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

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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 ...
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Overview

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 efficiency of 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,
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1972 The Limits of Growth , sponsored by the Club of Rome and produced by a research team on a MIT computer programmed with a World3 model, created a stormy sensation. Denounced as eco-gloom and doom, the book also became a keystone of the era's environmentalism. Now on the eve of the June U.N. Earth Summit, three of the researchers give World3 another run. Although many books and reports examine ``sustainability,'' the authors provide unique insights thanks to their background in systems analysis. Society has gone into overshoot, they argue, a state of being beyond limits without knowing it. These limits are more like speed limits than barriers at the end of the road: the rate at which renewable resources can renew themselves, the rate at which we can change from nonrenewable resources to renewable ones, and the rate at which nature can recycle our pollution. Without being a catch-all on the environmental crisis, the book shows how we are overshooting such crucial resources as food and water while overwhelming nature with pollutants like those causing global warming. World3 runs 13 future scenarios and learns that we can only avoid collapse by unplugging the exponential growth in population (two billions people in the past 20 years) and industrial production (doubled in the past 20 years). If the world settles for two children per couple and the per capita income of South Korea, we can avoid collapse and find an equilibrium at 7.7 billion people through 2100. Systems analysis may sound like an academic specialty, but the authors have written for the general reader and provide a compelling challenge to traditional economics and public complacency. (Apr.)
Library Journal
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 resource consumption and population growth. A number of modified scenarios are then illustrated, showing the impact on the global environment of alternative patterns of allocation and consumption. While its graphs and tables may intimidate some, Beyond the Limits is clearly written, nonpolemical, and rewards the patient reader. Particularly interesting is the discussion of the crisis with the ozone layer as exemplary of the ability of the world's governments to respond to environmental crises. However, it is the fundamental principles underlying this book that set it apart. Beyond the Limits recognizes that the future doesn't lie in tinkering with resource use or simply squelching population growth in developing countries. A sustainable future will require profound social and psychological readjustments in the developed and developing world. Highly recommended.-- Mary Jane Ballou, Ford Fdn. Lib., New York
Booknews
A sequel to The Limits of growth, which 20 years ago concluded that at then-current rates of growth, the limits to physical growth on the planet would he reached in the next 100 years. Now three of the original authors show that things are going even worse, even faster, and outline immediate actions necessary to bring demands on material resources within limits. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780930031558
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
A Note on Language
Ch. 1 Overshoot 1
Ch. 2 The Driving Force: Exponential Growth 14
The Mathematics of Exponential Growth 15
Things That Grow Exponentially 20
World Population Growth 23
World Industrial Growth 33
More Poverty, More People, More Poverty 37
Ch. 3 The Limits: Sources and Sinks 44
Renewable Resources 47
Nonrenewable Resources 66
Sinks for Pollution and Wastes 86
Beyond the Limits to Throughput 97
Ch. 4 The Dynamics of Growth in a Finite World 104
The Purpose and Structure of World3 105
Limits and No Limits 115
Limits and Delays 120
Overshoot and Collapse 128
World3: Two Possible Scenarios 130
Why Overshoot and Collapse? 137
Ch. 5 Back from Beyond the Limits: The Ozone Story 141
The Growth 142
The Limit 144
The First Signals 147
The First Response 149
Erosion: The Ozone Hole 150
The Next Response 154
Getting Along without CFCs 157
The Moral of the Story? 159
Ch. 6 Technology, Markets, and Overshoot 161
Technology and Markets in the "Real World" 163
Stretching the Limits with Technology in World3 167
Why Technology and Markets Alone Can't Avoid Overshoot 179
Technology, Markets, and the Destruction of Fisheries 185
A Summary 188
Ch. 7 Transitions to a Sustainable System 190
Deliberate Constraints on Growth 193
Constraints on Growth plus Improved Technologies 198
The Difference Twenty Years Can Make 201
How High Is Too High? 204
The Sustainable Society 209
Ch. 8 Overshoot But Not Collapse 218
The First Two Revolutions: Agriculture and Industry 219
The Next Revolution: Sustainability 222
Visioning 224
Networking 227
Truth-telling 228
Learning 231
Loving 233
Appendix: Research and Teaching with World3 237
Endnotes 254
Annotated Bibliography 267
Glossary of Systems Terms 275
List of Tables and Figures With Sources 280
Index 292
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