Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future

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Chelsea Green Pub., 1992 - Business & Economics - 300 pages
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Beyond the Limits Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future is the path-breaking sequel to The Limits to Growth, the international best-seller which sold 9 million copies in 29 languages when it was published 20 years ago. At that time the authors concluded that if the present trends of growth continued unchanged, the limits to physical growth on the planet would be reached in the next 100 years. Now, in Beyond the Limits, the authors show that the world has already overshot some of its limits, and if present trends remain unchanged, we face the virtually certain prospect of a global economic collapse in the next century. That collapse is far from inevitable, however. Now three of the original authors of The Limits to Growth, Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, and Jorgen Randers have written Beyond the Limits to help us confront the possibility of global collapse in order to envision the possibility of a sustainable future. They use World3, their system dynamics computer model, as a unique tool to see far into the next century. And by varying the basic global policy assumptions that go into the model, they are able to show a range of outcomes, from collapse to sustainability. Beyond the Limits comes to the following key conclusions. Human use of essential resources and generation of pollutants has surpassed sustainable rates. Unless there are significant reductions in material and energy flows, the world faces an uncontrolled decline in per capita food output, energy use, and industrial production. In order to avoid this decline, growth in material consumption and population must be eased down at the same time as there is a rapid and drastic increase in the efficiencyof materials and energy use. A sustainable society is technically and economically feasible. The transition to a sustainable society must be made by carefully balancing our long and short-term goals and emphasizing equity and quality of life. It will require honesty, compassion, and maturity.

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BEYOND THE LIMITS: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

An impressive sequel to the controversial and influential Limits to Growth (1972) prepared by three of the authors of that environmental clarion call and based on worldwide data compiled during the ... Read full review

Beyond the limits: confronting global collapse, envisioning a sustainable future

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

A sequel to the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth (1972. o.p.), Beyond the Limits uses a sophisticated computer modeling program to project into the next century the consequences of current rates of ... Read full review

Contents

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3
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6
Sources and Sinks
44
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About the author (1992)

Trained as a biophysicist, American scientist Donella H. Meadows earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Early in her career, Meadows was a member of a joint Harvard-MIT research group that developed a computer simulation model clarifying relationships between growth and finite resources on the earth. Using this model, the Club of Rome sponsored extensive research that resulted in the best-selling book, "The Limits to Growth" (1972), co-authored by Meadows and others. Attention was focused on a doomsday prognosis if growth continued unchecked. Meadows and her associates, however, presented options for achieving a sustainable society if there were a movement away from dependence on growth, equity in wealth, and if technologies were used to enhance efficiency of natural-resource use. "Toward Global Equilibrium" (1973) and "Dynamics of Growth in a Finite World" (1974) are companion technical volumes to "The Limits to Growth." They present reports on the simulation models, examinations of economic, political, and ethical implications of the findings, and a detailed description of the computer model, World3. In addition to her research sponsored by the Club of Rome, Meadows, as one of the editors of "Groping in the Dark" (1982), fully articulates that basic human needs can be met in the future if social and political structures, as well as values, do not hinder efforts for sustainability and equity. Meadows states that equity, rather than individual and national-wealth aggrandizement, is increasingly recognized as a major factor in planetary survival. Twenty years after "The Limits to Growth," Meadows and others in "Beyond the Limits" (1992) find that some options for a sustainable future have narrowed. However, they claim that new technologies can, if employed wisely, contribute to sustainability. The book emphasizes social-policy options rather than models. After working for two years on the Club of Rome research project, Meadows became a member of the faculty at Dartmouth College where she was systems analyst and adjunct professor in the Environmental Studies Program. Meadows has a lifestyle that reflects her views about sustaining finite resources and valuing equity rather than personal economic gain. She has lived in a commune, studied Zen Buddhism, and believed that people today are ultimately responsible for a future that holds "unspeakable horrors or undreamed-of wonders." She died in 2001 from a bacterial infection. Her titles include Limits to Growth-The 30 year Update, The Electronic Oracle: Computer Models and Social Decisions and Thinking in Systems - A Primer.

Dennis Meadows is Emeritus Professor of Systems Policy and Social Science Research at the University of New Hampshire, where he was also Director of the Institute for Policy and Social Science Research. In 2009 he received the Japan Prize for his contributions to world peace and sustainable development. He has authored ten books and numerous educational games, which have been translated into more than 15 languages for use around the world. He earned his Ph.D. in Management from MIT, where he previously served on the faculty, and has received four honorary doctorates for his contributions to environmental education.

Jørgen Randers was born in 1945 in Norway. He is the professor of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, and practitioner in the field of future studies. Randers received an undergraduate degree at the University of Oslo in 1968, and a PhD at the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1973. From 1981 to 1989 he served as president of the BI Norwegian Business School, and from 1994 to 1999 as deputy director general of the World Wildlife Fund International in Switzerland. In the year 2005-06 he led the Norwegian Commission on Low Emissions, which "presented a report demonstrating how Norway could reduce her greenhouse gas emissions by 2050". Randers is professor of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School. His research interests are on climate issues, scenario planning and system dynamics, especially on the topics of sustainable development, climate change and global warming mitigation. His titles include The Limits to Growth, Elements of the System Dynamics Methods, and 2052 - A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years.

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