School of English


Primate Change: How The World We Made is Remaking Us

24 September 2018

In the last two hundred years, humans have made such a tremendous impact on the world that our geological epoch is about to be declared the ‘Anthropocene’, or the Age of Man. But while we have been busy changing the shape of the world, the ways of living that we have been fashioning have, as if under the cover of darkness, been changing our bodies and altering our DNA, too.

We overindulge in the wrong diets; we are over-stimulated by technology; our lifestyles have become ever more sedentary; we are in a chronic cycle of stress…


The book explores:

  • Why have the fittest, healthiest and longest-living people on the planet never been to a gym?
  • Why are there no chairs in the Bible, Homer or Hamlet, when there are about 60 billion of them on the planet?
  • Why are 96% of young men in Seoul shortsighted when almost 0% of hunter-gathering groups are?
  • Why have our feet grown by two sizes in the last fifty years?
  • Why have we suddenly grown 5 inches in the last two hundred years?
  • Why have rates of osteoarthritis suddenly doubled since the war?
  • 70% of Americans are on prescription drugs, the pills popped each year, laid end-to-end could orbit the planet twice. In the UK, it's high, too – 50%.
  • Over 40% of workers my age walk as little as 10 minutes per month, but such is our screen obsession that our fingers can roam 2 miles on keyboards, screens and console controllers every day.
  • Air pollution kills someone in the UK every ten minutes. While there isn't much we can do to control pollution outdoors, it is very easy to change air quality in home. And it's cheap, too.
Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid is Reader in English & Environmental Humanities at the School of English at the University of Kent.
Primate Change  was published on 20th September by Cassell.




School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 823054

Last Updated: 10/05/2017