1972 was an extraordinary year - the year The Environment hit the zietgiest.
So what did you do in seventy two?
Did you follow the Blueprint or stand with the PEOPLE?
Was Street Farming your bag, or Appropriate Tech?
Were you Vanguard or Fundo when the movement divided?
Did you hug the trunk of a tree or stand on a pillar?
Did you vote for your choice, or were you Saving the Whale,
Embracing the Base and cutting the wire?
Did you look through the hole in the sky or your shoe?
Know the use of the wrench and the spike in the tree?
Did you travel by bike or go with the convoy
To Reclaim the Streets and put fear in The Man?
In tunnel or tree or locked to the gate, what was your motive and what did you do?
Was it Coal not the dole, and did you Tell Sid as they sold off our silver and stole all our land?
And at the high water did you really believe
Another world possible, having planted the seed?
Tell us your story; your history is true.
Don't let them gloss over the things we can do.
Wrote that a few years ago to promote the green-history project, but now the 50th anniversary is here.
The "Blueprint for Survival" issue of The Ecologist hit the streets in January and set out in detail the potential ecological, resource and climate crises that the world was headed for; and then proceeded to propose radical steps that could be taken to avoid that fate. It caused quite a stir with questions and debates in parliament and Movement for Survival groups springing up across the country.
In June the UN held its first global environment conference in Stockholm - the "Conference on the Human [sic] Environment". The precursor of the COP series which have continued to kick the can down the road right up until last December in Glasgow.
Later in the summer "Limits to Growth" was published. The book of a report to the Club of Rome think tank, which used early computer modelling to predict that if effective action (à la Blueprint) wasn’t taken (as it hasn’t been) we’d be exactly where we are today. Resource depletion, ecological decay, climate change, pollution, and conflict were all foreseen – but those we allowed to lead us failed in their duty to address these issues...
Even that failure was predicted back in '72, with a general recognition in the alternative movement that had sprung from 60's activism that systemic change, which was required, could not be achieved by or within the existing system. What was needed was a different way of working, a different way of thinking, a different consciousness.
These are lessons that we would do well to reflect on today so that today’s activists don’t spend another 50 years protesting at the system rather than replacing it.
System change now, means revolution now.