The ecological debate has taken a distinct turn during the last two years. The ecological campaign began as a radical offshoot from the older nature conservation movement and has never been able to quite rid itself of the suspicion that it was more interested in the survival of some subspecies of fox than in the survival of starving millions of human beings. Other symptoms of the tendency in question were the resentment several of its authors held against the mere concept of “environment” as being typically man-centered, and their obvious resolve not only to halt the much advertised “population explosion” but to reduce the earth’s population considerably (in the case of Britain by one-third) in order to allow the rest to return to a life of immediate correspondence with and enjoyment of nature.

Extremes like these set apart, the ecological uproar of recent years has rightly met with the applause and support of a vast number of people who feel that man is not meant to become a natural invalid and who certainly sympathize with the slogan coined in over-populated Europe: man has an inborn need for a quiet house and fishing water.

In 1972 Dennis Meadows’s book The Limits of Growth somewhat marked the apex of this environment-oriented phase of debate. His passionate call for overall zero growth, though, particularly challenged the sociologists who with fierce resentment pointed out that this would mean the stabilization of present prerogatives: affluence for the rich, and poverty for the poor forever.

The second report to the Club of Rome—that high-powered body of top scientists and big-business strategists—written by Mesarovic and Pestel for its Berlin session in October last year ...

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