The Club of Rome and CACOR

Recollections by J. Rennie Whitehead

The Canadian Association for the Club of Rome:
Personal Recollections of its History

Jump to: A Brief History of the Club of Rome

Note: these memoirs were written mainly for the information of members of the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome and naturally emphasise the role of Canadians. They are drawn only from the memory of one individual who happened to be there practically from the beginning. They do not profess to present a comprehensive or objective history of CACOR or the Club of Rome.

Dr. Whitehead is a physicist, electronics engineer, consultant in science policy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has been a member of the Club of Rome since its formal incorporation in 1970. He was one of the founders of the Canadian Association of the Club of Rome (CACOR) in the period 1971 to 1974 and Chairman of the Board from 1976 to 1979. He was the editor of a CACOR Newsletter from 1971-1973 and has edited and desk-top-published the new series of CACOR Newsletters since 1987 and the Proceedings since their introduction in 1992. He relinquished the editorial and publishing activities in 1999. (See memoirs.)


The Canadian Association for the Club of Rome was created in the early 1970s as national parallel to the international Club of Rome.

Very briefly, the ideas underlying the establishment of the Club of Rome itself were launched by Aurelio Peccei, an Italian industrialist who voiced his concerns regarding overpopulation, gross abuse and desecration of the environment and many other global problems with which we are only too familiar today. The initiative for a renewed, systematic effort to address the issues raised came to fruition as a result of Peccei's collaboration with Alexander King, a distinguished English chemist, who was at the time Director General of Science and Education of OECD, in Paris. The inaugural meeting of Peccei and King with like-minded international colleagues was held in 1968 at the Academia Lincei in Rome where the group was spontaneously named "The Club of Rome".

Early Links with Canada

Aurelio Peccei had first visited Canada in June 1969 with Alex King for preliminary discussions about the possible participation of Canadians in the Club of Rome.. Informal meetings were arranged initially with a few interested individuals and with the Prime Minister and his staff. On their return to Europe the proponents of the Club of Rome met in Alpbach to discuss the formulation of a "problematique" – a list of global problems of concern to them. This eventually led to a meeting in Vienna in December of that year at which it was decided to incorporate the Club of Rome formally as a non-profit organization

Peccei’s next visit to Canada followed very soon, He was again accompanied by Alex King. The only record of that visit to hand is in a treasured copy of his book The Chasm Ahead, inscribed with the words: To Rennie Whitehead, as a token of deep appreciation and in the hope that the dreams we are designing may come true in a very near future, January 5th 1970. Aurelio Peccei, which he presented during his stay in our home. Peccei and King were introduced to a number of individuals inside and outside government. Alex King was no stranger to Canada and he as well as Peccei arranged a number of independent informal meetings with people he already knew in order to get a feel for the kind of moral and financial support that might be forthcoming for a program designed to address the global problems which had been identified..

On the occasion of this visit, a small dinner meeting for King and Peccei with Prime Minister Trudeau was also arranged. It was evident that Trudeau already shared some of their concerns about the future and was in sympathy with the aims of the Club.

After dinner, Trudeau led a prolonged discussion of the problems perceived by Peccei and King and the role of a Club of Rome. The group included; among others: Marc Lalonde, the Prime Minister's Principal Secretary at the time, who later became a Minister in the Federal Government of Canada; Michael Pitfield, Senator Maurice Lamontagne, who established the Senate Committee on Science Policy; Jean Chrétien, later to become Prime Minister of Canada; Pierre Gendron, President of the Pulp and Paper Research Association in Montreal; and Bill Stadelman, President of the Ontario Research Foundation; and some others.

It may be of interest to note that it was about this time, a month or so after the Club of Rome was incorporated, that Gendron, Stadelman, Lamontagne and the Author became the first Canadian Members of the Club of Rome. (Fritz Böttcher of the Netherlands, who held a similar position in his own country to that of the Author in Canada, became a member about the same time).

During their visit to Canada, Peccei and King also had lunch at Rideau Hall with Governor General Michener who showed himself extremely interested in the objectives of the Club of Rome. This resulted in his becoming a very active member of the Board of Directors of CACOR a few years later, after his term expired at Rideau Hall. The Board of Directors often met in his offices in Toronto in the mid-1970s. The meetings in Ottawa greatly helped to smooth the way when, in the following years, government support was sought for the sponsorship of certain Club of Rome projects, and to host a full meeting of the international Club of Rome (Montebello, 1971)

The Canadian Association

From the beginning, the founders of the Club of Rome had encouraged the idea of developing parallel national, regional and local organizations with similar aims and having a loose, independent relationship with the Club of Rome itself and with each other. In view of Canada’s close relationships with Peccei, King and the Club of Rome, it is not surprising that Canada was one of the first countries to establish a National Association. So a Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR) began to exist, albeit informally, in January 1970.

Canada and Japan, as two of the first countries to create such "Associations for the Club of Rome", were also quite naturally among the first countries to host full meetings of the Club of Rome (Canada in 1971 and Japan in 1972).

While the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR) existed informally in the early 1970s, it was not incorporated until 1974. It was the need to collect membership fees to defray even the minimum costs of meetings that led to the decision to apply for incorporation as a non-profit organization in Canada.


The Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR) was formally created at an "organizational meeting" on 2-3 May, 1974. The following are extracts from the Proceedings of that meeting:

"At the invitation of Canadian Members of the Club of Rome, a group of interested individuals assembled at the Airport Hotel, Toronto, Ontario on 2-3 May, 1974, where it was decided to form the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome."

"The six Canadian Members of the Club of Rome (C of R) considered that an association for the Club of Rome should be formed in Canada......... Discussions led to the decision to call a meeting of interested individuals for the purpose of forming a Canadian Association for the Club of Rome The program for this meeting was arranged by Dr. J. Rennie Whitehead and administrative arrangements were carried out by Mr. William Stadelman for a meeting to be held in the Airport Hilton Hotel, Toronto, on 2-3 May, 1974. Dr. Aurelio Peccei and Dr. Alexander King, Members of the Executive Committee of the Club of Rome were invited to attend."

"The meeting convened at 0930 hours under the Chairmanship of Dr. J. Rennie Whitehead who, in his opening remarks, read a letter from the Prime Minister expressing best wishes for the success of the meeting."

Aurelio Peccei and Alex King spoke to the meeting at length, describing the objectives of the Club of Rome, welcoming the Canadian initiative and pledging their support. Papers were also presented by Prof. Kimon Valaskakis, Dr. Y.G. Bajard, Prof F. Eric Burke, Mr. W.H.C. Simmonds, Prof Leon Katz, Dr. G.R. Lindsey, Mr. J. Miedzinski, Mr. John Profit and Mr. David Spurgeon. 57 people attended the meeting (see Annex 1).

The Directors who were elected at the business meeting which followed were:

  • Dr. Pierre Gendron, Chairman
  • Mr. Robert Fowler, Vice-Chairman
  • Hon. Maurice Lamontagne
  • The Rt. Hon Roland Michener, Vice-Chairman
  • Mr. Ronald S. Ritchie
  • Dr. William Stadelman
  • Dr. Robert J. Uffen, Secretary-Treasurer
  • Dr. J. Rennie Whitehead


From the beginning, the Canadian Association, like those in other countries, has been independent of and parallel to the Club itself. Its objects listed in the original Charter include the following paragraph:

"To promote study and discussion among all segments of the Canadian Public of the nature of world problems and the need to develop new policies, attitudes and courses of action to ensure a stable future for mankind and to cultivate a new humanism that will contribute to world peace, social justice and individual well-being."

A more recent Statement of Purpose reproduces the relevant part of the Charter and adds the following rationale:

"The confrontational nature of national and international life today does not encourage sober reflection. Conventional institutions are often slow and inadequate to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Society today is better geared to the demands of the electoral cycle and the near horizons of the market place with results that are often disappointing, when not actually counterproductive. There is a need for an independent effort, free from the vested interests of politics, business or even academia, to foster in decision-makers and the public a more profound understanding of global problems and a greater awareness of the need for and the implications of change."

