Fifty years ago, “Limits to Growth” was published, exploring the limitations and consequences of unconstrained growth on a finite planet, commissioned by the Club of Rome. The book has been controversial, yet 50 years later we find that the world has been very closely tracking its “business as usual” projection, marching towards the anticipated steep decline as we hit our planet’s limits.
In a panel discussion between Dennis Meadows, one of the original co-authors of that book, and Charlie Hall, a leading systems ecologist and biophysical economist, we explored what predictions they got right, which ones turned out differently, as well as the implications for today’s world. What are the tell-tale signs to watch out for, actions to take, what are we to avoid, what is the role of carbon and the energy transition as well as the potential of electrification in our energy system?
This panel discussion was hosted by Jan-Pieter Oosterom, President of the Biophysical Economics Institute.
Dennis Meadows is the Emeritus Professor of Systems Management at MIT. He co-authored the pioneering book The Limits to Growth, which analyzed the long-term consequences of unconstrained resource consumption driven by population and economic growth on a finite planet, commissioned by the Club of Rome. He was director of the “Club of Rome Project on the Predicament of Mankind” at MIT. Furthermore, Meadows has been a tenured professor in faculties of management, engineering, and social sciences. He has received numerous awards and is the recipient of four honorary doctorates for his contributions to environmental education.
Charles Hall received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina from the great systems ecologist Howard Odum. He was professor at Cornell University, the University of Montana and SUNY. He is especially well known within the scientific community for initiating and developing (with colleagues) the concepts of EROI (Energy Return on Investment) and BioPhysical Economics. He is the author of 14 books and more than 300 peer-reviewed papers, many in the top journals. During his mid-career, he turned his main interests from systems analysis and modeling of the energetics of natural ecosystems to increasingly, human-dominated “economic” systems. He is also a director at the Biophysical Economics Institute and co-chair of its advisory board.
Recap of "Limits to Growth" and Its Significance 50 years On
by Charlie Hall
Dennis Meadows: What did we get right and what did we miss?
The tell-tale signs to watch out for that we are hitting our limits and sectors to watch
Dennis Meadows: What we can do now to promote a better outcome