Limits and Beyond: A Review

Limits and Beyond Book

The book Limits and Beyond, edited by Ugo Bardi and Carlos Alvarez Pereira, provides a 50th anniversary review of the seminal report Limits to Growth (LtG). The following is from the back cover of the book.

50 years ago the Club of Rome commissioned a report: Limits to Growth. They told us that, on our current path, we are heading for collapse in the first half of the 21st century. This book, published in the year 2022, reviews what has happened in the intervening time period. It asks three basic questions:

  • Were their models right?

  • Why was there such a backlash?

  • What did the world do about it?

The book consists of 19 chapters, each written by a different author, two of whom — Dennis Meadows and Jorgen Randers — were part of the team that wrote the report.

We wrote five reviews of Limits and Beyond, covering Chapters 1 through 8. They are:

The following conclusions can be drawn from these posts.

  • Both books -Limits and Beyond and the original Limits to Growth - are very well worth reading.
  • There is no decoupling between economic and physical growth.
  • The general conclusions of the original 1972 report have been broadly verified by the events that have taken place in the years since.
  • There has been a near total failure of communication. The scientists and other authors of these books have worked diligently to spread their message. In spite of their diligence and hard work, they have been mostly ignored, including by those who are fully aware of climate change and its implications.
  • Attempts to cover topics such as "social and geographical justice" may dilute the effort to come up with hard, physical responses.
  • One reason for this failure is that the Limits to Growth message is downbeat. This contrasts with the more positive tone of other movements, such as 'The Rapture'.
Gaia and Limits to Growth

The final thought based on these reviews is that we need a new faith system - one that matches a time of decline and transition away from fossil fuels and other natural resources that are now depleted. One possibility is that we will develop a nature-based faith, something on the lines of a belief in Gaia. Or maybe the older religions will experience a revival. We don’t know; we will have to wait and see. But we do know that trying to improve “communication” will not work - we have to find and address root causes.

We conclude this review with a chart taken from the original report (the dates are my overlay). The future looks grim.

Limits to Growth

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