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René Dumont

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René Dumont (1904 - 2001) was a French engineer in agronomy, sociologist, and environmental politician.

Born in Cambrai, in the north of France. His father was a professor in agriculture and his grand-father a farmer.
He graduated from the INA-PG[?], as an engineer in agronomy. First sent to Vietnam (1929) at the end of his studies, he is revolted by colonialism and returns to Paris to spend most of his career as a professor of agricultural sciences (1933-1974).

René Dumont started his career as a promoter of the use of chemical fertizers and mechanisation. He wrote articles, quoting nazi agriculture as a model, in "La Terre Française" (petainist weekly journal), favoring agricultural corporatism.
However, he was one of the first to denounce damages from the green revolution ("Révolution Verte") and to fight agricultural productivism.
He was an expert with the United Nations and FAO, and wrote about 30 books.
Great traveler, he knew perfectly farming issues in the under-developed countries.

He was preaching for

  • demographic control
  • energy savings
  • international cooperation to help poor nations
  • soil quality preservation and remediation

He considered development not to be so much a question of money, fertilizer, or seeds, but a carefully balanced result of the three. He advocated relations between humans and their fields relied foremost on relations between humans themselves, social relationships being the basis for a proper agricultural and industrial development. Finally, he believed the basis for good social relationships between humans was good relationship between men and women, thus arguing demography control relied on women emancipation.

Ahead of his time, the most famous French agronomist, well-known for his red-pullover, surprised French people by showing on TV an apple and a glass of water, telling them how precious these resources were, and predicting the future price of oil. Dumont was one of the first to explain the consequences of what was to be called globalization, demographic explosion, productivism, pollution, shantytowns, malnutrition, rift between northern and southern countries. He was also one of the first to use the word "développement durable" (sustainable development).

He ran for President in 1974 as the first ecologist candidate, and won 1.32 % of the votes. His campaign director was Brice Lalonde[?].
That election opened the way to political ecology, for a whole generation that was beginning to realise economical growth was a dream, that market was not everything, and planet resources were not unlimited.
The French political ecology was founded by Dumont and is under-developed countries oriented, against war, against capitalism and for solidarity. Some consider it not enough rooted in deep ecology.

Dumont is considered to be the forefather of the French Green Party. In a statement, France's Green Party called Dumont "the man who made it possible to bring environmental policies in a direct and natural manner into the political world".


" Une croissance indéfinie est impossible, nous n'avons qu'une seule terre, mais une civilisation du bonheur est possible… Les solutions existent, mais l'opinion les ignore car les structures actuelles et les détenteurs du pouvoir économique et politique s'y opposent.

Nos conditions de vie et de travail continuent à se détériorer et les inégalites sociales s'accentuent. De multiples conflits traduisent cette situation de crise. Elle ne peut que s'aggraver. C'est un seul et même système qui organise l'exploitation des travailleurs et la dégradation de vie qui met en péril la terre entière. La croissance aveugle ne tient compte ni du bien être, ni de l'environnement. "

                        René Dumont.


His best seller " L’Afrique noire est mal partie " (1962).

Other books :
l'Utopie ou la Mort (1973)
l'Agronome de la faim (1974)
L'Afrique étranglée (1980)
Pour l'Afrique, j'accuse (1986)
Un monde intolérable: le libéralisme en question (1988)
Démocratie pour l'Afrique (1991).

See also : Alain Lipietz

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