History of Environmental Thought


In my view, the history of environmental thought will be the most important feature of historical exegesis in the future. It deals with very large, conserved, physical forces and quantities that are bound to mould and constrain the development of humanity. It is fundamentally obvious and essentially rather simple, and it will perhaps astonish our descendants that we paid it so little attention.

Here is a presentation I gave in Sweden as part of the 40th anniversary of the UN Conference on the Human Environment in 1972, during which I ran an exhibition of environmental technology.

UNCHE after 40 years 2012 (ppt)

A more detailed take is

The Road to the Mainstream 2000 (doc)

....which is surprisingly optimistic. Contrast the view 14 years later:

How Did We Get Here? 2014 (ppt)

Much the same material is interpreted in terms of polarised stories or narratives, with attempts to see the matter from both 'sides':

Stories of the Future 2008 (doc)

More specifically, I and an old friend and comrade-in-arms, Godfrey Boyle, held a conference to mark the 40th anniversary of the concept of 'Alternative Technology'. Here are some background notes, chewing some fat about our shared history:

A Conversation with Godfrey Boyle 2012 (doc)

More specifically still, the history of CAT is the subject of a substantial programme of work spanning several years, and links will be provided. In the meantime, here is an account from 2001, with notes. This represents the 'glory days' largely responsible for the enduring myth of CAT as a heroic powerhouse of alternative innovation in every direction. And in many ways, it was.  The presentation is in two parts to fit the size limits of the web site program.

CAT Show Part 1 2001 (ppt)

CAT Show Part 2 2001 (ppt)

The final item has historical interest because it represents the organisation grappling with a classic environmental problem. Such issues cropped up all the time.

The IGER Affair 2001 (doc)