November 19, 2017

A Blueprint for Survival – Preface

Preface: A Blueprint for Survival.

The Blueprint occupied the entire issue of The Ecologist Vol. 2 No. 1, January 1972, in advance of the world’s first Environment Summit (the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment, in Stockholm).

The principal authors were Edward Goldsmith and Robert Allen, with additional help from Michael Allaby, John Davoll, and Sam Lawrence.

So great was demand for A Blueprint for Survival that it was republished in book form later that year by Penguin Books, on 14 September 1972.

This document has been drawn up by a small team of people, all of whom, in different capacities, are professionally involved in the study of global environmental problems.

Four considerations have prompted us to do this:

  1. An examination of the relevant information available has impressed upon us the extreme gravity of the global situation today. For, if current trends are allowed to persist, the breakdown of society and the irreversible disruption of the life-support systems on this planet, possibly by the end of the century, certainly within the lifetimes of our children, are inevitable.
  2. Governments, and ours is no exception, are either refusing to face the relevant facts, or are briefing their scientists in such a way that their seriousness is played down. Whatever the reasons, no corrective measures of any consequence are being undertaken.
  3. This situation has already prompted the formation of the Club of Rome, a group of scientists and industrialists from many countries, which is currently trying to persuade governments, industrial leaders and trade unions throughout the world to face these facts and to take appropriate action while there is yet time. It must now give rise to a national movement to act at a national level, and if need be to assume political status and contest the next general election. It is hoped that such an example will be emulated in other countries, thereby giving rise to an international movement, complementing the invaluable work being done by the Club of Rome.
  4. Such a movement cannot hope to succeed unless it has previously formulated a new philosophy of life, whose goals can be achieved without destroying the environment, and a precise and comprehensive programme for bringing about the sort of society in which it can be implemented.

This we have tried to do, and our Blueprint for Survival heralds the formation of the Movement for Survival and, it is hoped, the dawn of a new age in which Man will learn to live with the rest of Nature rather than against it.

The Ecologist

Edward Goldsmith, Robert Allen, Michael Allaby, John Davoll, Sam Lawrence.


We would like to acknowledge the valuable comments contributed by Gerald Leach, The Rt. Rev. Hugh Montefiore, Brian Johnson and John Papworth.

We are grateful to

  • Potomac Associates, Washington DC, for permission to reproduce a graph from their forthcoming book The Limits of Growth by Dennis Meadows;
  • to the MIT Press for permission to use a number of tables and to quote extensively from their book Man’s Impact on the Global Environment: the Study of Critical Environmental Problems (SCEP);
  • to Pemberton Books for permission to reproduce a graph from their book Population and Liberty by Jack Parsons;
  • to Collier-MacMillan for permission to reproduce two tables from their book Too Many by Georg Borgstrom;
  • to Tom Stacey for permission to quote extensively from his book Can Britain Survive?, edited by Edward Goldsmith.

Parts of the Introduction and “Towards the Stable Society”, notably those sections on stabilising the population and on creating a new social system, have been adapted from The Fall of Man by Robert Allen (to be published later this year [1972] by Allen Lane, The Penguin Press) by permission of author and publisher.

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Statement of Support

The undersigned, without endorsing every detail, fully support the basic principles embodied in the Blueprint for Survival which follows both in respect of the analysis of the problems

  • Prof. Don Arthur, MSC PhD DSC FIBiOI, Professor of Zoology, King’s College, London.
  • Prof. D. Bryce-Smith, DSC. Professor of Organic Chemistry, University of Reading.
  • Prof. C. F. Cornford, Hon ARCA, Royal College of Art, London.
  • Sir Frank Fraser Darling.
  • Prof. G. W. Dimbleby, BSc MA DPhil, Professor of Human Environment, Institute of Archaeology, London.
  • Prof. George Dunnet, BSc PhD, Professor of Zoology, University of Aberdeen.
  • Dr. P. N. Edmunds, BSc MD MRCPath, Dept. of Bacteriology, Fife District Laboratory.
  • Prof. R. W. Edwards, DSC FIBiol, Professor of Applied Biology, University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology.
  • Dr. S. R. Eyre, BSc, phD, Dept. of Geography, University of Leeds.
  • Prof. Douglas Falconer, BSc PhD FIBiol, Professor of Genetics, University of Edinburgh.
  • Prof. John Friend, BSc PhD FIBiol. Professor of Botany, University of Hull.
  • Prof. F. W. Grimes,CBE DLitt FFA FMA. Institute of Archaeology, University of London.
  • Prof. John Hawthorn, BSc PhD FRSE ERIC FIFST, Professor of Food Science, University of Strathclyde.
  • Sir Peter Medawar, CH FRS, Nobel Prize Laureate, Medical Research Council, Former Director of MRC.
  • Prof. G. Melvyn Howe, MSC PhD, Professor of Geography, University of Strathclyde.
  • Sir Julian Huxley, FRS.
  • Dr. David Lack, DSC FRS, Reader in Ornithology, Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, University of Oxford.
  • Dr. J. P. Lester, British Medical Association.
  • Dr. John A. Loraine, DSC MB PhD FRCPEd, Director MRC Clinical Endocrinology Unit, Edinburgh.
  • Diana G. M. Loraine.
  • Dr. Aubrey Manning, BSC DPhiI. Reader in Zoology, University of Edinburgh.
  • Prof. Vincent Marks, Prof. of Biology, University of Surrey.
  • Prof. Ivor Mills, PhD MD FRCP, Professor of Medicine, Dept. of Investigative Medicine, University of Cambridge.
  • Dr. E. Mishan, PhD, Reader in Economics, London School of Economics, and Professor of Economics, American University, Washington.
  • Prof. P. J. Newbould, BA PhD FIBioI, Professor of Biology, The New University of Ulster.
  • Prof. The Marquess Of Queensberry, Hon Des RCA MSIA, Royal College of Art, London.
  • Prof. F0rbes W. Robertson, PhD DSC FIBiOI, Professor of Genetics, University of Aberdeen.
  • Prof. W. A. Robson, BScEcon LLM PhD DLitt de L’Universitè, Professor Emeritus in Public Administration, London School of Economics.
  • Dr. J. Rose, MSc PhD FIL FRIC, Director, Institute of Environmental Sciences, and Editor, International Journal of Environmental Sciences.
  • Sir Edward Salisbury, FRS.
  • Dr. R. Scorer, MA PhD FRSH FIMA, Imperial College London and member of the Clean Air Council.
  • Peter Scott, CBE DSC LID, Hon. Director the Wild Fowl Trust.
  • Dr. Malcolm Slesser, BSC phD, Dept. of Pure and Applied Chemistry, University of Strathclyde.
  • Prof. C. H. Waddington, CBE FRS, Professor of Animal Genetics, University of Edinburgh.
  • Dr. A. Watson, RSE. DSc PhD FRSE.
  • Prof. V. C. Wynne-Edwards, FRS, Regius Professor of Natural History, University of Aberdeen and Chairman, Natural Environment Research Council.


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