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Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update
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Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  422 ratings  ·  51 reviews
In 1972, three scientists from MIT created a computer model that analyzed global resource consumption and production. Their results shocked the world and created stirring conversation about global 'overshoot,' or resource use beyond the carrying capacity of the planet. Now, preeminent environmental scientists Donnella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows have teamed ...more
Published 2004 by Chelsea Green Publishing
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This is the book that poses the difficult question of if intelligent life exists on earth. It is an update of the original Limits to Growth and Beyond the Limits with a couple fewer scenarios. The scenarios all model the consequences of the pursuit of growth measured in terms of industrial output, food, services

The authors describe the assumptions that go into their computer model and observe that the majority of resulting scenarios result in overshoot and collapse and they discuss a couple of p
Serious critique of contemporary technological society

This book is neither easy nor pleasant reading. However, it is not the purely pessimistic voice of doom or the rabid environmentalist tract that many reviews described when the first edition came out 30 years ago. Rather, it is a sort of cross between a primer on budgeting and the warning a doctor might give to an overweight smoker. A good budget rests on a few simple assumptions: Resources are limited; you must plan for the future; and if yo
oh fuck. these folks were spot on when they wrote in 1972 that our consumption and pollution would catch up with the earth's ability to absorb it without drastic repercussions. while the authors didn't take into account class, politics, capitalism, or violence (they said it was too variable to lump in gross generalizations into their systems analysis so left those out, and made it "a-political", but this really needs to be added in, say for example you are super rich, have a house in tahoe, and ...more
I'm kind of obsessed with the 21st century and what lies in store for humanity in the next 100 years or so. I've read numerous books that predict the overshoot of the Earth's carrying capacity, but this is the first book that looks at the problem with statistical systems approach. The mathematics and profound analysis are what make The Limits to Growth stand out from the crowd. The authors explain (within the confines of their statistical model) exactly what needs to change in order to prevent a ...more
Oct 15, 2007 Héctor marked it as to-read
"Reading the 30th-year update reminds me of why the systems approach to thinking about our future is not only valuable, but indispensable. Thirty years ago, it was easy for the critics to dismiss the limits to growth. But in today's world, with its collapsing fisheries, shrinking forests, falling water tables, dying coral reefs, expanding deserts, eroding soils, rising temperatures, and disappearing species, it is not so easy to do so. We are all indebted to the Limits team for reminding us agai ...more
Nick Klagge
A very good, if sobering, book.

The original of this book was written in 1972; this is an edition that the authors updated in 2002, 30 years after the original. The book is a discussion of physical limits associated with the expansion of the human population and economy: arable land, potable water, nonrenewable resources, etc. The authors are systems researchers and they make use of a computer model that describes positive and negative feedback loops for a wide variety of things, including demogr
Muhammad al-Khwarizmi
For the most part, you're just better off reading the news. This book came out in 2004 and a lot has already changed with respect to the global environment. On the one hand, the fears about GMOs aired by the authors have for the most part fallen flat. On the other hand, unforeseen dangers to the environment have emerged, like the prospect of vastly increased greenhouse gas emissions from a glut of cheap energy brought on by exploiting the methane hydrates of the world's oceans. There are interes ...more
A good effort at modeling the economic/environmental interactions of the world and a call to action to help us avoid collapse in the next hundred years or so. We need to put capital into technologies that reduce pollution, increase food/hectare of land, reduce erosion, use resources efficiently etc. This is necessary but not sufficient. We need to reduce the material throughputs of the system by consuming less (lowering our material standard of living in the industrialised countries and raising ...more
Steve Bedford
I have a lot of thoughts about this book. I was worried that it would be a doom and gloom type affair, but it turns out that it was quite inspiring. Sure, it was hard to read in an "Oh God, we're screwed because nobody is going to listen" kind of way, but I think the culture of the US is slowly (maybe too slowly) shifting toward realizing that we need to be more sustainable, which is slightly encouraging.
This is a marvelous book that everyone should read!

Limits to Growth: the 30 Year Update takes a comprehensive look at the original study done by the authors in 1972 and has updated the models to reflect the changes that have occurred since then. Even someone with only a basic high school education will be able to enjoy and understand the topics presented in the work. The authors carefully describe what factors influenced the World3 model. They also take time to explain in depth what the model ca
Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.

As a commissioned report to the Club of Rome, The Limits to Growth uses a computer simulation model developed at MIT to investigate five major trends of lgobal concern: accelerating industrialisation, rapid population growth, widespread malnutrition, depletion of non-renewable resources, and a deteriorating environm
A reasoned and reasonable heartfelt plea for the world to accept the possibility and implications of "overshoot" of the capacity of a finite world. They convincingly argue that if there are physical limits (to resources, sources, and sinks), and delays in society's response to signals of approaching these limits (due to incomplete information, capital turnover, intentional misdirection) then overshoot follows. More importantly, if those limits are "erodable" - if exceeding the limit reduces the ...more
Fenix Rose
Filled with graphs and well written making it easy to read and understand yet full of content.
We dont hear much talk about exponential increases. How even when %declines the affects can still rise high fast because it is % of a larger base. Or talk about positive and negative feedback loops and the interconnectedness of different things.
This book talks about all that. Gives an overview, since exacts can not really be known or measured accurately.
What we can economy really isnt economical, it is
Wow! To be able to come back thirty years later and revisit your ground-breaking original study! Thats what Meadows et al have done here. (Donella died in 2001 and the book was finished after her death, as a tribute to her) They analyze some of the data of the past three decades. It is not hopeless, but the chances of failure are larger than the chances of success.
Their World3 model includes many internal feedback loops that generate the results, e.g. increased resource utilization results in i
The book certainly provides an excellent overview of the potential limits, the consequences for exceeding them, and some of the steps that must be taken to avoid collapse. However, I feel that, while the authors discuss the need for changes in economic and political systems, they fail to grasp and communicate the scale of those changes. To permanently replace greed and short shortsightedness with fairness, equality, and sustainability requires creating a system which doesn't reward or rely on pe ...more
This is a renewed edition of the classic book "The Limits of Growth" written by members of the Club of Rome. The original version of this book was one of the main inspirations of the whole ecology movement. The book essentially proposes that unlimited growth, such as many economists advocate, is not possible in a planet that has limited resources (even if large). The original book is also credited to have resulted in the 1973 oil crisis by alerting the OPEC countries that they controlled a limit ...more
Greening USiena
L'aggiornamento, pubblicato nel 2006, del fondamentale 'Rapporto sui Limiti dello Sviluppo' risalente al 1972 rappresenta uno dei contributi più importanti forniti dalla comunità scientifica al dibattito sulla possibilità di un pianeta finito di sostenere una crescita infinita. In un periodo in cui la crisi economica sembra non aver scalfito di un centimetro la fiducia di politici ed economisti nello sviluppo galoppante come antidoto alla crisi stessa, si tratta di una lettura illuminante e più ...more
Fred Beshears
Great book.