Since that time, Associations have been established in about 28 countries, including Russia and Ukraine.. Many have been active in holding symposia, sponsoring projects and publications and, in some cases, cooperating with activities in other countries.


The Limits to Growth

The (then still informal) Canadian Association for the Club of Rome catalyzed the funding by the Canadian Government of the Montebello Meeting of the Club of Rome at which the Meadows" Limits to Growth proposals were first presented to a full meeting of members from many countries. It was an extremely successful meeting, which helped CACOR obtain government funds for other Club of Rome projects.

Beyond the Age of Waste

CACOR also arranged the funding of the travel of world experts in the course of the preparation of the Club of Rome project which resulted in the book Beyond the Age of Waste. Two distinguished members of the Club of Rome, Umberto Columbo and Dennis Gabor acted as rapporteurs at meetings of these experts in various parts of the world and wrote the book on the basis of their notes. The author participated in several of these meetings.

Catastrophe – or New Society

CACOR catalyzed some funding for a South American study Catastrophe or New Society – A Latin American Model which was ultimately published by the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa.

Forum Humanum

Aurelio Peccei was continually disappointed that so few young adults seemed to be willing to make a serious commitment to the creation of the future. In the late 1970s he decided to try to establish a new project which would fund groups of young people to develop and express their ideas on the subject. The project came to be called Forum Humanum. It foresaw the establishment of a network of research centres in which young people could discuss what futures were possible. Several meetings were held but the project was perpetually hampered by lack of funds and, ultimately by Peccei's death.

Global 2000 – Implications for Canada

In response to directive from President Carter a study entitled Global 2000 was developed in the United States to assess the probable changes in the world's population, natural resources and environment through the end of the century as a foundation for long-term planning. The Global 2000 Report to the President took 3 years to complete and was published in mid-1980.

Following the publication of that report the Canadian Association approached the Author, Gerald Barney, to develop an outside point of view of its implications for Canada. Comparisons were also to be made with certain Canadian studies. Tom de Fayer, one of the most active members of CACOR was instrumental in getting Environment Canada to take the initiative to secure the requisite funding of the research of Barney and his Associates, with contributions from other Government Departments, viz. those dealing with agriculture, industry trade and commerce as well as Statistics Canada and the Canadian Intenational Development Agency (CIDA). CACOR itself arranged additional funding from private sources to enable the work to be published in book form as Global-2000Implications for Canada. Presentation copies were produced for all the sponsors who included:

  • The Alberta Gas Trunk Line Company Limited
  • Dofasco Inc.
  • Domtar Inc.
  • The Royal Bank of Canada
  • The Seagram Company
  • Thorne Riddell & Co.
  • Canadian Pacific Ltd.

Symposia and Meetings

It is the tradition of the Canadian Association to hold an Annual Symposium on a topical theme which is frequently chosen to set Canadian issues in a global context. It is usually combined with the Annual General Meeting (AGM) that is required by statute. A list of these AGM - Symposia is given in Annex 3.

Unfortunately, mainly because of cost considerations, recent years have seen a steady decline in long-distance travel and the Association has become more and more centred on the Ottawa-Montreal-Toronto triangle and even on Ottawa itself. However the Association Luncheon Meetings, organized by Drew Wilson, which are held in Ottawa several times a year, have been increasingly successful and could form a pattern for other centres. A list of recent luncheon meetings is given in Annex 4. Meetings of the Board of Directors are held several times a year.

Newsletter and Proceedings

A CACOR newsletter was issued by directive of the Board in the first year of the association's existence. It was referred to in the minutes of the CACOR Board Meeting on 24 June, 1974, as follows. "Dr. Whitehead will prepare a newsletter reporting on the 2 May Meeting and the 24 June Meeting and any related activities". At the Board Meeting on 29 October, 1974, it was agreed that copies of CACOR newsletters would be sent to Aurelio Peccei. Several newsletters were produced in that first series.

A substantial and very successful new series of newsletters was produced by Tom de Fayer in the late 1970s until his retirement in the early 1980s.

The present series of newsletters was initiated in 1987. They are edited and produced by the author and have appeared regularly since 1987 at approximately quarterly intervals. A Proceedings, carrying longer articles than the Newsletter, was added early in 1991. It is also a quarterly production. Thanks to computer technology, the appearance of these publications has steadily improved. The increased level of discussion within CACOR is reflected in their pages.

The CACOR Newsletter and Proceedings help to keep distant members informed and able to participate in discussions, if only by mail. They were distributed to all CACOR Members, to the Chairmen of National Associations for the Club of Rome throughout the world and to the President and Secretariat of the Club of Rome. They are now (2004) on the CACOR Web Site and have very limited distribution by mail.

Recent Projects

At the Annual General Meeting of CACOR, on September 18, 1991, it was agreed that three working groups would be established to try to establish means to assist mankind in resolving the dilemma that has been called the World Problematique.

The three working groups were given the following broad mandates:

  • Working Group #1: To develop a listing of impediments to resolution of the Global Problematique.

  • Working Group #2: To develop options to overcome the impediments identified by Working Group #1

  • Working Group #3: To develop a recommended integrated plan to resolve the Problematique. This ambitious strategic plan is intended to possibly form the backbone of future submissions made by the Association to decision-making authorities.

Working Groups #1 and # 2 reported to the Annual General Meetings in 1992 and 1993. The reports were published in the CACOR Proceedings as follows:

  • Report to the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome by the Impediments Working Group #1 (Art Hunter, Ian Nalder, Ron Manchee, Alan Jones); dated 22 December, 1991. Proceedings Volume 1 Number2, March, 1992.

    ·  Optional Strategies to Address the World Problematique. A Report to the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome by the Chairman and Members of Working Group #2 (W.R. Dobson, E.W. Manning and J. Maini); Proceedings Volume 1 Number 4, October, 1992.

    The 5000 Days

    An important educational project was introduced in the University of Guelph a few years ago. It was called "The 5000 Days" because, at the time, there were approximately 5000 days left in this century. The course starts from the premise that "if present trends continue over the next two decades the world will become increasingly more crowded, more vulnerable to disruption, more polluted and less ecologically stable" The course provides the data and analyses all the main issues of the global problematiqe. It is offered to a wide range of students by distance education.

    The course is a product of the University of Guelph, Ontario and is independent of the Association. It was, however catalyzed by another very active member of CACOR, Ken Hammond. CACOR, maintains close links with the course through Ken Hammond and through Alan Watson, Director of the Arboretum and Jane Dougan, both of whom are also CACOR members 

    Current Projects

    A working group has put a great deal of effort into the definition of a computer modelling project which is now regarded as a major initiative to be launched as an administratively independent project, while still under the auspices of CACOR.

    To quote the introduction to a paper in the Proceedings No. 1.7 for September, 1993:

    ... (the Computer Modelling Project) advocates the use of global modelling tools as a means of expanding our collective capacity for perception. What is proposed is not the development of another model but the establishment of a process consisting of the design and use of modelling tools to further the explication and communication of understanding, and thereby facilitating both individual and societal action. The proposed approach builds upon previous experience using modelling as a means of communications and seeks to take advantage of scientific and technological advances of the past decades.

    The original CACOR Global Modelling Group consisted of: Bob Fletcher (Chairman), Paul Baack, Robert Hoffman, Art Hunter, Stan Isbrandt, Allan Jones, Max McConnell (Secretary), Ian Nalder and Ed Napke.

    The Future

    While the membership of the Association and its Board has changed over the years, there is a strong thread of continuity provided by a number of current members (and Board members) who actively participated in the founding meeting in 1974.

    Now that the Club of Rome itself is more highly organized there is a move towards the regimentation of the National Associations as subsidiary bodies or "chapters" of the Club itself. Such a concept might have been repugnant to Aurelio Peccei. It still remains to be seen how this idea will develop.

    Membership Fees

    The Membership Fee was set at $50 in 1974 and was not increased to $60 until 1993. It is the only source of income for general activities, including the production and mailing of the CACOR publications. There are approximately 65 members (2004). The Luncheon Meetings and the Annual Symposia are arranged to be approximately self-financing by means of a registration fee for each event. Major projects will require special funding from governments or the private sector.


