Media Lifeline: Eco editorial

More and more media owners are adopting green issues in response to an ever-increasing eco-friendly consumer base.

1970: Edward Goldsmith, the elder brother of the notorious financier Sir James Goldsmith, launches The Ecologist magazine. In 1973, Goldsmith (Edward) is a founding member of the Ecology Party (precursor to the Green Party), and he becomes synonymous with the Romantic wing of the green movement, embodied in a yearning to return to pre-industrial (and indeed pre-historical) ways.

1998: A puritanical strand of thinking on the political left has always dabbled in environmental concerns. But The Independent is the first British newspaper to adopt green campaigning as one of its flagship values, starting with the editorship of Rosie Boycott.

2004: Media hysteria about global warming (previously a source of after-dinner speculation merely in dry academic circles) really kicks in, and there are cover stories in National Geographic, BusinessWeek and the major international news weeklies. There's also a best-selling scary book, Michael Crichton's State of Fear, and a scary film, The Day After Tomorrow.

2006: Soon the phenomenon trickles down into lifestyle magazines. For instance, Vanity Fair publishes its first green issue to coincide with Earth Day on 22 April, featuring eco-celebs such as George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Leonardo di Caprio and Al Gore. Hardline green critics argue that the issue represents a terribly frivolous waste of trees. But Vanity Fair repeats the exercise in 2007.

2007: As green credentials become increasingly orthodox, several bastions of the establishment fall to the new consensus. The Tory leader, David Cameron, goes green, as does the Telegraph, which launches The Earth Channel on its website.

Fast forward ...

2009: Our green and pleasant land rejoices when Jeremy Clarkson joins forces with Zac Goldsmith, the son of Sir James and the current editor of The Ecologist, to launch Green Men and Motors, sponsored by BP. Strangely, though, there are new doubts about global warming theories when reports begin filtering in that Hell has frozen over, with several of its glaciers now pushing into Purgatory.