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For most of my life, I
have been a writer on environment and Third-World development and
travelled to many Third-World countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin
America. My best known books are
Inside the Third World (1979) and The Third Revolution
(1993) (on population and environment). Inside the Third World
was an international best seller and sold over 200,000 copies in 13
reprints. My books have been translated into six languages
(including a pirate edition in Turkish which I knew nothing about
until I was presented with a copy after giving a lecture in
I also wrote The Greening
of Africa (1987) about sustainable development for Africa, and
Inside the Inner City (1983) about inner city poverty in East
In 1984 I was awarded an
honorary fellowship in the Institute of Community Studies (now the
Young Foundation). In 1988 I received a UN Environment Programme
Global 500 award for my writings on environment and in 1992 a
Population Institute Global Media Award for population reporting.
I have been the editor of
top-level reports of UN agencies such as the Food and Agriculture
Organization, UN Population Fund and the UN Environment Programme. I was editor-in-chief for the
Independent Commission on Population and Quality of Life's report
Caring for the Future (1996). In 2001 I was the lead author of
the American Association for the Advancement of Science's
Atlas of Population and Environment. From 2004 to 2008 I edited
the United Nations Environment Programme's flagship annual report on
the global environment Geo Yearbook (now titled UNEP
I was born in Oldham,
Lancashire, United Kingdom, and schooled at Manchester
Grammar School. After a gap year working first with delinquent
youths in northern Germany, then with
handicapped children in southern Germany, I studied European languages and
literature at Cambridge University. Then came a year at the University of Pisa,
a Council of Europe scholarship, reading mostly philosophy and
politics, and a Masters in political
sociology at the London School of Economics. In between academic
years I worked as a dough maker in a cake factory, a doorman in a
Swiss hotel, and a tour guide on a Grand Tour of Western Europe.
My first job was
French language and literature at the University of Ife in Nigeria,
during the civil war with Biafra. Somewhat later in life,
I got my Ph. D. from Cambridge in Earth Sciences and
I trained as a journalist
on the Western Mail in Wales, and worked for three years with
the social issues magazine New Society in London,
writing about poverty, mental health, crime and race issues.
In 1975 I went freelance and since I had always hoped to be a
foreign correspondent, I specialized in writing and photography
about poverty and environment in developing countries. After a
couple of years of short-term assignments I realized that I was
building up a broad picture of the Third World both geographically
and thematically, and started planning my trips to complete the
I lived for most of my
adult life in Hampstead, London, close to Hampstead Heath. Since
2002 I have lived in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains in
California. I have two sons, Alex and Sam.
Testing out the weight of women's
firewood burdens in Yatenga province,
Burkina Faso, 1989.
Since around the age of ten or
eleven, I have always been writing. I focus primarily on
non-fiction, because of my love affair with reality. For me, reality
is so rich and deep, and the problems we face so vast and
challenging, that I am fully satisfied writing about the actuality
My earliest non-fiction was journalism, first news, then
features. My focus was always on poverty, injustice and
marginalization: I specialized in talking to the poorest and most
oppressed people, first in Britain, then in the developing world.
I covered urban problems, but always preferred to be out in the
villages where most poor people lived.
Closer focus on environment began in 1980 when I first started
editing and writing for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization,
starting with their series "Agriculture Towards 2000" and later
1986 the International Institute for Environment and Development
invited me to write The Greening of Africa about solutions to
Africa's environmental and agricultural problems. After that I came
to specialize in population and environment linkages, I researched
and wrote a couple of State of the World Population reports for the
UN Population Fund, leading on to my book The Third Revolution.
More recently I shifted to writing about nature and spirituality. I feel
that, side by side with the all-important struggle to save our
planet, it is also important to contribute towards the shift in
human thinking about nature.
The following links lead to Amazon sellers
of my books.
If they are not available at Amazon.com, or if you live in the UK,
Inside the Third World (Penguin 1993)
Overview of the major problems of poverty in developing countries
The Third World Tomorrow (Penguin 1980)
Overview of the most promising solutions to poverty in developing
Inside the Inner City (Penguin 1983)
The realities of poverty and marginalization in East London
The Greening of Africa (Paladin 1987)
Low-cost environmentally-friendly solutions to Africa's food and
The Third Revolution (Penguin 1992)
Overview of major environmental problems and their links to
AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment (2001)
I have been taking
professional photographs for 32 years now, alongside my
writing. It has always been another channel through
which to explore reality. Photography explores reality
directly and sensually, without the intervention of
words which can so often obscure reality rather than
Photography is a part of my religious practice: it
allows me to focus intensely on the beauty that
surrounds us, enables me to see things that are too
fleeting for the human eye to perceive, and when I am
back home permits me to study the finer details and
I started with social
documentary photos of poverty in Britain. Then I moved
on to Third World countries, especially rural areas
where people had a closer connection to nature. As I
took shots of people in their natural environment, I
began adding straight pictures of their environment.
As the years passed I
gradually became more and more sensitive to people's
feelings about being photographed, and gradually felt
less entitled to just charge in and shoot
Nowadays I mostly focus on nature photography, wherever
I happen to be. I am fascinated by natural form,
especially abstract, dynamic and chaotic forms such as
volcanic rocks, ocean waves, tree bark, the play of
light on creeks. I am also fascinated by the diversity
of plants and animals. I go on a nature hike almost
every morning, and love to watch and record animals'
intelligent and responsive behavior from day to day.
I never cease to be amazed how impressively animals and
plants are adapted to their environment, and how
amazingly beautiful and skilled they are.
galleries at Zenfolio
These are hi-res photos that are most suitable for photo
at sizes up to 24" x 36"
They are also available as photo gifts: T-shirts, mugs, mouse
mats and so on.
Many of the photos from
my Third World travels are available online at Still Pictures.
Enter my name in the search
box and click the "search" button.
Tabblo is the best photo storage site for creating artistic
of images and text. The images can be purchased individually
or as posters of the whole layouts.
I am gradually adding more layouts.
[When buying posters, choose the "shrink to fit" option]