    A fairly comprehensive collection of Archives of the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome is maintained in the Arboretum of the University of Guelph from which the "5000 days" project is run.

    Annex 1: Chairmen of CACOR 1974-2004

    • 1974-76: Pierre R. Gendron
    • 1976-79: J. Rennie Whitehead
    • 1979-80: W.R. Stadelman
    • 1980-83: Ronald W. Ritchie
    • 1983-84: T. Ran Ide
    • 1984-85: Michael J.R. Kirby
    • 1985-88: Beatrice Bazar
    • 1988-90: Erik Solem
    • 1990-93: C.R. (Buzz) Nixon
    • 1993-94: W.R. (Bob) Dobson
    • 1994-97: Drew Wilson
    • 1997-99: Bob Fletcher
    • 1999-....: Ed Napke

    Annex 2: Statement of Purpose

    The Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR) was established at an inaugural meeting held in Toronto in the Fall of 1973. The objects of the Corporation were then stated as follows:

    • to promote study and discussion among all segments of the Canadian public of the nature of world problems and the need to develop new policies, attitudes and courses of action to ensure a stable future for mankind; and to cultivate a new humanism that will contribute to world peace, social justice and individual well-being.

    • to stimulate and conduct study and research into problems of human well-being and future survival, and the interactions and interdependence of such problems, to better understand the workings of the world as a finite system and to suggest alternative ways to meet critical needs.

    • to assess Canada's situation and identify any particular and specific aspects of it that may affect or be affected by world problems and to determine the implications for Canada of possible world solutions; to be a catalyst in seeking solutions and in the identification of Canada's possible roles and to promote their implementation.; and:

    • in furtherance of the objects aforesaid, to solicit, receive and accept subscriptions, gifts, legacies, bequests, grants and other contributions.

    Membership of the Association was restricted to 100 individuals, many of them prominent in government, academic or business circles.

    The world has undergone drastic changes since the Club of Rome was conceived by Aurelio Peccei, in 1968 but, like the Club of Rome which it parallels, CACOR continues to encourage studies of the world problematique. In the case of the Association, it concentrates particularly on those issues that affect Canadian interests and on those global problems to which Canadian efforts can make a contribution.

    The confrontational nature of national and international life today does not encourage sober reflection. Conventional institutions are often slow and inadequate to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Society today is better geared to the demands of the electoral cycle and the near horizons of the market place, with results that are often disappointing, when not actually counterproductive. There is a need for an independent effort, free from the vested interests of politics, business, or even academia, to foster in decision-makers and the public a more profound understanding of global problems and a greater awareness of the need for and the implications of change. Therefore, the Association urges its Members and its constituency to:

    adopt a global perspective. Most of today's predicaments are beyond the capacity of one country to resolve. Issues must be examined in the full awareness of the increasing interdependence of nations

    think holistically. It is essential to seek a deeper understanding of the interactions of social, technological, resource, environmental, political and other issues.

    view issues in the long-term perspective. Encourage decision-makers to have the courage to make their short-term decisions consistent with declared long-term objectives, even if this conflicts with their efforts to stay in power or to make personal or corporate gains. Policies should not merely react to social, economic or technological pressures, but should reflect a vision of the long-term future.

    Annex 3: CACOR Annual Symposia and AGMs

    • Organizational Meeting and first Symposium 2-3 May, 1974

    • Second CACOR Symposium and AGM: May 1975:

    • Clive Simmonds Reported on "Time for a new set of goals"

    • Leon Katz proposed "An experiment regarding the sponsorship of a small meeting with philosophers, theologians and historians at which moral and ethical issues might be discussed".

    • Senator Lamontagne foresaw the creation of a "Futures Institute".

    • Bob Uffen suggested the time was ripe for the exploitation of the modelling methodology of Mesarovic and Pestel in a Canadian context.

    • Third CACOR Symposium and AGM: June76: Theme: "Long-Term Forward Planning and Consensus in Modern Society".

    • Fourth CACOR Symposium and AGM: May 1977: Theme: "The Nature of Growth in Modern Society"

    • Fifth CACOR Symposium and AGM:....April 1978: Symposium On Global Modelling.

    • Special Symposium August, 1978: "Shaping the Future" (in cooperation with other groups).

    • Sixth CACOR Symposium and AGM:....May, 1979: "Canada's Future: Emerging Options".

    • Seventh CACOR Symposium and AGM:....October 1980: "The Social Implications of Micro-Electronics".

    • Eighth CACOR Symposium and AGM: .November 1981: Global 2000 Symposium

    • Ninth CACOR AGM: April 1983 Annual General Meeting only. (Proposed Symposium in Winnipeg cancelled).

    • Tenth CACOR Symposium and AGM: September 1984: Role of Citizens" Groups, Media, etc.

    • Eleventh CACOR Symposium and AGM: 1985: Small round table AGM

    • Special Workshop-Seminar June 1986: "Global Interdependence and Foresight in Government.

    • Twelfth CACOR Symposium and AGM: Feb. 1987: Review of Club of Rome issues and their relevance to Canada.

    • Thirteenth CACOR Symposium and AGM: Dec 1987: "Energy as a Megatrend" etc.

    • Fourteenth CACOR Symposium and AGM: Dec 1988: Reports on Club of Rome activities; CACOR activities and future plans.

    • Fifteenth CACOR Symposium and AGM: Sept. 1989
      Guest Speaker: Hon. William Winegard, Minister of State for Science and Technology

    • Sixteenth CACOR Symposium and AGM June 1990:
      Guest Speaker: Hon. David MacDonald, Chairman, Commons Standing Committee on the Environment 18.

    • Seventeenth CACOR Symposium and AGM: Sept. 1991 Education: Report on 5000 Days Program. Guest Speaker: Alexander King, President Emeritus of the Club of Rome

    • Eighteenth CACOR Symposium and AGM: Sept. 1992 Reports of Project Groups; Report on Rio Symposium. Guest Speaker: Fred W. Belaire, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited

    • Nineteenth CACOR Symposium and AGM: June 1993: Reports of Project Groups; Discussion "Where We're At". Update of 5000 DAYS. Guest Speaker: Victor Urquidi, Mexican Association for the Club of Rome

    • 20th.  Anniversary CACOR Symposium and AGM: June 1994

    • 21st.  CACOR Symposium and AGM: June 1995

    • 22nd. CACOR Symposium and AGM: June 1996

    • 23rd.  CACOR Symposium and AGM: June 1997

    • 24th.  CACOR Symposium and AGM: June 1998

    • 25th.  CACOR Symposium and AGM: June 1999

    List to be completed

    Annex 4: Luncheon Meetings

    The following is a partial list of CACOR luncheon meetings that have been held over the years:

    • 30 November 1989: Speakers: George Kaye on Decision Making on Global Problems and Ambassador John McCordick on Some Thoughts on Global Problem Situations

    • 8 February 1990: Speaker: Robert J. Uffen on Where Should We Be Going? (A discussion of future policies for action regarding the World Problematique)

    • 26 March 1990: Speaker: C.R. (Buzz) Nixon on The Origins of the Problematique

    • 24 April 1990: Speaker: Lynn Burton on The Green Plan and Global 90: A National Challenge

    • 29 May 1990: Speaker: Ed Napke on Looking Past the Media's Broken Glass Image of Some Eastern Block Countries

    • 7 November 1990: Speaker: Arthur J. Cordell on Media and Messages: CACOR and the Communications Media, Past, Present and Future

    • 6 December 1990: Speaker: Jerzy A. Wojciechowsky on The Ecology of Knowledge: Will Humanity Survive the Development of Knowledge?

