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Slamming Face-First into the Limits to Growth

The User's Profile John Michael Greer January 22, 2013
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Executive Summary

  • Escalating costs of resource extraction and associated pollution are key headwinds on future economic growth
  • For the first time in generations, the same limits to growth that handicapped pre-industrial society are reasserting themselves
  • Our economic and political leaders are misdiagnosing the root problem, and therefore prescribing the wrong treatments
  • Remember stagflation? Get ready to experience it again – with a vengeance

If you have not yet read The Tangled Relationship between Wealth & Money available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

The forces driving today’s ongoing economic crisis were sketched out decades ago in the pages of the Club of Rome’s epochal 1973 study, The Limits to Growth.  Mention that book to most people nowadays, and those who admit they’ve heard of it at all routinely insist that it made false claims about the future.

The irony – and it’s not a small one – is that this simply isn’t true.

On the one hand, the supposed "false predictions" cited so often and so loudly by critics of the study are nowhere in the book.  And on the other, as a recent study has shown, the “standard run” future scenario presented in The Limits to Growth has proven quite accurate so far – more so, notably, than any of the predictions made by the book’s critics.


One consequence of the flurry of misplaced criticism aimed at The Limits to Growth is that far too few people have used its insights as a basis for meaningful preparations for the future.  To begin with, it’ll be necessary to focus on the principles that guide those preparations and leave most of the preparations for later articles.  Still, those readers who are paying attention should have no trouble seeing at least a few of the practical implications of the points discussed in this month’s essay.

What made The Limits to Growth a lightning rod for so much frenzied denunciation was precisely that its prediction of a troubled future rested on logic that’s impossible to dismiss.  Put the argument in economic terms and it’s easy to see how forceful that logic is.

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Top Comment

So relentlessly logical it becomes incomprehensible, eh? 
Anonymous Author by tricky-rick-2
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