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Ian Johnson on Limits to Growth and The Club of Rome

We’re in the middle of a series of demonstrations, essays and videos related to the topic of limits to growth. This is to recognize the 40th anniversary this year of the landmark Limits to Growth study, first published in March of 1972. That study was commissioned by The Club of Rome and conducted by a team of scientists at MIT.

For some reason, The Club of Rome has not become a household word. Most know almost nothing about The Club or the origins of the study. I met The Club of Rome’s Secretary-General, Ian Johnson, at an event The Club co-hosted with the Smithsonian early this month, Perspectives on Limits to Growth. Here’s a brief part of the conversation we had:

Let’s also continue our exponential growth demonstration. Last week we left off with 64 grains of wheat in our beaker. Let’s double that, for a new total of 128:

LTG-Experiment_day81 This is, as Al Bartlett is fond of saying, “just ordinary growth.” In this case the wheat is growing at an hourly rate of just under 3%. It appears this demonstration is going drag on forever, doesn’t it? Please write a comment below or post a video to YouTube sharing your family’s experience as you do this demonstration at home.

If you find this information at all compelling, if you’re concerned about the prospects for a civilization hell-bent to grow forever on a finite planet, please take the Pledge to Think Small (as in small planet) and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do so. Thank you.

Dave Gardner
Filmmaker

Dave Gardner is the director of the new documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth, which uncovers the cultural forces that keep us pursuing growth in the face of overwhelming evidence we’ve outgrown the planet.

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