The Ecologist

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The Ecologist.jpg
Founder(s)Edward Goldsmith

The Ecologist is the title of a British environmental journal, then magazine, that was published from 1970 to 2009. Founded in 1970 by Edward Goldsmith, the older brother of billionaire Sir James Goldsmith, it addressed a wide range of environmental subjects and promoted an ecological systems thinking approach through its news stories, investigations and opinion articles.[1]

The Ecologist encouraged its readers to tackle global issues on a local scale. After cessation of its print edition in July 2009, The Ecologist continued as an online magazine.[2] In mid-2012, it merged with Resurgence magazine, edited by Satish Kumar, with the first issue of the new Resurgence & Ecologist appearing in print in September 2012.[3]

Announcing the appointment of a new editor of The Ecologist in October 2013, Satish Kumar said:

"We are delighted that Oliver Tickell has accepted the role of editor of The Ecologist. He is a great writer, committed to ecological issues and will bring tremendous energy to The Ecologist website."

Oliver Tickell responded:

"I am very excited to be taking on this role. The Resurgence Trust is a fantastic place for The Ecologist to be. I have been reading The Ecologist since the 1980s and am ever-mindful of its values and principles. My aim is to manifest those values in a different media landscape and I particularly want to make the website more interactive so it becomes a focus for ideas and debate serving the green movement."[4]


The Ecologist emerged from the first wave of environmental awareness that followed the seminal book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, which highlighted the dangers of bio-accumulative pesticides within food chains, and that culminated in the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment at Stockholm in 1972. This period also saw the establishment of leading environmental organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

The Ecologist was created in 1970 by Edward Goldsmith as a forum for himself and other academics to publish papers that were deemed too radical to be published in other magazines or the mainstream press. The Ecologist progressed from a small academic journal with an initial circulation of only 400, to one of the world’s leading environmental affairs magazines with monthly sales (including subscriptions and newsstand) of 20,000.[5]

As the magazine grew, its coverage became broader and its style more journalistic. The Ecologist covered topics including food, climate change, news, corporate affairs, chain stores, chemicals, pesticides and the corporatisation of the mass media. It was accused of being both left and right wing in its agenda, but did not follow the doctrine of any specific movement. It claimed to help readers ‘rethink basic assumptions’ about the world.

Monsanto edition pulped by printers

Zac Goldsmith devoted the October 1998 edition of The Ecologist to exposé articles about Monsanto.

The day before the October issue was to be released, Goldsmith received an unexpected call. Penwells, The Ecologist's printer for the past 25 years, expressed concern about the content of the issue. Under British law, a printer can be held liable for distributing libellous material. Goldsmith assured Penwells that the new issue had been thoroughly checked. He reminded the printer that The Ecologist had never been sued in 29 years.

The following day, Penwells asked The Ecologist to send a letter to Monsanto's lawyers requesting that if the issue were considered libellous, Monsanto would agree to sue only the editors, editorial board, and owners. Monsanto refused to agree. The next day, Penwells shredded 14,000 copies of The Ecologist.

In the end, the edition was printed by another printer.[6]

Relaunching solely online

On April 8, 2009, the Ecologist announced[7] that it was relaunching solely online and that the July issue would be its last print edition. The website launched on June 19, 2009 at Publication of The Ecologist's online, monthly newsletters ceased with the May 2012 issue.

In June 2012 The Ecologist merged with Resurgence Magazine. A new, merged Resurgence & Ecologist print publication appeared in September 2012.[8] The Ecologist has also continued to publish online with new articles added daily.

Publishing landmarks

A key landmark in The Ecologist’s history was the 1972 publication of A Blueprint for Survival (1972), to which an entire issue was dedicated. Writing in the Guardian newspaper, former contributor Fred Pearce described it as "a radical green manifesto that went on to sell 750,000 copies and kept the magazine financially afloat for years." A recommendation of the Blueprint led directly to the creation of the People Party which became the Ecology Party and then the Green Party (UK).

