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The Limits to Growth

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  450 ratings  ·  51 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
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.
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
"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.
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 timeli
Danielle B
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
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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'.
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ecology, science
A life-changing book.
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.
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!
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."
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.
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.
Kee Alicia
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing insights and analytics about predicament of mankind
Peter Roberts
It will be very interesting to read this serious book that was published way back in 1972, to see what clever and well-informed people believed would happen by the year 2017. By reading this book, I can compare their views with what actually happened.
Also, I note that a sequel "The 30 year update" was published, which I shall also read, so that I can see whether my views on what has happened match with their views.
It will be a most interesting exercise.
Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To read about it on the Internet, this book is apparently famous and infamous among different circles. To read it, already familiar with the ideas of systems modeling and in particular with the world modeling it pioneered, as well as to hear about it being "vilified" or "ignored", it's amazing to see how modest, at least in the initial edition, this book actually seems.

This book is a report, from a group of scientists to a non-profit organization, about an attempt to build a computer model that
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
In The Limits to Growth, the authors develop a model to describe the possible outcomes that variables such as population increase, agricultural production, industrial output and pollution generation can have on the future of planet Earth.

The basic premise is that we live in finite world and that the carrying capacity of the planet is likely to be reached soon if current (1972) trends continue.

They start by describing the important, yet ignored or unknown difference betwee
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
This highly politically charged assessment of man's extraction of natural resources, food consumption by a rapidly growing population, our incredible pace of industrial development in the 20th century and the associated exigencies was a bomb when published in 1970. It is an alarming read and warning about the limits to growth with the conclusion that no matter how we look at the data, man will have reached a limit prior to 2100, most likely much sooner. Although definitely dated, it is a worthwh ...more
Bill O'driscoll
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read a 1974 edition of this 1972 book, an attempt to objectively assesment civilization's prospects for economic and population growth in the face of not-unlimited food production and natural resources. These days, the book is most often cited by political and economic conservatives who crow that its dire predictions about resources running dry didn't come true. But in fact this very sober-sided, well-documented book quite responsibly offered a RANGE of possible scenarios for resource use and ...more
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone. (1) No previous knowledge is required. (2) I't's a recurring reference point.
I had the opportunity to attend a guest lecture by Dennis Meadows a year back. He pointed out how critics have misrepresented the arguments (e.g. taking his calculations on the "life expectancy" of resource reserves as predictions) and yet, despite all the (wise) caveats made, the model proves remarkably accurate. I can hardly believe this wasn't on the required reading list of my topical studies.

It made me think of this scene in the populistic movie Collapse when Michael Ruppert cla
May 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: futurology
When I saw the movie made from this book while in High School, in 1973, its message was so powerful (a collapse of the world economic system was more than likely to happen around 2025) that it moved me, and probably a few others, to decide upon studies in political science. There are indeed major issues with the world order as it stands today and it should not be allowed to continue without major, in-depth changes.

This book, however, is too technical - loads of computer diagrams of f
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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