ABSTRACT

The ecological movement in western Europe is undoubtedly a child of the cumulative postindustrial crisis which has settled on the continent over recent decades. This ‘crisis’ followed on from the political impact and economic repercussions of the oil price shocks of the seventies which disturbed the political landscape. The emergence of Green parties mirrored the growing disquiet within the political establishment itself and, beyond that, of publics increasingly concerned with both the negative consequences of three postwar decades of continuous economic growth, followed by the more recent threat of economic recession. The Club of Rome Report of 1972 - “The Limits to Growth” 1 - captured this newfound ambivalence about materialism. The Report’s expression of unease marked a watershed. It questioned past nostrums of exponential growth and rejected the complacency associated with them This concern was reinforced by a growing distaste in some quarters - on the political left and among the young particularly - with the West’s increasing strategic reliance on nuclear weapons. A parallel concern was with the growing dependence on nuclear energy for peaceful industrial purposes.