Paul Ehrlich on The Limits to Growth
Biologist Paul Ehrlich reflects on the 1972 MIT study, The Limits to Growth, on its 50th anniversary – including the fact that it has been refuted (poorly), ignored, and confirmed. The study was done by a team of scientists commissioned by the Club of Rome to develop a computer model to simulate the interaction of earth and human systems. It revealed that continuation of the then-current trends in population, industrialization, resource use and pollution would result in overshooting the carrying capacity of the Earth and result in a general collapse at some point in the first half of the 21st century.
The study results were published in the 1972 book, The Limits to Growth, which holds the record as the top-selling environmental book. The book was authored by four system dynamics scientists (Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William Behrens III). Gaya Herrington, whose 2020 analysis of The Limits to Growth was published in Yale’s Journal of Industrial Ecology, described the study and book aptly: “the authors identified society’s relentless pursuit of growth not as the solution to, but the cause of, so many of the environmental and social crises that plague humanity still today.”
“….what is it about Homo sapiens that leads us to the limits as a moth to a flame. Why don’t we stop? Why should we? Can we?” – Brian Czech, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy
Read The Limits to Growth:
Online Read, but includes scans of pages and downloadable charts
Mentioned in Our Discussion of The Limits to Growth:
Limits to Growth 50th Anniversary Events – on Club of Rome website
UN Event June 2-3: Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity
View live on the web The Stockholm+50 Conference: What You Need to Know and Why It Matters
Take this survey before June 2
June 10 seminar: Limits to Growth +50: Can Economies Keep Growing Indefinitely on a Finite Planet? Organized by: Norwegian University of Life Sciences
The Limits to Growth at 50: From Scenarios to Unfolding Reality – by Richard Heinberg
Limits and Beyond (New book April 2022 from the Club of Rome, a collection of essays)
Dennis Meadows on the 50th Anniversary of the Publication of The Limits to Growth – interview by Richard Heinberg
Is Global Collapse Imminent? – by Graham Turner (2014)
The Limits to Growth “standard run” (or business-as-usual, BAU) scenario produced in 1972 aligns well with historical data that has been updated in this paper
Update to Limits to Growth: Comparing the World3 Model with Empirical Data – by Gaya Herrington
Come On! Capitalism, Short-termism, Population and the Destruction of the Planet – by Anders Wijkman and Ersnt Von Weizscker and with contributions from more than 30 members of the Club of Rome What a 50-year-old World Model Tells Us About a Way Forward Today – by Gaya Herrington, now vice president of ESG Research at Schneider Electric and member of The Club of Rome’s Transformational Economics Commission
In this episode, we also discuss these “growthbusting news” items:
The 25% Revolution – film
GrowthBusters Called Me Extreme, So I Responded – episode of This Sustainable Life podcast by Joshua Spodek
Mobilising Humanity Film Premier at COP26 – Ed Gemmel described his nightmare in this episode of the Planet in Crisis podcast from Scientists Warning Europe
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On the GrowthBusters podcast, we come to terms with the limits to growth, explore the joy of sustainable living, and provide a recovery program from our society’s growth addiction (economic/consumption and population). This podcast is part of the GrowthBusters project to raise awareness of overshoot and end our culture’s obsession with, and pursuit of, growth.
Dave Gardner directed the documentary GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth, which Stanford Biologist Paul Ehrlich declared “could be the most important film ever made.” Co-host Stephanie Gardner has degrees in Environmental Studies and Environmental Law & Policy.
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