Skip to main content
The Forgotten Green History

The Things We Knew in 1972

Geert Buelens

Geert Buelens, cultural historian and a writer of historical nonfiction and poetry confronts us in 'The Things We Knew in 1972' with the momentous report of the Club of Rome published half a century ago. It was an international bestseller. Sometimes it seems as if we have only just become aware of the  dangers of pollution. But at the time everybody was thoroughly aware that we were on our way to destroy the planet. Nearly all ecological problems were known fifty years ago, they were thoroughly discussed by scientists, politicians and artists.

Dagblad van het Noorden

Yet not much was done. How is it that we didn’t act more boldly, more resolutely? It was five to midnight then, it is in some respects well after now. How did those discussions go? And, above all: why have we evidently not learned the right lessons from them? Buelens’ approach is clear, original, and personal, embedding the legendary moment of this hugely important and shocking report in the cultural history of that era and the largely forgotten details. 'The Things We Knew in 1972' is admirably concise, it is both alarming and positive, informative, activating, entertaining and simply a joy to read.

Geert Buelens unravels the fascinating history behind one of the most important texts of the modern world and wonders: why did the extraordinary momentum it generated got lost.
David Van Reybrouck
Geert Buelens launches 'The Things We Knew in 1972' at BOZAR