Different essays will appear here from time to time. Please return to enjoy a variety.


Your Safety Is a Barrier to Trade

2 August 2013,  Huffington Post:  James occasionally writes on environmental and legal issues for the Huffington Post: “Industry lobbyists are working to ensure a new transatlantic trade deal gives commercial interests precedence over public health. Environmental lawyers at ClientEarth have shown that at least one part of the proposals is both anti-democratic and illegal. Improving relations between Europe and the U.S. is a noble aim….”  Read on…     Click here to read other Huffington Post blog posts by James Thornton.


flowering_bushesThe Wild Mind: Ecopsychology and Mental Health

What does a nightingale have to do with your mental health?

As I write, nightingales are singing outside the window. I am in the wild French Pyrenees, and the river valleys in these mountains still give refuge to nightingales, shy brown birds that have disappeared from much of their former range. Once common in England, they are now rare there. If Keats were alive today, it is unlikely he would have heard one, and so might never have written his Ode to a Nightingale…Read on


caterpillarBacteria ‘R’ Us: The Origins of Complex Life

There was a time on Earth when everything was red. Or rather reddish pink, as James Lovelock corrected me when I showed him an earlier version of this essay. Lovelock and Lynn Margulis formulated the Gaia hypothesis, and Margulis had a further extraordinary insight into the origins of complex life on the planet.

The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Although the exact time life first appeared is disputed, it took hold quickly—many geologists believe life’s first chemical signature at 3.8 billion years old. Where life came from we don’t yet know…Read on


SydneyHeraldOur World Needs a New Renaissance

June 9, 2009, Sydney Morning Herald (Maria Wilkinson, Environment editor)

In 2009 James was asked to speak alongside Brian Eno at Sydney’s music, arts and ideas festival Luminous. In parallel, the Sydney Morning Herald published this essay by James on why the world needs a new Renaissance: Humanity is at a turning point and we must adapt to survive, writes James Thornton.  Read on…




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