David Fleming

David Fleming passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday night. David was a leading green thinker whose work on Tradable Energy Quotas was highly influential on the formation of the Zero Carbon Britain scenarios. He also lectured on the CAT masters course; his presentations were a furious fervor of new ideas and concepts that left you reeling with inspiration and possibilities.

David was a key figure the development of the UK Ecology party in the 70s which went on to become the Green Party. During the 80s David chaired the Soil Association and for the last fifteen years of his life he wrote and lectured on sustainability with an emphasis on localisation.

Spending time with David was always exciting and great fun, He was one of my deepest influences and a key character in the development of the new ideas which now underpin the green and transition movements. His ongoing work on the 'Lean Economy' was a milestone in green thinking. Lean Logic: A Dictionary for Our Time, the book he had been working on is complete and hopefully will be published soon.


David Fleming's Feasta lecture: The Lean Economy - a Vision of Civility for a World in Trouble

After Oil: paper by David Fleming in the first Feasta Review

I have been collecting the online tributes to my dear friend and colleague David here:
Shaun Chamberlin
06th December 2010

Best known for his work on TEQ's, David was an exceptionally intelligent man, but modest with it. There are few who can combine such intellect with graciousness and a genuine enthusiasm to hear the views of others.

At CAT we took the view that the material David had written on TEQ's was so accessible that we ought really to ask him to lecture about something else. David was delighted by this idea, and chose to lecture mostly on what had become his focus in recent years; Lean Logic and the creation of resilient societies. He started by saying that nobody had ever asked him to lecture on resilience before, so it might not be very good. We were then treated to one of the most intense intellectual experiences imaginable, which left everyone in a state of mental exhaustion. David on the other hand, was raring to go to the pub and continue the discussion.

David had a minimalist approach to visual aids. He once gave us a lecture delivered largely in front of a series of very simple slides, empty but for two large curves. To a bunch of students it couldn't really be interpreted as anything other than a pair of pendulous breasts. But to David it was a slide illustrating the important features of resilient societies. With a completely straight face, he used the curves (and subsequent slides of subtly different curves, some with additions of what could only be described as nipples) to describe types of resilience. Meanwhile, there were stifled giggles in the front couple of rows of students, and tears of silent laughter streaming down the faces of students further back. Nobody who was there will forget the underlying principles of resilience after that lecture, and nobody could have delivered it with such aplomb as David did.

It was an immense privilege to have known David, and I only hope that the generation he inspired can continue where he left off. If the people he has touched achieve only a fraction of what he has achieved, we have cause for optimism.

Judith Thornton
06th December 2010

I am shocked and really saddened. David delivered the most memorable lecture on my CAT MSc and gave real meaning to the idea of resilience. Long may his inspirational work continue to impact on individuals and hopefully, society.
Dan Weisselberg
07th December 2010

I had found his lecture at CAT so interesting. May he keep inspiring all the students he lectured and the people who knew him, to continue furthering his work and ideas, so that being 'green' becomes the norm not only in the UK but in societies all over the globe.
Alberto Sansone
07th December 2010

He was definitely one of a kind, an intellectual giant, I was very familiar with his work but to shy to speak to him when he came to lecture.

He was able to put in very simple words very complex ideas. We will miss you...
Javier Delgado Esteban
07th December 2010

I first encountered David during the CAT MSc January 2009 Economics and Politics module, part of his contribution so memorably described above by Judith. I came away, head spinning with the wealth of ideas and speed of delivery, inspired by his immense enthusiasm, humour and clear joy of engagement. He sat in on several other lectures, ever ready to explore ideas and contribute to the discussion.
Being in close contact with him regarding the organisation of the coming January module, the news of his death came as a big shock. He had just in his characteristically generous and engaged fashion decided to throw in an additional seminar for our students, clearly excited at the prospect of further discussion and, no doubt, expecting to carry on in the pub as long as people cared to continue!
There will be a big David shaped hole in our course, not to mention the world as a whole.
Lotte Reimer
07th December 2010

A truly inspiring man; I feel honoured to have attended his lectures and richer for his knowledge, he will be sadly missed.
A typical student
07th December 2010

I am really sad to hear of David’s departure. He was a very likable person, unassuming and most generous in imparting his valuable and abundant store of knowledge.

