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The Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Global Updateby Donella Meadows and Jorgen Randers and Dennis Meadows
Synopses & Reviews
In 1972 four young scientists at MIT wrote a book called The Limits to Growth that shocked the world and became an international best-seller. Using the World3 computer model, the authors looked into the future and sounded an alarm, for the first time showing the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet. Their book gained worldwide attention and became the cornerstone of a global debate on how to achieve a sustainable future.
Twenty years later the authors wrote Beyond the Limits, a follow-up volume that showed humanity was already overshooting Earth's limits. Beyond the Limits again provoked a national debate and galvanized the scientific and environmental academics leaders to incorporate Limits to Growth into the core environmental studies curriculum.
Now Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update brings data on overshoot and global ecological collapse to the present moment. It provides a short course in the World3 computer model, types of growth, and the various kinds of overshoot likely to occur in the current century. While it remains to be seen whether public policy will respond effectively and in time to problems such as climate change, this book makes a compelling case for the vital need for a Sustainability Revolution.
"Updated for the second time since 1992, this book, by a trio of professors and systems analysts, offers a pessimistic view of the natural resources available for the world's population. Using extensive computer models based on population, food production, pollution and other data, the authors demonstrate why the world is in a potentially dangerous 'overshoot' situation. Put simply, overshoot means people have been steadily using up more of the Earth's resources without replenishing its supplies. The consequences, according to the authors, may be catastrophic: 'We... believe that if a profound correction is not made soon, a crash of some sort is certain. And it will occur within the lifetimes of many who are alive today.' After explaining overshoot, the book discusses population and industrial growth, the limits on available resources, pollution, technology and, importantly, ways to avoid overshoot. The authors do an excellent job of summarizing their extensive research with clear writing and helpful charts illustrating trends in food consumption, population increases, grain production, etc., in a serious tome likely to appeal to environmentalists, government employees and public policy experts. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Previous editions are cited in Books for College Libraries, 3d ed.. The third edition of a pessimistic environmental classic presents the essential parts of the original analysis--published in 1972 by four MIT scientists using system dynamics theory and computer modeling--and summarizes relevant data and insights of the past three decades. The authors write that their main goal is to restate the 1972 argument in a way that's more understandable and better supported by examples that have emerged since then. They don't claim to predict the future, but instead present 10 scenarios for how the 21st century might evolve given current growth trends, emphasizing that likely damage to air, water, ozone, fisheries, forests, etc. can be reduced by smart policy now.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Just over 30 years ago a path-breaking book was published called The Limits to Growth. It posited the then controversial idea that unlimited growth on a finite planet would inevitably lead to ecological collapse. The book became a surprise international best-seller and was translated into more than a dozen languages. In 1992 Chelsea Green published Beyond the Limits, bringing the data and the systems analysis up to date. Now Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update takes the analysis into the first decade of the 21st century to show that while the situation remains precarious, there is still time to bring the Earth back from the brink of ecological collapse.
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 up again to update and expand their original findings in The Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Global Update.
Meadows, Randers, and Meadows are international environmental leaders recognized for their groundbreaking research into early signs of wear on the planet. Citing climate change as the most tangible example of our current overshoot, the scientists now provide us with an updated scenario and a plan to reduce our needs to meet the carrying capacity of the planet.
Over the past three decades, population growth and global warming have forged on with a striking semblance to the scenarios laid out by the World3 computer model in the original Limits to Growth. While Meadows, Randers, and Meadows do not make a practice of predicting future environmental degradation, they offer an analysis of present and future trends in resource use, and assess a variety of possible outcomes.
In many ways, the message contained in Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a warning. Overshoot cannot be sustained without collapse. But, as the authors are careful to point out, there is reason to believe that humanity can still reverse some of its damage to Earth if it takes appropriate measures to reduce inefficiency and waste.
Written in refreshingly accessible prose, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a long anticipated revival of some of the original voices in the growing chorus of sustainability. Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update is a work of stunning intelligence that will expose for humanity the hazy but critical line between human growth and human development.
About the Author
Donella Meadows, who died unexpectedly in 2001, was a systems analyst and adjunct professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College and wrote the nationally syndicated newspaper column "The Global Citizen."
Jorgen Randers is a policy analyst and President Emeritus of the Norwegian School of Management. He lives in Oslo, Norway.
Dennis Meadows is a professor of Systems Management and director of the Institute for Policy and Social Science Research at the University of New Hampshire. He lives in Durham, New Hampshire.
Table of Contents
Authors' Preface ix
Chapter 1. Overshoot 1
Chapter 2. The Driving Force: Exponential Growth 17
Chapter 3. The Limits: Sources and Sinks 51
Chapter 4. World3: The Dynamics of Growth in a Finite World 129
Chapter 5. Back from Beyond the Limits: The Ozone Story 181
Chapter 6. Technology, Markets, and Overshoot 203
Chapter 7. Transitions to a Sustainable System 235
Chapter 8. Tools for the Transition to Sustainability 265
Appendix 1: Changes from World3 to World3-03 285
Appendix 2: Indicators of Human Welfare and Ecological Footprint 289
List of Tables and Figures with Sources 311
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