|Former editors||Zac Goldsmith, Andrew Wasley|
|First issue||July 1970|
Vol. 39, No. 6
The Ecologist is the title of a British environmental journal, then magazine, that was published from 1970 to 2009. Founded by Edward Goldsmith, it addressed a wide range of environmental subjects and promoted an ecological systems thinking approach through its news stories, investigations and opinion articles. 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. 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. The Ecologist was based in London.
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.
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.
On April 8, 2009, the Ecologist announced 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 http://www.theecologist.org. 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. The Ecologist has also continued to publish online with new articles added daily.
In 1972, the Ecologist published 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, 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.
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, Peter Bunyard, Patrick McCully , Sarah Sexton, Simon Fairlie, Paul Kingsnorth (deputy editor), Malcolm Tait (managing 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 advisor to Conservative leader David Cameron's Quality of Life Policy Group, 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.
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, Chris Busby & Georgina Downs.
In its magazine format, The Ecologist had an average circulation of 20,000 per issue. 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 page at ‘The Ecologist – Official Page’ with 164,650 "likes" and a Twitter account at ‘the_ecologist’ with over 90,000 followers.
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.
- Oliver Tickell Appointed as Editor of The Ecologist
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- Bill Bigelow; Bob Peterson (1 January 2002). Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World. Rethinking Schools. p. 380. ISBN 978-0-942961-28-7. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
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- The Ecologist
- The Ecologist Archive – an archive of past issues including A Blueprint for Survival (January 1972 issue) and the July 1999 issue.
- Edward Goldsmith Ecologist articles – articles written by Edward Goldsmith for The Ecologist listed in chronological order on his personal website.
- Zac Goldsmith official page
- Zac Goldsmith, "Why The Ecologist has gone online," TheEcologist.org, April 9, 2009.
- webpage for The Ecologist Film Unit (EFU)
- Ecostorm website
- Teddy Goldsmith – Daily Telegraph obituary