A Blueprint for Survival follows through the consequences of what happens when humans disrupt the ecosystems in which they exist. It explains that when these systems are disrupted, they alter other ecosystems all over the world. Written in an age before climate change was understood, A Blueprint for Survival stands as one of the earliest forecasts of many of the environmental problems the world faces today.

In the 'Monsanto' issue of September 1998, The Ecologist assembled a selection of articles critical of agri-business giant, Monsanto’s, environmental record. The Ecologist's printing firm at the time, Penwells,[9] feared libel litigation from Monsanto and pulped the 14,000 copies of the edition. The issue was ultimately printed by a small London printer and went on to become the most-sold issue of The Ecologist ever.

The 1998 Cancer issue discussed the human influences on the increasing number of cancer cases and questioned the views of Sir Richard Doll, who was then seen as an expert in the field. The Ecologist was threatened with legal action for running this story.

The April 2004 edition dedicated a special section to the Slow Food[10] movement, which criticised the health and environmental impacts of fast-food culture, and espoused a ‘slower’ alternative.

Uranium and Lockerbie

Private Eye taking The Ecologist to task

Marking the 25th anniversary of the December 1988 Lockerbie bombing, The Ecologist published in January 2014 an article entitled "Flight 103: it was the Uranium" with this introduction:

"Mystery continues to surround the 1988 downing of Pan Am Flight 103 at Lockerbie - who did it, how, and why? After 25 years study of the topic Patrick Haseldine reveals the shocking truth."[11]

The article which directly challenged the Lockerbie Official Narrative quickly became controversial. Lockerbie author, journalist and film researcher John Ashton reacted strongly in the January 2014 edition of Private Eye magazine:

"Most hacks and news organisations have long blocked or junked rants from the Lockerbie-bombing conspiracy theorist Patrick Haseldine. Not so The Ecologist magazine.
"Oliver Tickell, the new editor, has just published 'the shocking truth' of Lockerbie by the man who styles himself 'Emeritus Professor of Lockerbie Studies'. Haselnut has long claimed that Pan Am 103 was blown up by the apartheid South African government in order to kill an unfortunate Swedish passenger, Bernt Carlsson, the UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Commissioner for Namibia."[12]

Israel and the Golan Heights

Israel's exploitation of wind energy in the illegally annexed Golan Heights

On 15 November 2015, The Ecologist reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had taken advantage of a private meeting the previous week with Barack Obama - their first in 13 months - to raise the possibility of dismembering Syria. According to Israeli officials, Netanyahu indicated that Washington should give its belated blessing to Israel's illegal annexation in 1981 of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria during the 1967 war.

Afek, an Israeli subsidiary of US oil company Genie Energy, announced in October 2015 that it had found considerable reserves of oil under the Golan. Genie's chief geologist in Israel, Yuval Bartov, said the company believed the reservoir had the "potential of billions of barrels". International law experts say any proceeds from such a find in the Golan should revert to Syria, but Israel has so far indicated it will ignore its legal obligations.

The Israeli energy and water ministry has licensed Afek to drill 10 experimental wells over three years in a 400-square kilometre area, about a third of the Golan's total territory. Afek claims that the discoveries it has identified in its first year could make Israel energy independent, satisfying Israel's consumption of 100 million barrels a year for the foreseeable future. Were the US to recognise Israel's illegal annexation of the Golan, it would likely clear the way for Israel to plunder any economically viable reserves located there.[13]

Kuenssberg and Corbyn

Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC's perspicacious political editor, put the killer question

Editor Oliver Tickell reported in November 2015 that right-wing Labour MPs backed by the commercially-controlled media were intent on destroying Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. (So here's the plan: seize on any perceived weakness and attack, attack, attack. Hit hard, hit often, in public and in private. Backed up by the entire spectrum of Britain's 'mainstream' media who are only to happy to join those Labour MPs in putting the boot in. And the objective is clear: kill Corbyn. Wipe him out. Discredit him so utterly that not only will MPs and media unite against him, but even his supporters in the wider Labour Party will lose faith and either leave the party in disgust, or refuse to re-elect him after the leadership challenge they are building up to.)

