The Life Cycle Book

The Life Cycle has twin aims: to tell a cracking good travel story, and to leave the reader with an enhanced understanding of biodiversity – the astonishing variety of life on earth – and why its future concerns us all. It joins the genre of travel writing that explores an issue or topic in addition to, though often by virtue of, the lands and people the traveller encounters, and her adventures on the road.

The travel story involves a solo woman on an 8,000 mile journey through South America, a bike made of bamboo and a lot of mountains. The issue is biodiversity loss. Populations of wild animals have plummeted by 60% in less than the author’s lifetime. Across the world, we are losing species at such a rate it has been called ‘The Sixth Great Extinction’, caused for the first time in earth’s history by a resident species – us. This is a tragedy for many of our much loved ‘charismatic megafauna’ such as the jaguar, Andean condor, spectacled bear and numerous others on the endangered species list. Start thinking about smaller creatures and it becomes clear that biodiversity loss is a tragedy with potentially catastrophic consequences. For example, scientists have found that insects, who make up a staggering 50% of all known living organisms and play vital roles in our ecosystems, are declining by 40% worldwide. Humans cannot survive without pollinators and other ‘critical minifauna’. And one third of all insect species are now endangered. 

Despite its gravity, biodiversity loss has received much less attention than climate change. This is beginning to shift, thanks not least to recent UN reports and the championship of David Attenborough through programmes such as Our Planet. There is a way to go yet, though; a key goal of The Life Cycle is to help expedite the remaining journey. The connections currently being made between our impacts on wildlife and their habitats, and the emergence of new viruses, add a horrible currency to the book’s central claim. Nature is not a luxury: it is our life support system. We cannot continue to devastate nature without risking further calamitous repercussions. The good news is that there is a huge amount we can all do to turn this around. 

I hope that The Life Cycle, in showing why biodiversity matters to everyone, will become part of a powerful call for action – action for life – as well as an informative, celebratory, engaging, adventure of a read.

The Life Cycle book is represented by James Spackman at The BKS Agency

It will be published by Icon Books, Spring 2022

Praise for Kate Rawles’ previous book

The Carbon Cycle; Crossing the Great Divide (shortlisted for the Banff Mountain Festival Adventure Travel Book Award 2013)

“Kate Rawles sets out to discover about global warming the hard way.” 

Michael Palin

“[a] powerful analysis of the deep roots of climate change, communicated via a compelling journey.” 

Christiana Figueres – former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change