Limits to Growth

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The Limits to Growth is a 1972 book modeling the consequences of a rapidly growing world population and finite resource supplies, commissioned by the Club of Rome. Its authors were Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III. The book used the World3 model to simulate[1] the consequence of interactions between the Earth's and human systems. The book echoes some of the concerns and predictions of the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus in An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798).

Five variables were examined in the original model, on the assumptions that exponential growth accurately described their patterns of increase, and that the ability of technology to increase the availability of resources grows only linearly. These variables are: world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion. The authors intended to explore the possibility of a sustainable feedback pattern that would be achieved by altering growth trends among the five variables.

In 2010, Professors Peet, Nørgård, and Ragnarsdóttir called the book a "pioneering report", but said that, "unfortunately the report has been largely dismissed by critics as a doomsday prophecy that has not held up to scrutiny."[2]

The most recent updated version was published on June 1, 2004 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company and Earthscan under the name Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update. Donnella Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows have updated and expanded the original version. They had previously published Beyond the Limits in 1993 as a 20 year update on the original material.[3][4][5]

In 2008 Graham Turner at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia published a paper called "A Comparison of `The Limits to Growth` with Thirty Years of Reality".[6][7] It examined the past thirty years of reality with the predictions made in 1972 and found that changes in industrial production, food production and pollution are all in line with the book's predictions of economic and societal collapse in the 21st century.[8]


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