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When demand outstrips supply,
This review is from: The Limits to Growth: The 30-year Update (Paperback)
Overshoot: when demand overtakes supply.
I recall buying the original edition of this book back in 1972, and also recall the rubbishing it got from those who believed it was all scare mongering.
The events of the 1970's should have acted as wake-up call, but they now seem like a distant memory: the three-day-week, the power cuts, the petrol rationing coupons (never implemented).
Since 1972, growth has been given a huge boost by globalisation, and the take-offs in China and India.
When this book was published in its 1992 edition - 'Beyond the Limits' - the authors warned that unsustainability was already evident: deforestation, climate change, the ozone hole.
They point to the failure of various international summits to get a grip on the problem.
It seems that our elites are vaguely aware that there is a problem here, and mention it in passing to give the impression that they on the case. It is usually on the list of the many things the Prime Minister is going to sort out before dinner.
The Kyoto protocols were some sort of triumph. But the developing nations, like China and India were not included and George W Bush doesn't seem to be persuaded that there's a problem.
The lack of urgency is widespread: as the victims of Katrina and Rita now know better than the rest of us.
Yet it's all something we know. We all know, for example, that the oil is going to dry up some day, but what the heck? It won't be next week, will it?
But someday it is going to be someone else's next week.
When that time comes, all the lost local skills will suddenly be missed. For that is what it will be: a return to the local economy. Your food, your shelter, your clothing, will all have be sourced locally. In the UK's case it's drop-back over two hundred years, minus the skills that were around in those days.
So, for the third time since 1972, the authors lay it all before us: what needs to be done.
First, and most painfully, there is no time to be lost:
"The longer the world economy takes to reduce its ecological footprint and move towards sustainability, the lower the population and material standard of living that will be ultimately supportable. At some point delay means collapse."
In the chapter "Transitions to a Sustainable System" the authors show us just how dramatic the changes need to be.
They offer our elites the chance to start the changes now, while there is time to manage the changeover.
They all make sense, but they require something more than political action, they require an end to individualism as we have known it. This is the leap many people will not be able to make
Out must go the competition for individual power, status, and wealth which are the engines of the current society. Reflect on that: and you see the enormity of the task.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Sep 2008 12:22:55 BDT
M. PHELPS says:
The striking thing about these series of "Limits to Growth" is teh systematic failure of the predictions of collapse. The world economy ahs grown, world population has increased and far from mass starvation or running out of raw materials the world average standard of living has improved. There are of course areas where people have not got better off, notably in Africa, but this has far more to do with civil strife and the failure to control disease than with running out of anything. I am amazed that people who have been so systematically wrong, and for reasons that were thoroughly discussed in the 1970s, should still be taken seriously.
In reply to an earlier post on 29 Sep 2008 18:39:29 BDT
D. Ballard says:
I think that you would benefit from actually reading these books: it is clear that you have not, like so many who criticise them.
If you were to do so you might understand (a) that the scenarios were not wrong, but rather that the trajectories are proceeding very much as highlighted in the 70s and 90s, and (b) that these were never predictions in any event but rather scenarios.
For what it is worth, the issues were identified as most likely to occur as we approach the middle of this century rather than by this point in history. The evidence is everywhere around us that their analysis was pretty well on the button.
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2010 11:09:27 BDT
James E. Bromfield says:
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Aug 2010 16:27:51 BDT
Jack Martin says:
Have either M. Phelps and James E Bromfield actually read this book?
The "Limits to Growth" predicts that the world economy will indeed grow. It predicts that population will increase, and that food supply will keep up, and that standards of living will improve. It also predicts that all this will happily go on until at least the 2015/2020 timeframe, and possibly even longer.
"there never will be a complete collapse because various nations of the world, such as china, still have 900 million people living off the land sustainably" > LTG does not predict a complete collapse. It predicts a collapse in those parts of the economy and the world which are unsustainable (in Scenario A). It predicts a population surviving the collapse of about a billion or so. Your "900 million" in China pretty much covers it, then.
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