Tributes paid to leading ecologist


TRIBUTES HAVE been paid to the west of Ireland-based British economist, ecologist and writer Richard Douthwaite (69) who has died at his south Mayo home after an illness.

Green Party leader and former minister for energy Eamon Ryan described him yesterday as “an intellectual cornerstone for the environmental movement in Ireland” during the past two decades.

Irish economic, social and environmental think tank Feasta (the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability) said it would miss his “unique and far-ranging intellect, the clarity of his thought and writing, his warmth and his laughter”. Feasta, which Mr Douthwaite helped to found, said it was receiving tributes to him from around the world on its website, reflecting the extent of his influence.

Mr Douthwaite studied engineering and subsequently economics, and was a government statistician in Montserrat in the Caribbean before he moved to Ireland, where he wrote and campaigned about climate and energy issues.

He forecast the global economic crisis long before it occurred in The Growth Illusion: How Economic Growth Enriched the Few, Impoverished the Many and Endangered the Planet(1992) – his first of a number of books.

He was also author of Short Circuit(1996), which outlined how communities could make themselves more independent of global economic instability, and The Ecology of Money(1999), which recommended different currencies for different purposes.

Diagnosed with cancer, he kept working and one his colleagues noted yesterday that the title chapter for a new book he had just jointly authored was “Time for some optimism about the climate crisis”.