David Fleming (Organic)

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Biographical Information

David Fleming (died in 2010)

"After reading History at Trinity College, Oxford from 1959 to 1963, he went on to work in manufacturing, marketing and financial PR before earning an MBA from Cranfield University in 1968.

"Despite being an avowed Conservative voter, he was a significant figure in the development of the UK Ecology/Green Party - his flat in Hampstead serving as its party office in the late 70s and early 80s - and urged his contemporaries to learn the language and concepts of economics in order to confound the arguments of their opponents. He practiced what he preached, and in 1979 began studies in economics at Birkbeck College, University of London, completing an MSc in 1983 and his PhD in 1988.

"But Fleming's true passion and genius was for exploring and understanding that mysterious thing ‘community', in all its disparate forms. He admired tradition and ceremony for their ability to engender cultural stability, and was a lifelong member of deep-rooted groups as diverse as the English Song and Dance Society, his local church in Hampstead, the Oxford and Cambridge Club, and ancient guild The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. He was a passionate advocate for the critical importance of pubs, and memorably, when once asked how best to improve the resilience of one's local community, he answered 'join the choir'.

"Always something of an intellectual whirlwind, Fleming found time to be Honorary Treasurer and then Chairman of the Soil Association between 1984 and 1991; to help organise ‘The Other Economic Summit' (TOES); and to edit the 1997 book The Countryside in 2097 before making a major contribution to the world's awakening to peak oil.

"'The next oil shock?', Fleming's April 1999 article for Prospect magazine, argued that the International Energy Agency's (IEA) most recent report represented a coded message, warning of an impending energy crunch with potentially profound impacts. After publication, to Fleming's surprise, Fatih Birol - the future Chief Economist of the IEA - suggested a meeting, at which Birol intimated that 'you are right... there are maybe six people in the world who understand this'. This encounter gave greater impetus to Fleming's drive to see an effective energy rationing scheme put in place. Having first published on his TEQs scheme in 1996, 2008 saw a UK Government funded pre-feasibility study into the idea, which will be followed by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil's report in January 2011.

"Yet perhaps Fleming's key focus over recent years has been the preparation of his magnum opus, Lean Logic: A Dictionary of the Future, the work that pulls the various strands of his thinking together into one cohesive vision. As those who knew him recall with sighs and smiles, his perfectionism had led to numerous delays in the publication date, but Fleming was making final preparations for publication before his death. It will now be published posthumously, thanks to the determination of the many readers Fleming asked to comment on early drafts, many of whom claim it as a key influence on their work and thought. A good example is Transition Towns movement founder Rob Hopkins, who once humbly described his own work as 'simply taking Heinberg's insights into peak oil, Holmgren on permaculture and Fleming on community resilience, rolling them together and making the whole thing comprehensible'..." [1]

Lawrence Woodward notes that: "I first met David when he became treasurer and then chairman of the Soil Association and he became a key part in its regeneration. Before that he had been a founder member, treasurer and press officer of the Ecology (later Green) party. He played a leading role in the creation of the ground breaking “The Other Economic Summit” (TOES) which led to the formation of the New Economics Foundation.

"So we had known each other for several years before he outlined to me his ideas on the “lean economy”. Both David Astor (our founding trustee) and I were captured by Fleming’s profound insights and analysis and the power of his writing. Through EFRC (as we were called than) we set up and funded The Lean Economy Initiative as a platform for his work..." [2]

"He urged friends in the green movement to learn the language and concepts of economics in order to confound the arguments of their opponents; and did so himself, completing his PhD at Birkbeck College, London, in 1988. With his close friend Jonathon Porritt, Fleming established “The Other Economic Summit” (TOES) to coincide with a meeting of the G7 countries in London. This and subsequent TOES events would lead to the establishment of a new think-tank, the New Economics Foundation...He enjoyed the company of children but never had any himself. In later years he formed a strong attachment to Miriam Polunin, a food writer, but lost her in tragic circumstances in 2005." [1]


Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch

References

  1. theecologist Dr. David Fleming: a tribute, organizational web page, accessed April 13, 2012.
  2. wholeorganicplus David Fleming, organizational web page, accessed April 13, 2012.