Donella and Dennis Meadows were (and are) unfairly criticized by pro-growth economists for not factoring in an exponential growth rate for technology. They were not opposed to techno-fixes per se. But, unlike the pro-growthers, I guess they just didn't want to assume that game changing technology would necessarily arrive in a timely fashion.

I'm a fan of the Meadows and a big fan of Kenneth Boulding. If you're planning to read Limits, you should first check out Boulding's 1965 paper:
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A pretty good look at why we should be concerned about the enviornment. These were some of the original folks to bring up the issue back in the 70's. I think they do a good job laying out what could happen. They basically have 3 scenarios disaster, limp a long without complete breakdown, and fix things so they get better.

Given how things are currently treding we look headed for the disaster case. The
Pier-andré Doyon
On attend incessamment la mise à jour de ce rapport très complet(la présente version date de 2002 et les auteurs avaient dans l'idée de le rééditer à chaque dix ans pour l'adapter aux nouvelles données) qui a posé les bases de la réflexion du le développement soutenable. Ni alarmistes, ni laxistes, les trois auteurs soumettent une série de données à leur ordinateur pour calculer les scénarios possibles de la croissance économique sur nos écosystèmes et notre qualité de vie. Ce n'est pas une préd ...more
A good introduction to the World3 model that the Meadows, Meadows, and Randers team used to forecast the state of the world for the next 100 years. Based on the STELLA programming language, the models used in this 30-year anniversary edition seek to incorporate additional knowledge and accuracy gained over the past several decades to fine-tune the expected outcomes of resource availability, industrial output per capita, average lifespan, human ecological footprint, etc. The future is not promisi ...more
The first 6 chapters were quite interesting and informative. The last 2...were wishful thinking and your regular hippie bullshit about love and community. You can skip them and you won't lose anything at all.
This book will change the way you think about the world. It is the product of the first computer models that were capable of simulating population growth, industrial output, pollution, etc. While some chapters can be skipped and are quite dry, each contains nuggets that can alter your view of how we collectively occupy the planet. The authors demonstrate that without moving towards a sustainable method of using the Earth's resources, we are headed toward a crash in which industry, commerce and p ...more
Chris Stratton
Finally finished. This was one of the hardest books I've read. I think we better enjoy things while we can. It only makes sense that once resources are used up and are mismanaged that things will go badly. I think the authors did a fair reassessment after 30 years of reflection. While not 100 percent gloom and doom, it doesn't look good even with advancing technology. We are just not wired to understand exponential growth and its impact upon us. We do not cooperate with each other in a manor to ...more
Todella mielenkiintoista systeemianalyysiä maailman tilasta ja tulevaisuudesta, suosittelen lämpimästi!
I have read three editions of this book; it evolved over thirty years, as the authors revised it to track how closely their predictions (based on computer modeling) matched world events. Everyone who wants to understand the relationship between human activity and environmental health should acquaint themselves with this work. Drawback, if any, is the potentially intimidating graphs and data representations; but these are essential to understanding how the authors input data and arrive at their c ...more
Ime'... Imelda
Limits to growth is a non-fiction book that presents the reality about growth by seeing the available natural resources. It is a good book and i do learn quite a lot from it. But i don't know why, i just couldn't really enjoy the book that much. Probably because i'm not that frequent reading non-fictions.

But this book really could explain that growth (only) is not always the answer to everything. We need to see how our resources will be when we applied the growing process into our daily lives.
Bill Woodward
The latest sequel the 1972 book "Limits to Growth" reveals the fact the world has yet to address most of the serious environmental, population, pollution and resource issues facing us. While there has been some progress on some problems, there is much, much left to do. All indications are that the computer models represent a serious, scientific approach to the problems. Anyone who is concerned about the future owes it to themselves to read this book.
Jan 10, 2011 brendan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
This one also made it back to the library.

I had been dosing myself with stellar amounts of reality day after day after week. Finally, my body crapped out on me.

There is a new update due out around here soonish, if I remember correctly. Then I will pick it up and relapse.

Until then I am resigned to committing good acts with no promise of return...Oh, Durn!

Pierpaolo Mangeruga
Probably the first edition had a bigger impact. The "scientific approach" is very important to make understand what could happen if we keep going like this. Authors of course underline that they are not telling what will happen but what are the scenarios that could happen.
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