    • 14 February 1991: Speaker: Ian Burton on Aurelio Peccei, 1991 Version

    • 7 March 1991: Speaker: Digby J. McLaren on Global Warming: The Canadian Position

    • 11 April 1991: Speaker: Gail W. Stewart on Overcoming Impediments to Action on the Problematique: What Might Need to be Done?, with comments by Tom L. de Fayer

    • 9 January 1992: Speaker: J. A. (Art) Hunter on Report on the First Stage of the Study of the World Problematique

    • 6 February 1992: Speaker: Ian Nalder on Updating the Limits to Growth

    • 19 March 1992: Speaker: Jeremy Wright on The Economics of Sustainable Development: The Dawn of Caring

    • 22 April 1992: Speaker: Fred G. Thompson on How Do We Resolve the Future? A Participatory Exercise

    • 16 June 1992: Speaker: W. R. (Bob) Dobson on Optional Strategies for the Future: Report on the Second Stage of the Study of the World Problematique

    • 22 October 1992: Speaker: H.F. (Bob) Fletcher on Charting the Flip to Cognitive Clarity: A Further Exploration of our Perceptions of Environmental Change in the Solution of the World Problematique

    • 19 November 1992: Speaker: W.H. Clive Simmonds on A New Way for Canada: Do the Opposite

    • 19 January 1993: Speaker: N. (Fred) Németh on Population Growth: A Need for Limits

    • 24 February 1993: Speaker: Panel Presentation led by H.F. (Bob) Fletcher on Preliminary Report of the Global Modelling Project Group

    • 31 March 1993: Speaker: Jack Stagg on Nunavut: Changing the Map of Canada

    • 12 May 1993: Speaker: Peeter Kruus on The Technology/Society/Environmental Studies at Carleton University

    • 27 September 1993: Speakers: J. Rennie Whitehead on The History of the Club of Rome and CACOR and W.R. (Bob) Dobson on Outline of CACOR's Upcoming Program

    • 25 October 1993: Speaker: C. H. Geoffrey Oldham on The European Community Project on Science and Technology for the Eight Billion People in 2020

    • 22 November 1993: Speaker: Valerie Hume on Women and Sustainable Development

    • 24 January 1994: (Dinner Meeting) Speaker: Hon. Charles Caccia, former Federal Minister of the Environment

    • 21 February 1994: Speaker: Steven R. Roessler on Aspects of Current Economic Development in India

    • 28 March 1994: Speaker: John J. Collins on The Defence Science Advisory Board: Its Studies, Dealings and Concerns

    • 2 May 1994: Speaker: Ambassador Walther Lichem of the Republic of Austria on Globalization and Democratic Political Processes

    List to be completed.


    This brief history would not be complete without a tribute to the contributions of John T. Bradley to the work of the Association. He negotiated the incorporation of CACOR and, as Secretary-Treasurer for many years, became a mainstay of the Association. The Author also gratefully acknowledges the help of Tom de Fayer*, Fred Thompson, Clive Simmonds* and Drew Wilson in the course of the preparation of this article.

  • * Now deceased

  • A Brief History of the Club of Rome

    A Summary and Personal Reminiscences by J. Rennie Whitehead

    Dr. Whitehead, a physicist, electronics engineer and consultant in science policy, has been associated with the Club of Rome since its formal incorporation in 1970. He was one of the founders of the Canadian Association of the Club of Rome (CACOR), a member of the Board of Directors and a former Chairman. He edited the first series of CACOR Newsletters from 1971-1973 and has edited and desk-top published the new series of CACOR Newsletters since 1985 and the Proceedings since their introduction in 1991.

    To non-Canadian recipients of this issue it should be explained that these memoirs were written mainly for the information of members of the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome and naturally emphasise the role of Canadians. They are drawn only from the memory of one individual who happened to be there practically from the beginning. They do not profess to present a comprehensive, or objective history of the Club of Rome. That would take a great deal of research and fill many more pages. Any factual corrections would be welcome.

    The Growth of Concern

    The mid-1960s saw a growing concern about the growth of the world population beyond the point where there were enough materials, food and energy to support it. This concern was particularly evident in densely populated countries such as The Netherlands and Japan. There were serious discussions about the depletion of material, food and energy reserves and the economic, logistic and political difficulties of distributing them fairly. There were discussions about the rapid deterioration of the environment – air, water and land – because increased consumption meant discarding more waste into the environment. There was a growing realization that one day very soon countries were going to have to plan for the flattening off of growth curves in spite of the potentially painful consequences. It was quite obvious that the exponential increase of world population would come to an end within the next century, one way or another. It was pointed out that Earth is finite. It has only a certain limited capacity. Growth can only occur over a very limited period, until that capacity is exceeded. It would need a great deal of advance planning over many years to effect the transition smoothly from growth to the steady state. But, it was realized, politicians rarely think in those terms. They think growth is for ever because "for ever" is the time until the next election.

    In the view of many of us, even in the 1960s, we were already passing the level of world population that could conceivably be sustained. Even if, by some miracle, all politicians in the world could be persuaded to work cooperatively and rationally towards the slowing of population growth, it was already very late. The process should have been started years before; now, in the 1960s, it was desperately urgent. Existing international organizations were too bureaucratic and obviously too slow to achieve anything in time. So thoughts turned to the possibility of analyzing these global problems and developing solutions in an informal, non-governmental group.

    The first and most important initiative to create such a group came from an Italian industrialist, Aurelio Peccei. It led to the creation of the Club of Rome. I first heard about the idea from Dr. Alexander King in the late 1960s. At the time, Alexander King, a distinguished English research chemist, was Director General of Education and Science at OECD. In that capacity he organized the meetings of the OECD Committee on Science and Technology Policy, of which he was Secretary. As Canadian member and also, for much of the time, Vice-Chairman of the Committee, the author was working very closely with Dr. King as well as with the other members of the Committee Executive at frequent meetings in Paris and Brussels in the late "60s and early 1970s.

    The Conception

    Towards the end of 1966, Dr. King read a speech given somewhere in South America by an Italian called Aurelio Peccei who, at that time was unknown to King, personally. The general theme of the speech was the same as that of a series of lectures Peccei had been giving on "The Challenge of the 1970s for the World today". In them, he discussed the effects of galloping population growth, the consequent rise in consumption of food, materials and energy, leading to depletion, shortages and, at the same time, environmental degradation. He was also concerned about the disparity between the North and South. He emphasized that it was essential for the NATO and Warsaw Pact countries to collaborate before real efforts could be made to attack these global problems.

    The contents of the reports on Peccei’s speeches so closely coincided with King’s own concerns about the future that he contacted Peccei suggesting that they meet the next time he was in Paris. The meeting took place and turned out to be not only a meeting of men, but of minds. Both men recognized that, in order to create the conditions for the survival of civilized life on Earth, politicians and world leaders must be provided with the ammunition for making courageous, difficult and even unpopular policy decisions. They would have to make commitments for the long-term future, far beyond their individual terms of office. Peccei and King agreed that, none of the formal intergovernmental international organizations such as the UN could do this – at least not in time. These bodies were far too cumbersome. It was characteristic of both men that they immediately got down to business. They discussed how they could assemble others who were similarly concerned about the world future in a group that was independent of race, politics, religions and bureaucracies.

    King and Peccei

    Both Peccei and King had extensive international contacts, albeit very different, but complementary backgrounds:

    Alex King was born in England in the first decade of the century (1909). A distinguished research chemist, he became a pioneer of science in government policy in Britain during the war, as secretary of the very first science policy committee at the heart of any government (he was Secretary of the Defence Science Policy Committee of the British Cabinet - the Tizard Committee). He spent the last period of the war with the British Mission in Washington DC After the war he introduced considerations of science policy into the OEEC, the forerunner of OECD and remained until his retirement from OECD in 1976. He moved to Paris in the late 1950s and has lived there, on the rue de Grenelle, ever since. By the time he met Peccei, he was well-known and greatly respected by the leading scientists and science ministers of the OECD countries who visited him and participated in his committees.

    In contrast, Aurelio Peccei was an Italian industrialist, also a product of the first decade of this century (1908).. A graduate in economics from the University of Turin, he joined the Fiat Company in about 1930. Although under continual suspicion as an anti-fascist in the 1930s, a successful mission for Fiat in China established his position in Fiat management, albeit as a bit of a maverick. It was his unconventional approach and the trust of successive heads of Fiat that gave him a considerable amount of freedom while still in Fiat employ. Peccei's work with the anti-fascist underground during the war caught up with him in 1944, when he was arrested, imprisoned, tortured, came within an ace of execution and escaped to lie in hiding until the liberation.