On 16 November 2015, the BBC's perspicacious political editor Laura Kuenssberg waded in just three days after the November 2015 Paris attacks with a lopsided 9-minute interview which she concluded by asking Jeremy Corbyn whether he would be happy to order police or military to shoot to kill if there were a similar attack on UK streets.[14] He replied:

"I'm not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often can be counterproductive. I think you have to have security that prevents people firing off weapons where you can, there are various degrees for doing things as we know. But the idea you end up with a war on the streets is not a good thing."[15]

Labour sees green

Jeremy Corbyn's green vision for Britain

In August 2015, Jeremy Corbyn told The Ecologist:

The Labour movement and environmental movement are natural allies.

We are fighting for the same thing: for society to be run in our collective interests and those of our protecting our planet.

Promoting the well being of our planet, its people and ecosystems must be at the heart of the Labour Party's vision of a fairer, more prosperous future.[16]

On 11 May 2017, Labour's draft manifesto for the UK/2017 General Election was leaked to selected media outlets including The Ecologist, which published an article entitled "Corbyn's green vision wins: leaked manifesto promises huge environmental gains" highlighting the manifesto's seven green promises:

1. A ban on fracking;

2. A clean energy policy based on renewables and efficiency;

3. No commitment to new nuclear power;

4. To meet our Paris Agreement obligations on climate;

5. To give companies a legal obligation to protect the environment;

6. To retain all EU environment laws post-Brexit; and,

7. Multilateral nuclear disarmament.[17]

Key people

Edward Goldsmith, founder of The Ecologist, was born in 1928 in Paris and was the first major influence on the publication. Having studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics, he served in the military and within a variety of different business ventures.

Throughout his life he has taken on the roles of businessman, campaigner, lecturer, writer, editor and publisher. With the inheritance left to him by his father, Major Frank Goldsmith, Edward fulfilled his idea of creating a magazine which doubled as a platform for academic writers who were concerned about the world around them. Thirty-nine years later The Ecologist was still a major source of information on issues such as climate change, globalisation and sustainable economics. Edward Goldsmith was the editor from its foundation in 1970 until 1990, and then again from 1997 until 1998 whilst supporting his nephew, Zac Goldsmith.

Former editors include Nicholas Hildyard, Sarah Sexton, Simon Fairlie, Peter Bunyard, Sarah Sexton, Paul Kingsnorth (deputy editor), Harry Ram (managing editor), Jeremy Smith and Pat Thomas.

When Hildyard left in 1997, Edward Goldsmith’s initial intention was that the Board of the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), directed by Helena Norberg-Hodge, should manage The Ecologist. Instead, Zac Goldsmith, who was then working for ISEC, became editor, as the other members of ISEC were occupied with other projects.

Zac Goldsmith, born in 1975, joined at 22 years old as an intern before becoming editor of The Ecologist.

Under Zac Goldsmith’s editorship a more diversified readership developed. In the 10 years that he was editor he developed a more conventional looking publication that could compete visually with other current affairs titles, while still maintaining its diverse content. In 2005 he became adviser to Conservative leader David Cameron's Quality of Life Policy Group,[18] and is now a Member of Parliament for Richmond. His influence continued in supporting the Ecologist financially but Goldsmith stepped down as editor in June 2007, saying, "The magazine has to remain impartial and feel free to have a go at the Government and at the Conservatives. So I can't both be the editor and a parliamentary candidate." He remained as Chairman and Director of The Ecologist.[19]

Contributors to The Ecologist included Jonathon Porritt, Mark Lynas, Paul Kingsnorth, who was the magazine's deputy editor from 1999 to 2001, Tom Hodgkinson, Joss Garman & Georgina Downs.

