UCL News


World's greatest environmental campaigners announced

28 November 2006

Two famous UCL alumni have been named among the top 100 green campaigners of all time in a poll celebrating ten years of the UK Environment Agency.

GK Chesterton and Mahatma Gandhi appear at numbers 52 and 81 in the list respectively. Both have been chosen because of their influential philosophies about how societies can function without causing damage to the environment.

Chesterton's articulation of 'distributivism' - a political philosophy that argues for the widest possible distribution of the means of production among the populace - led to the formation of the Distributivist League in 1926. The ideas contained within the movement have influenced more recent thinking on the environment.

Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of simple living - most effectively represented by his doctrine that people should spin their own cotton - offers a means of going through life without having a heavy impact on the environment.

The list is headed by Rachel Carson, author of 'Silent Spring', which was published in 1962. The book is widely viewed as the seminal work in the green movement - forcing people for the first time to see the environment as something we need to live alongside, rather than as something subservient to human endeavour. Also featured are well-known modern figures such as the Prince of Wales, former US Vice President Al Gore, and London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Most famous of all, however, is the man at the foot of the list. Ranked at 100 among the world's green campaigners for his carbon-free worldwide parcel distribution service… is Father Christmas.