    After the war, Peccei established a Fiat organization in Latin America and negotiated an agreement with the Soviet Union to produce the first Fiat-designed cars there in a huge factory. It was on this project that he worked with Djerman Gvishiani, Kosygin's son-in-law and Vice-Chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology of the USSR. Gvishiani was to play a leading role in some of Peccei’s future plans (and, as a result, become a friend and colleague of mine).

    While still associated with Fiat, Aurelio Peccei became President of a large consulting organization, Italconsult. He was also an executive of Olivetti and was a founder of and an active participant in the Atlantic Development Group for Latin America (ADELA). He still found time to speak all over the world about his concerns for the global future. It was while he was involved in all these activities that I first met him in Paris through Alex King.

    A young Italian biographer of Peccei, Gunter Pauli writes:

    "In the late 1950s, Aurelio Peccei began to consider whether he had been doing enough with his life. He had many rich and rewarding experiences; he had raised a beautiful family and had provided well for its future; he had held important positions of responsibility for many years and had learned to recognize problems and opportunities quickly and how to organize people in order to achieve goals. He was accustomed to being a leader. However, he had become troubled by the world situation and the realization that the difficulties of both the industrialized and the poorer regions of the world were mounting into a tide. He had reached what is known as "the fifth age", that period of life when people become more introspective. However, because he was, by profession, a manager, he could not conceive of meditation divorced from action. For him, mere ideas, however worthy were not enough"

    The Gestation Period

    It was in the spirit described by Pauli that Aurelio Peccei met Alex King in Paris towards the end of the year 1966. Following that meeting, the two men invited about forty of their international friends and colleagues to an informal meeting in the Academia de Lincei in Rome on the 6-7 April, 1967. The meeting was sponsored by the Agnelli Foundation. (The Agnellis were the major shareholders of Fiat). At that meeting it was decided to give the group a name. "The Club of Rome" was an obvious choice, in order to acknowledge the location of that first meeting. Peccei often quipped that it was not to be confused with "the other club of Rome - the one in the Vatican"!

    The Director of the Batelle Research Institute in Geneva, Hugo Thiemann, offered to provide facilities for regular meetings of the Club Executive and offered his Institute as the location for the registered offices of the Club. Hugo was also a member of the OECD Committee on Science and Technology Policy, of which Alex King was Secretary, and of which Hugo Thiemann and the Author became Vice-Chairmen.

    Members of the group that had met in Rome met several times in Geneva during 1967-68 to hold discussions. At that time the Club had an informal "inner group" of six but had no corporate existence. The inner group consisted of:

    • Aurelio Peccei

    • Alexander King

    • Hugo Thiemann. Swiss Director, Batelle Institute, Geneva

    • Max Konstamm. A German Professor

    • Jean Saint-Geours. Ministry of Finance, Paris

    • Erich Jantsch. Austrian-Polish Author of "Technological Forecasting"

    The Chasm Ahead

    While still addressing groups in various parts of the world, Aurelio Peccei had put some notes on paper for these lectures. In 1967 he expanded these into a book The Chasm Ahead, which was published in 1968. In it he described the global problems that he saw as so threatening. He decided to spend the greater part of his time and money in calling attention to them and pressing for government action throughout the world. He did so until the time of his death in 1983.

    In 1954, Dr. Harrison Brown of the USA had written a book The Challenge of Man’s Future, in which he outlined, with great clarity and foresight, most of the major problems that, fifteen years later, became the preoccupation of the Club of Rome and which now, forty years later, seem to be even further away from solution. Even today, Harrison Brown's book is still one of the best analytical presentations of the probable consequences of population growth and the inevitable shift from fossil fuels to other sources of energy. Yet, at the time it was written, no-one was apparently able to focus the attention of governments or the public on these topics. The book was excellent - endorsed by no less a figure than Albert Einstein - but it didn’t make a splash because of the lack of widespread concern at the time. Harrison Brown was later Foreign Secretary of the USA Academy of Sciences. For several years we were both to serve on the Council of another non-governmental organization, IIASA that was also created as a result of Peccei’s catalysis.

    Peccei's appeal, in The Chasm Ahead was, unlike that of Harrison Brown, highly emotional and was made with the express intention of influencing governments to take timely action. Nevertheless he recognized the extreme reluctance, even impotence of political leaders in all countries to face problems that were beyond their political purview both in time-scale, interdependence and jurisdiction. He emphasized once more the importance of transatlantic and east-west cooperation in the approach to global problems that, in his view, transcended national interests. He also recognized that the rate of increase of the occurrence of disruptive events was overtaking, indeed overwhelming man’s ability to cope with them - a fact that has been amply substantiated in recent years. Since The Chasm Ahead was published, in 1968, many of the problems to which Peccei drew attention have been the subject of features on radio and TV and in the press - thanks largely to the Club of Rome. But at the time of Peccei-s initiative there was comparatively little public knowledge or concern.

    The Problematique

    By 1969, Peccei was becoming increasingly impatient that the early meetings of the embryo Club had discussed the problems at length but had not developed any course of action. What he was seeking was an effective methodology to tackle the issues of what he termed the "problematique", which he described in The Chasm Ahead as "a tidal wave of global problems". To this end he sought the views of a well-known American systems analyst, Professor Hasan Ozbekhan, on the development of the first compendium of global problems (problematique) for the Club of Rome.

    Ozbekhan became interested and he and Erich Jantsch made a presentation of the problematique to a meeting at the European Summer University in Alpbach, Austria in September, 1969. Eduard Pestel, a professor from Hannover, was at that meeting and expressed his interest in the Club to Peccei. By the end of the year, Pestel was not only a Member of the Club but had become a member of the Executive group of six. He was to play a major role in the Club right up to the time of his death in 1988. It was at this meeting that Peccei decided to hire Ozbekhan as a consultant to develop the problematique for the Club of Rome.

    The Birth

    Ozbekhan was to make his initial report to a meeting of the inner group (the "Executive") of the Club of Rome in December, 1969. The executive meeting was held in the Palais Pallavicini, opposite the Hofberg Palace in Vienna. In addition to Hasan Ozbekhan, who was making his presentation, there were three other non-members present. They were Djerman Gvishiani, the Vice-Chairman of the Soviet State Committee on Science and Technology, whom Peccei knew and liked from his Soviet-Fiat negotiations, Thor Kristensen, the Secretary General of OECD and the author.

    The executive itself had changed by then. It still included Peccei, King, Thiemann and Jantsch, but Max Konstamm and Jean Saint-Geours had been replaced by Professor Eduard Pestel of Hannover, a member of the Volkswagen Foundation and Saburo Okita, a leading economist and later Foreign Minister of Japan. At the time, Okita was Chairman of the OECD Committee on Science and Technology Policy of which Alex King was Secretary and Thiemann and the author were Vice-Chairmen.. Eduard Pestel, on the other hand was a colleague on the NATO Science Committee in Brussels, not in OECD. He later became Minister of Science and Education of the Land of Lower Saxony.

    The meeting in Vienna had two objectives. One was to give the Club of Rome legal status by incorporating it as a non-profit organization; the other was to define the problematique, with the help of Hasan Ozbekhan. The first objective was met; the second caused some trouble.

    During Ozbekhan-s presentation at the meeting in the Palais Pallavicini, most of those present became increasingly puzzled as to what was its purpose. It was couched in social science jargon which, while it would presumably make sense to his professional colleagues, might well cause difficulty to others.

    After Ozbekhan left, Aurelio asked for comments. We told him that, learned as Ozbekhan's work no doubt was, it was not likely to be comprehensible to either the public or to politicians to whom the Club of Rome message was to be addressed. Aurelio became very upset – in fact at one point he was actually in tears – and it took several hours over dinner to pacify him by suggesting (without a lot of confidence ) that he ask Ozbekhan to make another attempt at a paper on the problematique. Ozbekhan may have had a lot to offer through his academic work but we felt that his style did not match Peccei’s vision at this point.