Andrew Wasley, who joined the organisation in 2010, edited The Ecologist's website and newsletters.[20] The current website editor is Oliver Tickell, following his appointment in October 2013.


In its magazine format, The Ecologist had an average circulation of 20,000 per issue.[5] In its online incarnation, in addition to the website there was a weekly e-newsletter and a monthly subscriber PDF newsletter, the last issue of which was published in May 2012. The Ecologist has a Facebook[21] page at ‘The Ecologist – Official Page’ with 164,650 "likes" and a Twitter[22] account at ‘the_ecologist’ with over 90,000 followers.

Editorial content

While The Ecologist did not adhere to any particular movements, its influence on anti-globalisation groups could be seen throughout its history in advocating the principle of localisation, with an emphasis on building community resilience in the face of peak oil and climate change while reducing food and other commodity supply chains. According to its blurb, the Resurgence & Ecologist magazine ("publishing to inspire and inform for nearly 50 years") says:

Inside each issue you'll find cutting-edge articles on environmental, ethical and social issues, together with stunning art, poetry and reviews. Recent contributors include Zac Goldsmith, Mary Robinson, Paul Kingsnorth, Caroline Lucas, Rowan Williams, Jane Davidson, Michael Morpurgo and many more...


Employees on Wikispooks

Oliver TickellContributing EditorJuly 2016
Oliver TickellEditorOctober 2013June 2016


Documents sourced from The Ecologist

TitleTypeSubject(s)Publication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Election 2017: finally, a real choice for Britain's votersArticleCorporate media
Theresa May
Jeremy Corbyn
Parliamentary Labour Party
Mervyn King
2016 EU Referendum
UK/General election/2017
17 May 2017Raoul MartinezNo wonder the billionaire-owned media are attacking Jeremy Corbyn with everything they've got. But we the people can still win.
Document:Gaza - is annexation Israel's 'permanent solution'ArticleGaza
Gaza War 2014
2018 Gaza Massacre
31 July 2014Oliver TickellThe UN Security Council stands supine, knowing that the US will veto any attempt to hold Israel and its military accountable. We are not in the "realm of accountability", but precisely where we have always been as far as Israel's crimes are concerned - in the realm of impunity.
Document:Pan Am Flight 103: It was the UraniumarticlePan Am Flight 103
Margaret Thatcher
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi
Bernt Carlsson
Craig Williamson
David Cameron
Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act
Rössing Uranium Mine
Martti Ahtisaari
United Nations Commissioner for Namibia
Dag Hammarskjöld
The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds
De Beers
South Africa
Rio Tinto Group
South West Africa People's Organisation
United Nations Transition Assistance Group
David Carter
Hammarskjöld Commission
New York Accords
United Nations Council for Namibia
Socialist International
South African Defence Force
Nicky Oppenheimer
6 January 2014Patrick HaseldineFollowing Bernt Carlsson's untimely death in the Lockerbie bombing, the UN Council for Namibia inexplicably dropped the case against Britain's URENCO for illegally importing yellowcake from the Rössing Uranium Mine in Namibia.
Document:Shooting to kill Corbyn - the coup is onArticleLabour Party
Jeremy Corbyn
Laura Kuenssberg
18 November 2015Oliver TickellPublished over six months before the attempted Corbyn coup actually started - prescient or what?
Document:The Theresa May government's nuclear obsession is a betrayal of democracyArticleTheresa May
Jeremy Corbyn
Small modular reactor
19 December 2017Oliver TickellSo here's the key question: how can a government that has declared in its election manifesto its commitment to delivering the lowest cost power in Europe, and its utter impartiality in deciding between any one power generation technology over any other, justify an obsessively pro-nuclear energy policy that could land every household in Britain with a £12,600 nuclear tax?
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  15. Document:Shooting to kill Corbyn - the coup is on
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External links