On March 2, 1972, just five days off my 20th birthday, a team of experts from MIT presented a ground breaking report called The Limits to Growth to the world. I didn’t get to read it for another twenty years, but it made a huge impression on me, it was the beginning of my discovery of the Matrix, and more to the point, my abandonment of it, bit by bit. Most people who “remember” it as the book that predicted the end of the world by (insert date here – usually 1 January 2000) have never read it…….
What the report did do was predict that within a period of 100 years from when it was published, civilisation would collapse from resource depletion, pollution, over population, and lack of food. It caused quite a stir at the time…. but soon enough, those who must have growth, the usual suspects like bankers, went out of their way to “debunk” the whole thing using misinformation….. and sure enough, everyone forgot about it and went on their merry way to over exploit the planet, and populate it to death.
Just so we all understand what we are discussing here, this chart expresses best what the Club of Rome’s most likely scenario looked like. You’ll notice that apart from the timeline at the bottom, there are no numbers on this chart, it is merely a general idea of what the crude computing power of the time was able to spit out.
Notice the total lack of collapse around the year 2000…?! But guess what, recent research supports the conclusions of the controversial environmental study released 40 years ago: the world is indeed on track for disaster. At least so says Australian physicist Graham Turner, who revisited the report. Turner compared real-world data from 1970 to 2000 with the current business-as-usual scenario. What he found was that the predictions nearly matched the facts. “There is a very clear warning bell being rung here,” he says. “We are not on a sustainable trajectory.”
And this is what his findings look like:
That shaded area is the thirty year period since the report’s release (it unfortunately doesn’t cover the period to this day), and it clearly shows that we are right on track for population to start dropping within eighteen years, and major problems by 2050. In fact, Turner seems to think population will start collapsing 20 years before the Club of Rome thought it would……
And I still have people writing to me saying it’s all a load of rubbish, we have a Premier who thinks we can run our transport system on old tyres and carpets, and economists are still talking up a “recovery”…. Don’t know about you, but I feel like screaming.
Out of the blue, I found this great presentation given at the 2009 Commemorative Lecture by Dr. Dennis L. Meadows, one of the authors of The Limits to Growth Report. It’s long at 48 minutes, but do yourself a favour, make yourself a cup of your favourite poison, and watch it to the fascinating end……..