Gaia Vince is an environmental journalist, author and broadcaster. Her work focuses largely on the interplay between humans and the planetary environment. Her latest book, TRANSCENDENCE: How Humans Evolved Through Fire, Language, Beauty & Time, was published in the United States in January, 2020 by Basic Books.
Her first book, Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made, won the 2015 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books, making her the first woman to win the prize outright. That book discussed the Anthropocene, the geological epoch that began when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth’s ecosystems.
She has held senior editorial posts at Nature and New Scientist, and her writing has featured in newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, The Times and Scientific American. She also writes and presents science programs for radio and television. Her research takes her across the world: she has visited more than 60 countries. She currently lives in London, where we spoke with her via Skype.
In addition to fire and language, Gaia Vince asserts that beauty was a powerful force in human evolution. She cites artifacts such as the “Lion Man”, the oldest known zoomorphic sculpture and uncontested example of figurative art, between 35,000 and 40,000 years old. It was carved of mammoth ivory using a flint knife and stands 31.1cm tall, 5.6cm wide and 5.9cm thick.
Recent articles pertinent to this interview:
Cave find shows Neanderthals collected seafood, scientists say https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/mar/26/cave-find-shows-neanderthals-collected-seafood-scientists-say
Trail of African bling reveals 50,000-year-old social network https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/jan/16/trail-of-african-bling-reveals-50000-year-old-social-network
The Fight to Preserve a 44,000-year-old Painting https://www.1843magazine.com/features/the-fight-to-preserve-a-44000yearold-painting?utm_source=pocket-newtab
Fossil hunters find evidence of 555m-year-old human relative https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/mar/23/fossil-ikaria-wariootia-bilateral-organism-human-relative
El Silbo Gomero https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtEovudxXVE
Whistled Turkish helps speak across valleys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjcVLLdPCoU
500,000-year-old shell engraved by Homo erectus challenges previous beliefs about human ancestors https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-evolution-human-origins/500000-year-old-shell-engraved-homo-erectus-challenges-beliefs-020122
Whistled language of the island of La Gomera, the Silbo Gomero (UNESCO) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgEmSb0cKBg
Big Gods Came After the Rise of Civilizations, Not Before, Finds Study Using Huge Historical Database https://theconversation.com/big-gods-came-after-the-rise-of-civilisations-not-before-finds-study-using-huge-historical-database-113801
Rift Valley Drifters written/sung by Roy Zimmerman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqy44OsmwLo
Why it’s so hard to be rational about Covid-19 https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200331-covid-19-how-will-the-coronavirus-change-the-world