I remember, in 2006 travelling from Dingle, Co Kerry to Dublin to attend a environmental conference at the Cultivate centre. I stayed in Dublin and attended the conference for the 7 full days. I well remember David’s wonderful performance. The pace, passion and his singular sense of humour in his delivery of any of his lectures. I found him most entertaining. On the last day of our marathon attendance, which was a Sunday, the stragglers were invited to remain for a relaxing evening. It was a kind of a warming down session. At one point we were all asked to take part in a “sort of dance”. To “sort of” express yourself physically as you pranced about the floor. People staggered about self-consciously, some stood still, others glided around oblivious to their surroundings whilst others leapt confidently to and fro in imitation of nureyev. But David a man of such pragmatism and cerebral veracity, stood quietly, slightly dipped at the knees, right hand held to the mouth -------- in dismay.
He seemed to be looking for the quickest escape through this exotic mayhem. Anyway I approached David “ come on lets get involved ” -- before he could refuse I intertwined our arms in a back to back position bent my knees and danced around with David on my back. He was so funny and a bit terrified I might add. In between his words there was that hesitation synonymous with that analytical forward thinking mind of his.
“ I --- I think --- I have enough of that”. It was obvious though that he enjoyed the whole madness.

We met subsequently at the CAT centre, recognised each other and chatted.
A lovable fellow he was indeed.

Slán abhaile a laoch iontach beidhimíd go Léar i dteangbháil sa bfhlaitheas níos dénaí.

Ok ! let me translate that Irish salute : -- Farewell wonderful warrior we will all meet again in the high heavens sometime in the future.

John Harte

John Harte
07th December 2010

TEQs: Probably my best lecture during the M.Sc. course at CAT.... the only one when there I saw more discussion (well, proper debate really) within students at the end, than polite questions fron students to lecturers. I feel really priviledged to have attended one of David's lecture and was sad to hear of his death. As mentioned by Judith, I will also remember for a long time these 2 curves of sustainability ;-)
Long live the TEQs!
07th December 2010

David, it was with great joy and excitement that i listened to your lecture - you were one of the highlights of my entire MSc course, truly inspirational, both in content and delivery! The world is a poorer place without you.
sophie barton
08th December 2010

I had the great fortune and pleasure to meet David for the first time at his inspirational ‘Lean Thinking’ lecture at CAT. I had experienced empowerment through Lean in industry, so (overcoming some shyness) I cornered David afterwards to chat some more… That first chat turned into an invite to tea at his place in Hampstead, which since then became the absolute pleasure I've had to work with David on his book ‘Lean Logic’.

Throughout all our debates, accords, divergences, and the fun you can imagine had working on such a book we became firm friends. David was a genius, no bones about it, but with such humility and openness as to never intimidate. He always had time to give, to listen and to debate, and was always eager to understand others viewpoints and ideas.

David’s passing is a huge loss to the wider world and the many whose lives he influenced. Personally I miss my dear friend, his genius, his wonderful sense of humour, humility, kindness and optimism. I keep with me great memories, our many emails and chats, debating ‘Lean Logic’ entries whilst walking on Hampstead Heath at sunset or the gaslight walk from Green Park tube, lectures and meetings attended together, sharing tea, shortbread, and hot topics amongst his vast book collection, and that (sadly) last night out for pints and a curry we had together just a few short weeks ago. David has been such a positive influence in my life and I do hope I can honour even a tiny proportion of his memory through the work still left to do….

I feel immensely privileged to have known David for the short time I have. He was to me a dear friend, a genius, and one of life’s truly genuine human beings.

Ní bheidh a leithéad arís ann.

Jen O'Brien
13th December 2010

David’s funeral service will be held at 3pm on Friday 4th February 2011 at Hampstead Parish Church.

Any who wish to attend are welcome, and are also invited to join us for tea afterwards in the crypt, preferably bringing a home-made cake, David’s preferred means of catering!

Please spread the word to any friends, associates or colleagues of David who may not have heard of the arrangements.
01st February 2011

I have had many happy times with David and he always took a great pleasure in quizzing me about my farming.I will miss him so much and our walks over the Heath when I came up to London.I have enjoyed his friendship since the Sixties and he will be sadly missed.
Gerard Molyneux
16th February 2011

I missed him at CAT (must have left before he started lecturing there), but I heard him at a FEASTA lecture in Dublin. Interestingly he seems to have been a powerhouse of ideas for sustainable economics on both sides of the Irish Sea. FEASTA folk will greatly miss him: Ireland and UK will need his thinking in the times to come.
01st March 2011

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