Limits to Growth: Dennis Meadows (#116 Encore)


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“Our computer-generated scenarios all showed this growth stopping in the early decades of the 21st century, and, I must say, looking back now, it seems that we're right on schedule.” Dennis Meadows led the team at MIT whose computer simulations led to the publication of the top-selling environmental book of all time – The Limits to Growth. Scientists built on Jay Forester’s pioneering system dynamics work to chart future trends of five variables, analyzing how they would influence one another. The five variables were world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion. Their World3 computer model’s business-as-usual scenario did not paint a rosy picture, and many economists and industrialists criticized the study harshly. “Our work challenged the foundations of modern economic theory. It made life for politicians very uncomfortable, and threatened corporations who were looking to increase their markets. So, all of them, especially the economists, really lit out after our work, and criticized it roundly….” In recent years, several studies have confirmed that the “standard-run” scenario turned out to be remarkably accurate. This may offer an explanation of the growing list of environmental crises and the inability of the global economy to maintain the robust growth rates experienced earlier. Learn more at

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