    One positive outcome of the meeting was the decision to incorporate the Club of Rome as a non-profit organization under the laws of Switzerland, with its siège sociale at the Batelle Institute in Geneva. (This was accomplished in January 1970).

    The day of the meeting, the group was invited to lunch with the Chancellor of Austria. I found myself seated next to the Foreign Minister of Austria, Kurt Waldheim, who had lived in Ottawa for several years as Austrian Ambassador. We found we had many mutual friends. We had no hint at that time of the scandal that was to engulf him in later years. (Austria’s interest in global problems was to take a tangible form later, when the Government restored Schloss Laxenburg to house another of Peccei’s brainchildren, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) - an East-West research institute which was formed to make a joint systematic approach to major problems which, if not all global in scale, were perceived as affecting all the (then) 12 member countries, which, remarkably at the time, included the USSR and East and West Germany as well as the USA and Japan).

    That evening the group was invited to Gvishiani’s suite in the Imperial Hotel in Vienna. He served his favorite fruit vodka. The party was a unique experience and the beginning of a long warm relationship with Gvishiani which blossomed in the 1970s when we worked together on the Council of IIASA.

    Stirrings in Canada

    Aurelio Peccei had first come to Canada in June 1969 with Alex King. On his next visit, not long after the meeting in Vienna, he brought me a copy of his book The Chasm Ahead, inscribed with the words: To Rennie Whitehead, as a token of deep appreciation and in the hope that the dreams we are designing may come true in a very near future, January 5th 1970. Aurelio Peccei. On this occasion he came to dinner at our home. During that visit to Canada we had also arranged a small dinner meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau. I think Trudeau already shared some of Peccei’s concerns about the future and he was sympathetic to the aims of the Club. We also had lunch at Rideau Hall (the residence of the Governor-General).

    After dinner, Trudeau arranged a circle of chairs in the drawing room and led a prolonged discussion of the problems perceived by Peccei and the role of a Club of Rome. The group included ; Michael Pitfield, Marc Lalonde, the Prime Minister's Principal Secretary at the time, who later became a Minister; Senator Lamontagne, who created the Senate Committee on Science Policy; Jean Chrétien; Pierre Gendron, the President of the Pulp and Paper Research Association in Montreal; and Bill Stadelman of the Ontario Research Foundation.

    It was on this occasion that Peccei told Trudeau of my reluctance to accept membership in the Club because of possible conflict of interest. Trudeau told him that membership could be regarded as compatible with my responsibilities as Principal Science Advisor in the Privy Council Office; it would enable him to keep in touch with the activities of the Club of Rome. Ways could be suggested in which the Canadian Government could help the Club. So I became a Member of the Club of Rome in January, 1970, about a month after it was incorporated.

    It was as a result of these meetings that we were able in the next few years to sponsor certain Club of Rome projects, host a full Meeting of the Club of Rome (Montebello, 1971) and formally establish one of the first National Associations for the Club of Rome.

    Limits to Growth

    In the meantime, the Club of Rome held its first formal Annual Meeting in Bern, Switzerland in June 1970. Ozbekhan was to present his revised problematique to that meeting. It did not catch the imagination of the Members. Some were reported as saying that it was too humanistic and not structured enough. Peccei was almost at his wits’ end when, towards the end of the day Professor Jay Forrester of MIT made a concrete proposal. He had previously had discussions with Peccei at MIT and he was becoming increasingly convinced that the techniques of "Industrial Dynamics" which they were successfully applying to complex industrial problems, could be adapted to model the dynamics of the world. To this end he renamed it "Systems Dynamics" at the suggestion of Eduard Pestel, who agreed to present the proposal to the Volkswagen Foundation for funding. In return, Forrester invited the six Club of Rome executives to Cambridge, Mass. to discuss with him the parameters of the model.

    The rest is history. A 28 year-old researcher, Dennis Meadows, was put in charge of the project. The Club of Rome was invited to hold its second annual gathering in Canada in April 1971. It took place at the Seignorie Club in Montebello, on the North bank of the Ottawa river between Ottawa and Montreal. My wife and I felt that the warm, hospitable Country Club environment was ideal for the meeting. And so it proved. Dennis Meadows presented his plan to us at that meeting and gave a progress report. It was generally well received. A few months later, in the spring of 1972, the book Limits to Growth was published. The style and clarity of the presentation of the material in the book owed a great deal to the outstanding work of Dennis Meadows" wife, Donnella.

    Limits to Growth was based on the Systems Dynamics model of a homogeneous world. It took into account the interaction between population density, resources of food, energy, materials and capital, environmental degradation, land use and so on. A number of scenarios were developed in it, using computer simulation and based on the development of several hypothetical "stabilizing" policies. The results were always similar: a catastrophic fall in world population and standard of living, within 50 to 100 years if current trends continued.

    The fact that Limits to Growth considered the world as a whole, without any separate treatment of different regions or countries made the model deliberately simplistic, but this over-simplification was necessary in order to have a model at all in a reasonable time. Because the MIT approach was (albeit necessarily) so simplistic it was widely criticized at the time by some academics. John Maddox, the former Editor of "Nature" and Prof. Chris Freeman of the Science Policy Group of the University of Sussex led the criticism that Limits to Growth was "unscientific". Maddox wrote a book on the subject entitled The Doomsday Syndrome which was heavily critical of Limits to Growth and quite erroneously accused it of having a "doomsday" message. In fact the Limits to Growth study only projected a few possible scenarios of the sort of thing that was likely to happen if we did not change our ways on a global scale. It was not a forecasting document.

    What the critics failed to see was that, scientific or not, Limits to Growth was precisely the blunt instrument that was necessary to get world attention. Ironically enough, although it was only one of a number of projects sponsored at the time by the Club of Rome, it was the one most closely identified with the Club in the public eye. Consequently, instead of being congratulated for sponsoring such a novel, independent study, the Club tended to be criticized at the time, particularly in Britain and the USA, for the limitations of the Meadows" approach and its alleged "doomsday" message. Yet earlier, less flamboyant studies than Limits to Growth had gone largely unnoticed. While Limits to Growth only sold tens of thousands in America, it sold millions in more congested countries, such as the Netherlands and Japan. It was published in several languages.

    By the early 1970s, Aurelio Peccei’s initiative had snowballed. Since those early days the Club of Rome has held full meetings almost every year, often financed by the government of the host country, and as widely dispersed as Japan, Venezuela, Germany, Jugoslavia and the Middle East. The results of studies it has catalyzed and sponsored have been published in the many books that have appeared under the sponsorship of the Club of Rome.

    More Club of Rome Projects

    The projects the Club has espoused and sponsored for publication provides an insight into the way Peccei’s and King’s thinking progressed. A good deal of the early emphasis was on computer-aided modelling and analysis of the global system. The simple Limits to Growth model was followed by a series of "layered" and regionalized computer models which culminated in the Pestel-Mesarovic book Mankind at the Turning-Point. There was an increasing recognition of the complexity of decision analysis and the confusing role that was played by the interaction and interdependence of many of the components of the global system. There was a growing appreciation of the dangers of major decisions that were based on a grossly inadequate understanding of the workings of national and global systems.

    At the same time leading world experts in food, materials and energy were consulted in a project entitled Beyond the Age of Waste. We were able to arrange financial support for this project from the Canadian Government. The impact of this important project was diluted in North America because of the extraordinary delay in the publication of the English edition of the book. A somewhat similar, but more extensive activity, led to the publication of Goals for Mankind, which dealt not with material conservation but with the objectives of nations, groups and individuals.

    Both this project and the slightly earlier Reshaping the International Order were inevitably controversial because they were perceived by some as crossing the fine line between human and political goals. Yet Peccei had seen to it that the Club of Rome membership represented all possible political beliefs from communist through liberal to the extreme right so that the Club itself could never be accused of taking or supporting any particular political or, for that matter, religious stance.

