Photo of Simon L. Lewis

Simon L. Lewis

University College London and University of Leeds
Email: s.l.lewis [at] ucl [period/dot]

I am Professor of Global Change Science, at both University College London and the University of Leeds. My main research interests are to understand how humans are changing the Earth system, with a focus on the topics and the global carbon cycle. I am interested in net zero plans, negative emissions, and greenwash by governments and companies. My teams scientific discoveries include the globally significant carbon sink in intact tropical forests, the evolution of the carbon sink; and the world’s largest tropical peatland complex in central Congo. I co-founded and co-manage the African Tropical Rainforest Observatory ( In 2018 I published, with Mark Maslin, The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene (Penguin), and exploration of the science, history and politics of the Anthropocene, an Observer book of the year and shortlisted for the Azimov Prize.

Simon Lewis’s website.


“Wannes Hubau, Simon L Lewis, et al. 2020. Asynchronous carbon sink saturation in African and Amazonian tropical forests. Nature 579 (7797), 80-87.

Martin JP Sullivan, Simon L Lewis, et al. 2020. Long-term thermal sensitivity of Earth’s tropical forests, Science, 368, 869-874.

Simon L. Lewis et al. 2019, Regenerate natural forests to store carbon. Nature 568, 25-28.

Alex Koch et al. … Simon L. Lewis 2019 Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492. Quaternary Science Reviews 207, 13-36.

Greta C Dargie, Simon L. Lewis, et al. 2017. Age, extent and carbon storage of the central Congo Basin peatland complex. Nature, 542, 86-90.

Simon L. Lewis, 2016. The Paris Agreement has solved a troubling problem. Nature, 532, 283.

Simon L Lewis, et al. 2015. Increasing human dominance of tropical forests. Science, 349, 827-832.

Simon L. Lewis, Mark A. Maslin 2015. Defining the Anthropocene. Nature, 519, 171-180.

Simon L. Lewis 2014. Scientist-versus-activist debates mislead the public. Nature, 506, 409.

Aerin L. Jacob, Sarah Jane Wilson, & Simon L. Lewis 2014. Forests are more than sticks of carbon. Nature, 507, 306.

Simon L. Lewis et al. 2011. The 2010 Amazon Drought. Science, 331, 554.

Simon L. Lewis 2009. Carbon emissions: the poorest forest dwellers could suffer. Nature, 462, 567-567.

Media Coverage

Articles by Simon L. Lewis:

The Climate Crisis Can’t Be Solved by Carbon Accounting Tricks | Simon Lewis.” the Guardian, March 3, 2021.

Outdated Carbon Credits from Old Wind and Solar Farms Are Threatening Climate Change Efforts.” The Conversation. January 14, 2021.

Why the Anthropocene Began with European Colonisation, Mass Slavery and the ‘great Dying’ of the 16th Century.” The Conversation. June 25, 2020.

We Tracked 300,000 Trees Only to Find That Rainforests Are Losing Their Power to Help Humanity.” The Conversation. March 6, 2020.

I’m a Climate Change Scientist – and I’m Campaigning for Labour This Election.” The Conversation. December 3, 2019.

Rewild 25% of the UK for Less Climate Change, More Wildlife and a Life Lived Closer to Nature.” The Conversation. October 1, 2019.

Sucking Carbon out of the Air Is No Magic Fix for the Climate Emergency | Simon Lewis.” the Guardian, August 1, 2019.

We’ve Declared a Climate Emergency – Here’s What Universal Basic Income Could Do to Help the Planet.” The Conversation. May 17, 2019.

The Scandal of Calling Plantations ‘forest Restoration’ Is Putting Climate Targets at Risk.” The Conversation. April 4, 2019.

This Heatwave Is Just the Start. Britain Has to Adapt to Climate Change, Fast | Simon Lewis.” the Guardian, July 6, 2018.

Don’t Despair – Climate Change Catastrophe Can Still Be Averted | Simon Lewis.” the Guardian, August 7, 2018.

How Universal Basic Income and Rewilding Could Save the Planet | Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin.” the Guardian, June 12, 2018.

Five Things You Need to Know about the Paris Climate Deal.” The Conversation. December 12, 2015.

Scientists Love to Hate Greens, Because What Greens Say Matters | Simon Lewis.” the Guardian, August 2, 2013.

How Fear of Bias Frames Climate Change Debate | Simon Lewis.” the Guardian, October 15, 2010.

A Force of Nature Our Influential Anthropocene Period | Simon Lewis.” the Guardian, July 23, 2009.

Simon Lewis: To Get the Climate Change Message across, Scientists Need Better Arguments – and More Public Protests.” the Guardian, March 10, 2009.

Simon Lewis: A Dangerous Untruth.” the Guardian, July 31, 2008.

Simon Lewis: It’s Time for a Body Count.” the Guardian, February 26, 2008.