Almost 28 years after it was first established, the biggest science book prize in Britain has for the first time been won by a female author.
It is with great pleasure that I announce that environmental journalist gaia, an award-winning journalist and broadcaster based in London, has been selected as the 2015 Royal Society Winton prize for Science Books winner. The ceremony was held in London on Thursday evening.
It is indeed a great honor to have her name listed next to a long list of previous award recipients that also includes the names of Stephen Hawking, Stephen Jay Gould, Jared Diamond, James Gleick, and Bill Bryson, all masters in the field of science journalism.
For the purpose of researching her book, Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made, Vince spent more than two years traveling the world for over two years after quitting her position as an editor at the magazine Nature. It is the term Anthropocene, coined in the 1980s, that is used to describe a new period in Earth’s geological history, that is, one in which humans have overtaken nature as mankind’s most powerful force on earth.
The writing assignment I had to do was something that was uncomfortable for me. A number of his trips in the past few years have taken him to places where the most severe damage has been caused to people and the environment by humanity’s exploitation of Earth’s resources. It should not be a surprise that poor people have been the hardest hit, as they have been the most affected. As well as visiting slums in Colombia, the author visited a silver mine in Bolivia and visited slums along the way as well. She discovered that a man in the Caribbean had made a new island out of refuse and decorated it with papaya leaves and palm trees when she landed there. It appeared to be a typical Caribbean island, with two wooden homes. She was cut short in the middle of her globetrotting adventure by a bout of malaria that she contracted while she was in the middle of it.
Vince’s researchers into an under-reported field of science and his ability to write an original story were highlighted by Ian Stewart, the chair of the judges. Stewart stressed that all the judges unanimously agreed that Vince had won the competition. He stated via email that Vince’s “dedication to this book” has been a source of pride to us all, a source of humility indeed. Despite the fact that she has provided a very insightful analysis of the issue of the day, she has done so in a way that could both empower and at the same time never allow complacency to set in. I am very pleased that today we are recognizing and acknowledging this important work.
This year’s Royal Society book prize went to Grace Vince, who is the first woman ever to win this prestigious prize as a sole author. The prize is worth £25,000, making her the first woman to receive this award. This novella was written by Alan Walker and Pat Shipman, who won the award for their work on The Wisdom of Bones in 1997.
Several times during his acceptance speech, Vince thanked the judges for giving him this award. She responded, “I wasn’t going to bet on you.” when she was told that her money was on someone else.