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Limits to Growth was right

Janet Eaton

A recent Guardian (UK) article review- ed new Australian research showing that the highly significant 1972 Limits to Growth report got it right. The results indicate that the world is tracking pretty closely to the “business-as-usual” scenario considered in Limits to Growth.

The research for the original Limits to Growth report was carried out by Donella and Dennis Meadows and a team of systems researchers working under the aegis of The Club of Rome using complex computer models to determine how factors such as food, industrialization, population, use of resources and pollution would create limits to growth in the future. The model predicted “overshoot and collapse” – in the economy, environment and population – before 2070.

They were discredited and pilloried by the establishment for daring to report results contrary to capitalism’s core belief that growth is infinite. And even though they were off on the timing of their predictions, in 2004 there was a Thirty Year Update of Limits to Growth, which demonstrated that the world was in a potentially dangerous “overshoot” situation wherein the Earth’s resources which could be catastrophic. The trio of authors of the 2004 Update, including Donella Meadows, concluded: “We… believe that if a profound correction is not made soon, a crash of some sort is certain. And it will occur within the life- times of many who are alive today.”

The Melbourne study considers that the first stages of decline may already have started and the authors of the article, who are also the primary researchers of the Melbourne University Sustainable Society Institute study, conclude that their findings should sound an alarm bell. This research is not only vindication for the work of Meadows et al but also confirmation for the many researchers, scientists, economists, NGOs and other experts who have been warning about likely collapse and calling for planned Degrowth, Ecological Economics, Localism, a new economic agenda, and other alternatives to the global corporate economic growth model in order to create a slow and orderly decline rather than potential chaos and catastrophe.

Source: “Limits to Growth was right: New research shows we’re nearing collapse” by Graham Turner and Cathy Alexander (Guardian, 2 Sept 2014)

Dr Janet Eaton is a biologist, researcher, part-time academic and co-founder of the Institute for Global Creative Perspective.

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