Limits to growth
“If we, Homo sapiens, are truly an exceptional species, now is the time to prove it.”
Christopher O. Clugston
Is it possible that Homo sapiens is the stupidest species evolution has ever produced?
In 1972, a small book was published called The Limits to Growth. It was the result of a project to examine the growth of human civilization and its activities from the perspective of integrated systems.
The project considered the growth of just five macro activities: population, food production, pollution, industrial output and non-renewable resource extraction. Using a systems analysis approach, which integrated the interaction of these five activities, the future trends of these activities were projected. The projections were made using the historical and current pace of activity as a base case—their ‘Standard Run’ scenario. In addition, several alternative projections were made assuming mitigating changes to the current actual behaviours.
Base case projections indicated a total system collapse sometime in the 21st century if humanity continued on its course of exponential growth. Mitigating assumptions such as unlimited fossil fuel resources or major advances in industrial efficiency only delayed the time of collapse a brief period. The only scenario that avoided collapse required stabilization of population, stabilization of food production, stabilization of industrial output, stabilization of pollution output and stabilization of resource extraction at 1972 levels.
Humanity and, most particularly, political leaders, business leaders and even most economists, have ignored The Limits to Growth message. Forty years later, humanity is still following a growth trajectory. The 1972 base case, or ‘standard run,’ projections are proving to be very accurate and prescient. Collapse of civilization currently remains the most likely prospect. Human civilization has little time remaining to have any significant chance of softening and surviving the projected collapse.
Will growth continue until civilization collapses or will humanity awaken to reality before it’s too late?
You can learn more about The Limits to Growth here.