Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update

Category: Economics
Author: Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis L. Meadows
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by formerkrogemp   2022-05-20
You might want to read up on their second wager. If they had taken that first wager 10 years ago, what do you think the result would be?

If you haven't, I would suggest "The Limits to Growth." I'm not arguing for "de-growth," but I think your fundamental assumption that we can innovate or Silicon Valley our way out of climate change without inadvertently sacrificing economic prosperity is too late and highly naive.

by tehjoker   2021-10-24
We can't because we are consuming 6-7 earths worth of other resources already. We are already in ecological overshoot. If it was only oil, you'd be right, but all planetary resources and pollution sinks are being consumed.

by spodek   2020-01-05
> the costs of de-carbonising the economy

Global warming is important, but only one environmental problem, so important to consider here, but not the only environmental issue.

Contributing to every environmental issue, including this one, is overpopulation. Humans have altered every continent, reducing biodiversity, introducing species that don't handle local climates as well, or too well and displace existing ones, making extinct species, and so on. I'm no expert, but the situation in Australia looks related to huge cities and lots of farms supporting a much larger human population than had ever lived there reducing biodiversity and resilience to fire, exacerbated by global warming.

People fear discussing overpopulation because they only know of China's policy and eugenics, as did I until I learned of the successful, non-coercive policies of Thailand, Iran, Mexico, etc that increased peace, prosperity, and stability.

I first learned of successful noncoercive birthrate reducing policies through Alan Weisman's excellent Countdown, and of the critical importance of population through Limits to Growth

Those examples show that we can peacefully and stably lower birth rate to increase peace and prosperity and ease all other environmental problems. Steady-state following de-growth works more successfully on a full finite planet than pushing economic and population growth forever, which exacerbates problems like these and increases their impact on humans and other wildlife.

by spodek   2019-12-28
I find Limits To Growth's view more compelling, especially that its business as usual model is still reasonably accurate based on 2014 research

They didn't intend to predict but only to reveal patterns. One of the main patterns it found was prosperity in overshoot preceding collapse of population and standard of living. The Cato Institute and Wall Street Journal describing a relatively short time is consistent with the LtG view, but lacks the half-century of accuracy and projection beyond.

WSJ should say about this piece, "Past performance does not indicate future results."

LtG does suggest what could avoid collapse. At this date it basically reduces to everyone doing everything possible, which is still possible. At the top is to change our beliefs and values from pushing growth, faith in technology, and externalizing costs to enjoying what we have and stewardship.

It's not crazy. Having applied it in my life has improved it.

by ismail   2019-05-08
It would depend in what scenario you wanted to apply the concepts. I find that the best ROT (return on time) can be had by reading research papers. You need to have an understanding of the terminology or be prepared to slog through it. There are some books that have very useful information.

Below are some of the resources i have been using/used:

A brilliant introduction to systems thinking by John Sterman who is a legend in the field.

My review:


Systems Concepts In Action by Bob Williams and Richard Hummelbrunner

Research Papers/Book Extracts:

A Definition of Systems Thinking: A Systems Approach by Ross D. Arnold, Jon P. Wade

Soft systems methodology: a thirty year retrospective by Peter Checkland

Guidelines for Drawing Causal Loop Diagrams By: Daniel H. Kim The Systems Thinker, Vol 3, No 1, pp5-6 (Feb 1992)

More at:

A brief guide to interactive planning and idealized design by Russel Ackoff

Application of soft systems methodology to the real world process of teaching and learning by Nandish V. Patel

An Application of Checkland’s Soft Systems Methodology to the Development of a Military Information Operations Capability for the Australian Defence Force by R. J. Staker

Defining innovation: Using soft systems methodology to approach the complexity of innovation in educational technology by Glenda Cox

The viable system model: A briefing about organisational structure by Raul Espejo

Complex Adaptive Systems by JASON BROWNLEE

Sustainability, complexity and learning: insights from complex systems approaches by A. Espinosa, T. Porter

Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model An Interpretation By Trevor Hilder

Principles of the self-organizing system by W. Ross Ashby

Guidance on applying the viable system model by Sandra Hildbrand Shamim Bodhanya

Embracing Human Experience in Applied Systems-Thinking by José-Rodrigo Córdoba-Pachón

The Need for a Systemic Approach to Change Management—A Case Study by Guangming Cao, Steve Clarke and Brian Lehaney

I have just included titles and authors, not direct download links to the PDF as unsure about copyrights. Some of my copies of the PDF are stamped with the date-time i downloaded. My email is in my profile if you want more.

by spodek   2018-01-11
Limits to Growth, the 30 year update, if 2004 is recent enough.