – the whole banquet

Flushed in by sporadic thunderbursts

But never a flood enough to scour a sewer,

Never enough to resurrect a river.


A bottleful is like sap, a rich urine,

With miniscule flying saucers whizzing in it.

Down near the estuary – this goes into the mains.

But nothing can help the patient. In the August afternoon

The golden picnic sunrays, leaning dustily

Through the conifers, gaze down

At a ditch-carcase, a puddled horror –

Bile draining from rags, the hulk of ribs.


Charlie found a stranded mussel. He brought it

Up the fishing ladder.

The lips gaped. We peered in, and pried wider,

Parted her pearly gates to get a peek

At her curtained uvula: Queen of the River

Still in her silken chamber, or was it – ?

A yawn of putrid phlegm.


Then the stench hit us. He yelled

And flailed it from his fingers as if it had burnt him

Into a blaze of willowherb

‘God! The river’s dead! Oh God!

Even the mussels are finished!’


The tale of a dying river

Does not end where you stand with the visitors

At a sickbed, feeling the usual

Nothing more than mangled helplessness.

You cannot leave this hospital because

Peter, the good corn farmer, with his three plus

Tons of quality grain to the acre (behind him

The Min. of Ag. And Fish.’s hard guarantee

Which is the hired assurance of hired science)

Heaps the poison into you too.


His upriver neighbour – just as overwhelmed –

Wades through slurry and silage. Where his dad

Milked a herd of twenty, he milks ninety –

Oozing effluent ‘equal to the untreated

Sewage of a city the size of Gloucester’.


But Peter, our clean corn farmer, nature protector,

Striding between lush hedgebanks he lets go bush

To gladden the spider, past his carefully nursed

Neglected nettles (a creche for the butterflies),

The birdwatcher, binoculars thumping his sternum,

Has measured his medicines towards that maximum yield

Into your dish for years. Yes, and smiled

Up towards the colluding sun. And returned

Over his corn (which now, near ripe, seems burned

Oak-dark with some fungus) thirteen times

Between the drill and the reaper.


Threehundredweight of 20-10-10 to the acre,

A hundredweight and a half straight Nitram.

Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, the grand slam –

Each time twenty gallons to the acre

Into your dish, with top-ups. And slug-pellets

A bonus, with the rest, into your cup

(Via the lifeless ditch – meaning your tap).

Now you are as loaded with the data

That cultivates his hopes, in this brief gamble

As this river is –

As he is too,

He can’t escape either, nor can his lively young wife,

Who laughs if you ask them why they do what they do

(Her voice ventriloqual, her shoulders jerking on their strings)

‘But the children have to be educated.’

Ted Hughes: Collected Poems, ed. Paul Keegan (Faber & Faber, 2003), ISBN: 0571227902

Also published in Earth Shattering, Edited by Neil Astley, Bloodaxe Books, 31st October 2007, ISBN: 9781852247744

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