lunes, noviembre 25, 2013

The Limits to growth, yesterday and today, by Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero

Originally published by ALAINET on November 8 2013


In 1972 a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led by Dennis and Donella Meadows and commissioned by the Club of Rome (1),  studied the interaction of population growth and economic growth with the finite resources of the planet, employing what was then a new tool: computer modelling.  Employing the most powerful computers of the time,  Meadows et. al. managed large quantities of variables such as human population, industrial growth, food production and environmental pollution, along with certain constants, such as non-renewable resources and the limits of the planet's ecosystems (2).  The study's results were disturbing:  if the rates of economic growth and natural resource use were to continue, there would be a catastrophic environmental and economic collapse sometime in the twenty-first century.

The study and its conclusions were published in the book The Limits to Growth,  often referred to as the Club of Rome Report.  The Limits to Growth sold 12 million copies and has been translated into 37 languages.  It is the best selling environmentally themed book in history (3).  Over the years it has been the object of passionate discussion, both in terms of praise and critique.  After 20 years the authors revisited their study and updated it in a book titled Beyond the Limits. Then in 2004 another further updated edition was published commemorating the 30th anniversary of the original publication.

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