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The Limits to Growth

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  537 ratings  ·  63 reviews
The price of progress: When each of us as an individual decides to buy something, we first consider the price. Yet society at large has long bought the idea of continual growth in population and production without adding up the final reckoning.
Paperback, 207 pages
Published October 31st 1972 by Signet (first published October 1st 1972)
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David Schaafsma
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment
One of the most important environmental books of all time, which I actually read as millions others did in 1972, largely "discredited" by the "establishment" Pro-Growth industry. It was written by a group of several assembled thinkers--scientists and industrialists, working together, imagine that--of the time called The Club of Rome. It was translated into dozens of languages, and in 1979, some U. S. poll had it that while a third of this country was "pro-growth," another third was actually "ant ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A groundbreaking book that is even more relevant today than when it was written.

It was widely criticised at the time and is now often written-off as having been 'widely discredited' - obviously only by people who haven't read the book. As they say many, many times, it is not a prediction - nor could it ever be - but rather an attempt to investigate the "behavior modes" of a connected system of exponential growth and positive feedback loops with finite resources.

No-one can model the future of the
Erik Graff
Mar 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the updates, yes
Recommended to Erik by: Einar Graff
Shelves: sciences
This, with Ehrlich's The Population Bomb, and other books about human population growth and terrestrial resource depletion rates scared the shit out of me as a young person. The Chinese two-child policy did reduce the population growth rate curve, but the authors, as I recall, did not predict the global environmental impact of human exploitation of planetary resources.
Shivam Agarwal
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The book which explains real problems we face today. The world model helps in understanding that technological advancement alone will not save humanity from making inhabitable conditions. The suggestions described in the book are something to think about.

Very interested to read the next book - Limits to growth 30 years update.
Feb 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: ecology
I read this when it was just published, as a 13 year old. It made a haunting impression, and certainly formed my world view. The predictions turned out to be exaggerated, but the tenor was prophetical.
"The planet cannot continue on its current trajectory for another century without collapse."
*Checks to see when book was written.*
*Published in 1972. 46 years ago.*
*Goes ahead and books that ticket to Harry Potter land.*
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great study/research and this is almost 50 years old. I am reminded of Small is Beautiful: Economoics as if People Mattered.

Apparently, we as a society, have chosen to continue to push toward the limits of growth. I mean, shit, we just elected Donald Trump and he is already rolling back environmental regulations that weren't even good enough to begin with. His administration is all about ethnocentrism and manufacturing more. America needs to manufacture less. This economy is more service orient
Jeremy Colson
This is one of the most important books I have ever read.
They predicted that the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years, invoking five major trends of global concert: accelerating industrialization, rapid population growth, widespread malnutrition, depletion of non-renewable resources, and a deteriorating environment.

However, the expectation is that as other, poorer nations increase their level of material wellbeing, they too will reduce birth rates and thus rates of population growth. The “race” be
Aug 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting book, not something you will stay awake to finish. Is is made to be read in the early 2000s, so it is a bit late now. Nevertheless, the concepts are interesting.
They explain systemic mechanisms of our modern world and our impact on our planet in a very clear way.
For instance how fertility (nb of children per woman) impacts poverty. How can the global political, scientific, and economic system can react to an ecology crisis (on the ozone layer topic). The reason why do overshoot and c
Bruce Nappi
This book, and all its previous versions, may someday be seen as one of the critically important modern guideposts for humanity. Its wisdom is a cornerstone for both my novels and non-fiction books.

I was at MIT when the research behind Limits to Growth was being started. I followed Dennis and Donella's efforts (primary authors) since that time. I briefly spoke with Dennis about my effort in 2010 to write LIARS! His 40-year experience, with such high international support in the 70's, only to be
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after watching a documentary called Normal is Over, which is also very good and important.

A read like this calms me like a belief in an afterlife tempers a fear of death; a very interesting introduction to global systems dynamics; sixth graders should be assigned this book as required reading; death to blind technological optimism.

However, I do not think, in response to reading, it would be appropriate to exclaim regarding the length of time over which it has been known that pop
Levent Kurnaz
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Classic work everyone must read. Even though it was written nearly 40 years ago, most of the general results are becoming true with every passing year.
Frank Ashe
I thought it was brilliant at the time.
David Mytton
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although completely out of date, there are several key principles explained in this book that are vital to understand, and somewhat unintuitive. Exponential growth is a well known confounder when it comes to what one might normally expect, but combined with modelling potential productivity improvements due to technology and what that does (or doesn't do) to the ultimate outcome, this book does a great job at explaining the challenges we face as a civilisation.

Regardless of the timeline of how th
Dec 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title is kind of clever because to start with they're talking about the absolute physical limits to growth and what happens when we reach them (complete societal collapse), but then later they get onto ways to impose our own limits (you know, to avoid said collapse). Main interesting takeaway from the model was that if you do something about one of the problem factors then all that happens is that one of the others gets you instead - you've got to deal with all of them at once... then lookin ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Kossen
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Important to read these types of books. Provides with an excellent historical perspective. What can be argued is that already 50 years ago scientists were warning that we are destroying our planet. Why has nobody listed then? Why does it seem that governments are only inclined to listen to pseudo-scientists like economists? This is something that carefully needs to be examined if we truly want to make a change.
Stuart Macalpine
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
A pretty amazing book recommended by Kath Lane, in which Donella Meadows system maps Earth's environmental and human systems, warning of the dangers of CO2 emissions... in the 1970s! Unbelievably ahead of its time, and somewhat unsurprisingly written in collaboration with MIT. The system maps still look the same 50 years later only now we think of them as 'new tools'.
Steve Hochberg
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Surprising to find that all the points made in this book (back in 1972) are still relevant today. Appreciated the way they arrived at their viewpoints, was very methodical about laying out the process and made it easily comprehendible. Reminded me of Factfulness by Hans Roseling in many ways mainly with the use of data to shape a perspective on the world.
Apr 28, 2020 added it
I wanted to see what this was all about. I wanted to read it now, 50 years after it was written to see if any of it held true. What I learnt is that a model for the world was developed, but really, it needed a lot more inputs and data to make anything meaningful of the output.
I will be following up on the update/s, but I'm concerned that the world moves way to fast for such modelling.
Kee Alicia
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing insights and analytics about predicament of mankind
Joey Zhouyuan
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Classical reading in sustainability science.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolut must-read for system scientists but just as important and eye opening for everyone else as well!
José Arturo
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has just changed my conception of natality, future and being a human in this world.
Peter Timson
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read at University in the 70's. Still relevant - perhaps more than ever. See update after 30 years.
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, ecology
A life-changing book.
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is very interesting. It's an old publication, but I believe the theme is still relevant today (2019). The discussion is based on logic only and the concept is easy to grasp.
Márcia Figueira
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
"The world system is simply not ample enough nor generous enough to accommodate much longer such egocentric and conflictive behavior by its inhabitants."
Elliot Duke
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Insightful and accurate prediction of the future, good read.
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Donella H. "Dana" Meadows was a pioneering American environmental scientist, teacher, and writer. She was educated in science, receiving a B.A. in chemistry from Carleton College in 1963, and a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard in 1968. After a year-long trip with her husband, Dennis Meadows, from England to Sri Lanka and back, she became, along with him, a research fellow at MIT, as a member of a ...more

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