(Jackson, T and Webster, R. 2016. Limits Revisted.)

Our review of Limits Revisited

“There is unsettling evidence that society is tracking the ‘standard run’ of the original [Limits to Growth] study, which leads ultimately to collapse.”

Limits Revisited was launched by the APPG (All- Party Parliamentary Group) in the House of Commons last Wednesday which showed current environmental and economic trends are alarmingly close to those modeled in the 1972 Limits to Growth, published by the Club of Rome.

The two most significant challenges for the future of global civilization include:

  • 1) Overconsumption of resources

It is suggested that many resources will reach their peak extraction within the next few decades but it also explains that it is not absolute resource depletion that will occur but the quality of resources which decline with increasing extraction. Additionally, lower quality resources will result in increased costs of extraction and overall economic decline.

  • 2) Breaching of critical planetary boundaries

Of the nine planetary boundaries described in the 1972 Limits to Growth, four are considered to have been breached and are either within the ‘zone of uncertainty’ or beyond that, the ‘danger zone’. Once crossed, it is considered that irreversible damage has altered the future of these ecological systems. The boundaries crossed include: biodiversity loss, damage to phosphorous and nitrogen cycles, climate change and land use. Our proximity to the remaining margins is growing increasingly narrow.

The 1972 Limits to Growth sold over 12 million copies and engaged readers in the debate between whether human intelligence and technological advances could overcome the issue of resource depletion and an exponentially growing population.  In their recent launch, the APPG hope to re-inspire the global population to consider the future of the planet and energize policy makers and governments to urgently acknowledge the devastation that humans are having on the environment, mirroring the prediction made four and a half decades ago.