    It was during the 70s that Aurelio Peccei’s attention turned from the scenarios that illustrated the consequences of population growth, materials, energy and food shortages, towards the limitations of human beings themselves. His book The Human Quality focuses his concern for human irresponsibility and his undying faith that "the human quality" can be changed for the better, if human beings set their sights on it. It is in the first chapter of that book that we find the all-too-brief, reluctant autobiography of Peccei. It is typical of his modesty to condense his remarkable achievements into a brief 14 pages.

    A project on learning was also stimulated by Peccei’s new direction of thought; like many others it was conducted by an independent multi-national research team. It resulted in a book No Limits to Learning" . It examines the thesis that human beings have much greater capabilities for understanding and handling complexity than they usually demonstrate by their actions.

    While the projects of the late 1970s mainly concentrated on the growing realization that the weakest component in the global system was man himself, Peccei did not ignore the continuing impact of technological change. A major project on micro-electronics was completed in 1981 with the publication of the book Microelectronics and Society - For Better or for Worse, which analyzed the impact on society of the micro-computer revolution. Ran Ide, of the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome contributed greatly to that project.

    Aurelio Peccei’s perspective on the future is to be found compressed into another book which was published a couple of years before his death. Towards the end of it he writes:

    It is evident that our current ways of thinking reflect ideologies and experiences of a past very different from the present. A wide gap has thus opened between the beliefs, values, principles, norms, frames of reference and mental attitudes that we normally employ as guides , and those that are now necessary in view of the nature and extent of the challenges of our age. This is a grave handicap, indeed.

    It is now quite clear, almost ten years later, that Aurelio Peccei had, once again, recognized the crux of the global problem well ahead of others. Only now, in the nineties, is there a dawning recognition, in a few places, that values, attitudes and, indeed, the Western way of life must change if there is to be any possibility of survival in the light of population growth and the technological environmental and political changes that have already taken place in the world.

    All the projects that were stimulated by Peccei and his colleagues and published as Reports to the Club of Rome were, of course conducted by independent groups. The work was financed directly from conventional sources including governments, industry and foundations. Peccei insisted that the Club of Rome handle no money, nor have any paid employees. For years he handled the secretariat work himself with such informal help as was available to him at the time.

    The role of the Club of Rome in these projects was catalytic: It provided the climate in which new ideas were generated; it catalyzed the meeting of researchers with common interests from different countries; it sought out interested funding agencies and helped negotiate funds for the newly-conceived projects; and it provided a forum for discussion and reports on progress. It was by adherence to this brilliantly simple "non-organization" concept that Aurelio Peccei established and maintained the independence and the stature of the Club of Rome.

    Meetings with Heads of State

    Beyond the meetings of the Club of Rome itself, and the projects and publications it has sponsored, Aurelio Peccei and Alex King have travelled literally millions of miles visiting heads of state in practically every country in their efforts to encourage a rational, cooperative approach to a global future. They were persona grata in every capital, whether East or West, North or South. Several meetings of heads of state of more than 20 countries (excluding the super powers) with a few Club of Rome members have been held, notably in Salzburg (1974), Guanajuato (1975) and Stockholm (1978). Successive meetings have shown increasing awareness of the problems on the part of the heads of state and, depressingly, increasing pessimism regarding the feasibility of addressing those problems effectively within the constraints of political institutions.

    I was privileged to attend the Stockholm meeting with Heads of State, which was held in the Grand Hotel at Saltjebaden near Stockholm. There was lots of excitement – dozens of police cars at the front and a team of men patrolling the perimeter armed with automatic weapons and accompanied by police dogs. The meeting room was sealed and guarded between sessions.

    It was agreed that there would be no published record of such meetings but I still have my own extensive notes. Typical of the gist of individual despairing comments (no attribution for obvious reasons) are:

    "As ministers, we have received a great deal of information, forecasts and the results of analysis. What is lacking is political decision. Most politicians are aware of the nature of the problems, but no decisions are taken. Why? The man in the street is not prepared to make sacrifices and the politician will not fight this attitude -indeed he cannot without risking his political life. Sacrifice is against trade union principles. There are two possible approaches: One is to try to build up an ethic which substitutes satisfaction for material reward. The other is to frighten people to the point where they will make sacrifices in order to avoid catastrophe. Both methods must be attempted."


    "Is it possible to introduce unpopular measures in a democracy? Can the conditions be created for taking actions in the long-term global interest? Has the democratic process first to be blocked?......We must not consider departing from the democratic process, either in principle or in practice – events would snowball in the direction of totalitarianism and who can guarantee that an all-powerful government is good? Rather we should try to convince the public that the less popular measures are essential to the future. We must call for sacrifices in the short term for the benefit of all in the long term."

    and so on. But they were all convinced that their political survival was at stake if they initiated the measures that are essential for global survival. Some ministers might have been prepared to make that sacrifice except for the fact that their probable successors had less knowledge of global problems and were less sympathetic towards solutions than they were, so the situation would not be improved by their resignation. Prime Minister Trudeau is also reported as having said something to this effect at the Salzburg Conference of Heads of State.

    The meeting in Saltjebaden was chaired by the Prime Minister of Sweden. Sam Nilsson, former Secretary of the Nobel Foundation and now Secretary of IFIAS briefed him for the meeting and acted as Secretary.

    Twelve years later, when I attended the 20th Anniversary Meeting of the Club of Rome in Paris in October 1988, many similar things were said. There seemed to have been no progress towards breaking the political impasse which paralyses national and international action against global threats. In the meantime the global predicament was intensifying and becoming at once more difficult and more costly to address. Today, I am afraid that it becomes less and less likely that it ever will be faced in time to prevent irreversible chaos and the collapse of civilization.

    To add to my pessimism, the Club of Rome itself has now found it essential to acquire a bureaucracy. Peccei would have no employees - no-one who depended on the Club of Rome in order to make a living. To achieve this he spent a great deal of his own time and money on travelling the world to spread his message and he generally borrowed secretarial help from friendly institutions. In this way the Club could be free from criticism. There was no incentive to keep it going to preserve anyone’s livelihood, nor could it be swayed by the influence of financial supporters. Peccei proudly referred to it as a non-organization.

    Peccei died suddenly, in harness, in 1984. It was the end of an era. There was no longer an independent source of funds and the Club was left in a quandary, whether to maintain its non-organization status or whether to acquire the minimum amount of organization necessary to solicit and administer funding. Alexander King, the tireless co-founder, became the "temporary" President of the Club of Rome. After a long period of a search for alternatives, an Executive Secretary was appointed and a small bureaucracy was thereby started. Club members are still divided on the wisdom of this decision, but alternative suggestions have been scarce.

    The 20th Anniversary

    The 20th Anniversary of the Club of Rome was held in Paris in October 1988. It was a magnificent affair with sumptuous lunches, receptions and dinners every day hosted by the Government of France and the City of Paris. This was in stark contrast to discussion topics, many of which were devoted to the worsening conditions in the third world. The meeting room was equipped with closed-circuit TV. 80 or so members who participated in the discussion were seated around the open rectangle of tables. There were also about double that number of participants seated round the perimeter and the event was fully covered by French TV and excerpts were recorded on videotape.

    The meeting, which lasted four days, was chaired by Alexander King. Participants included Federico Mayor, Director General of UNESCO, Prince Hassan of Jordan, Cardinal König of Austria, Emil van Lennep, formerly Secretary General of OECD, Julius Nyerere, formerly President of Tanzania and Michael Casadessus, the President of the International Monetary Fund.

    One member introduced a theme which was picked up by others and, in a way characterized the meeting. It was that Governments are intrinsically cautious. They study and prevaricate; they like to be absolutely certain before they act. But this is an age of uncertainty. We cannot afford to wait for all the data before starting the treatment of global ills because, while we are waiting, the patient may die. We already have enough scientific basis for action on many global problems including some of the most urgent of them. We only lack the courage to act in spite of vested political and financial interests.

    The Prime Minister of France, Michel Rocard in a quite excellent speech, also made pertinent remarks on the global predicament. He said:

    ".....there are major long-term trends that are well known to us. We know the population growth rates; we know that oil and gas resources are not inexhaustible; we can predict what Europe’s unemployment rate will be in the absence of healthy, enduring growth; we can see that many third world countries are becoming poorer..... We should beware of seeing uncertainty where there is none, because what is uncertain today is the nature of our response. From this, I conclude that we cannot use the fact that we are governing in a situation of uncertainty as an excuse for mere short-term management. On the contrary, it obliges us to seek to master those long-term trends which, if we do not take care, could lead us into wholly undesirable situations. Faced with instability, public opinion demands constancy of its politicians; faced with disorder, it expects to see a certain concern for rationality; faced with complexity, it demands a lucid analysis of the constraints; faced with uncertainty, it calls for sufficient determination to influence the course of events."

    Under the heading "Can Leaders Tell the Truth and Still Remain Leaders?", an American Professor, Donald Michaels, told a few home truths about leadership. He pointed out that we suffer from leaders who are afraid to acknowledge the existence of certain major problems because they are reluctant to admit that they do not know what to do about them. Consequently they behave as if the problems do not exist. For many years the environmental devastation due to the use of fossil fuels has fallen into this category in North America. It is a sad commentary on political leadership.

    A summary of the proceedings of the 20th Anniversary Meeting of the Club of Rome was published in a special CACOR Newsletter (Jan. 1989).

    Changing Times

    In February 1990, Alexander King retired from his position as President of the Club of Rome and was formally succeeded by Ricardo Diez-Hochleitner, President of the Spanish Association for the Club of Rome. King, who had dedicated much of his time and effort during the last 25 years to the work of the Club, was still very active as its roving ambassador. The Secrétariat Général in Paris was headed by a distiguished French scholar, Bertrand Schneider.

    As a sign of the changing times the Club of Rome issued the first Report from its Council in 1991. All previous publications had been addressed by the authors to the Club and, while many of them carried a brief foreword by the Club Executive they expressed the opinions of the authors which were not necessarily those of the Club of Rome as a body. In 1991, Alex King and Bertrand Schneider wrote The First Global Revolution which carried the subtitle A Report by the Council of the Club of Rome (the emphasis is mine). The following fair description of the book appears on its back cover:

    The new global revolution is coming into being amid social, economic and cultural earthquakes that have set in motion humanity’s journey into a vast unknown. The First Global Revolution outlines a strategy for mobilizing the globe for environmental security and clean technology by spelling out how to convert from a military to a civil economy, how to tackle global warming and the energy problem, and how to deal with world poverty and the disparities between North and South - all within the context of a world-wide strategy that grapples with the current tangle of crises to make our survival possible in a radically changed globe.

    Club of Rome Members have asked each other for several years whether there is any longer a need for a Club of Rome. Governments and the public are now becoming more aware of the kinds of global problem originally described by Peccei in the 1960s and elaborated on over the years in the many books that have been sponsored by the Club of Rome as well as in The First Global Revolution. In spite of these efforts the political and substantive moves to alleviate the problems are woefully inadequate. It is now more urgent than ever to take a new look at the world as it appears in the new century, to examine how it arrived at its present predicament, and to initiate some of the more obvious material and behavioural changes that have to be made if there is to be any hope of the survival of civilized life beyond the middle of the next century.. The need for a Club of Rome may now be greater than ever.

    Major changes in the management and structure of The Club of Rome took place in 1999. Details of the present organization may be found on the Club of Rome Web site.

    Annex 1: Membership of the Club of Rome

    There are at present three types of membership of the Club of Rome. They are: Honorary Member, Member and Associate Member. The invitation to membership and the categorization of individual members is the sole prerogative of the Council of the Club of Rome. While no clear statement of policy is available, the following is a de facto interpretation of the categories:

    Honorary Member: Includes persons of international distinction, such as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Eduard Shevardnadze, Vaclav Havel, Mikhail Gorbachev and a few members who have given outstanding service to the Club including Umberto Colombo, Hugo Thiemann, Jay Forrester and Denis Meadows. There are about 37 Honorary Members on the list in 2004.

    Member: Includes persons who are viewed by the Executive as active in the Club of Rome itself, by their ability to attend most of the Club’s Meetings, wherever they are held, to participate in the discussions and in some cases in Club of Rome projects and, possibly, to raise funds for them. There are approximately 78 “active” Members on the list in 2004.

    Associate Member: Includes mostly individuals who were Members for a period but later probably found themselves unable to attend and participate in Club of Rome meetings regularly for financial or other reasons. The category of Associate Member was introduced piecemeal in the early 1980s and it is impossible to judge from the available Membership lists exactly why or when the individual transfers from Member to Associate Member took place. There are 25 Associate Members on the2004 list, which has in the past included Thor Heyerdhal as well as Anthony Knoppers and Senator Claiborne Pell, (who were founders of the US Association for the Club of Rome)

    Canadian Members of the Club of Rome (1970 – 2004)

    Dr. Pierre R. Gendron# Pres., Pulp & Paper Research Institute

    Mr. Ran Ide# Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

    Mr. Pierre Juneau President, CBC.

    Dr. Derrick de Kerckhove* University of Toronto.

    Ranjit Kumar# President, Foundation for International Training

    Senator Maurice Lamontagne# . Senate of Canada

    Ms. Elisabeth Mann Borgese# Dalhousie Universit

    Mr. Roy Megarry Publisher, "Globe & Mail

    Mr. Ronald S. Ritchie President, Investment Dealers' Assoc

    Dr. Roseann Runte* President, Victoria University, Toronto

    Mr. Cameron Smith President, Ideality Inc., Toronto

    Mr. W.R. Stadelman President, Ontario Research Foundation

    Mr. Maurice Strong President CIDA

    Dr. Robert J. Uffen # Director, Science Secretariat, PCO

    Dr. J. Rennie Whitehead** Principal Science Advisor, PCO.

    # Deceased   *Full Member   **Associate Member
    Current Members and Associate Members as of 2004 are shown in
    bold type.

    Annex 2: Books concerning the Club of Rome

    By or about Aurelio Peccei:

    • The Chasm Ahead: by Aurelio Peccei. Macmillan, NY (1969)
    • The Human Quality: by Aurelio Peccei. Pergamon Press (1977)
    • One Hundred Pages for the Future: by Aurelio Peccei. Pergamon Press (1981)
    • Crusader for the Future: by Gunther A. Pauli. Pergamon Press, (1988)

    Books that resulted from studies sponsored by the Club of Rome:

    • The Limits to Growth: by Meadows. Universe Books (1972)
    • Mankind at the Turning-Point: by Eduard Pestel and Mihajlo Mesarovic. E.P. Dutton/Reader's Digest, NY (1974)
    • Catastrophe or New Society: IDRC Ottawa (1976)
    • Reshaping the International Order: by Jan Tinbergen, E.P. Dutton and Co Inc. NY (1976)
    • Goals for Mankind: by Ervin Laszlo et al. E.P. Dutton Co. NY (1977)
    • Beyond the Age of Waste: by Gabor, Colombo, King and Galli. Pergamon Press (1978)
    • Energy: The Countdown: by Thierry de Montbrial. Pergamon Press (1978)
    • No Limits to Learning: by Botkin, Elmandra and Malitz; Pergamon Press (1979)
    • Dialogue on Wealth and Welfare: by Orio Giarini. Pergamon Press (1980)
    • Road Maps to the Future: by Bohdan Hawrylyshyn. Pergamon Press (1980)
    • The State of the Planet: by Alexander King; Pergamon (1980)
    • Microelectronics and the Society - For Better or Worse: by Schaff and Friedrichs. Pergamon Press (1982)
    • The First Global Revolution: by Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider; Pantheon (1991)

    Books associated with CACOR or by CACOR Members:

    • Global 2000: Implications for Canada: by Barney, Freeman and Ulinsky; Pergamon Press (1983)
    • Crucial Questions about the Future: by Allen Tough; University Press of America (1991)
    • Looking Back on the Future: by Fred Thompson; Futurescan International Inc (1992)
    • L'homme et la croissance: by Eduard Pestel, Économica (1988)

    Other important books on the future

    • The Challenge of Man's Future: by Harrison Brown; Viking Press (1954)
    • "Earth In The Balance: Ecology And The Human Spirit", by Senator Al Gore; Houghton Mifflin (1992)