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The Club of Rome on the "Limits of Growth" (1972)

Charting the impact of economic growth on the population, the food supply, energy use, and the environment, a 1972 MIT study (sponsored by the Club of Rome and the Volkswagen Foundation) reached the shocking conclusion that the world’s resources would be exhausted within a half century unless there were a radical turn to conservation.

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Nowadays, more than ever, man tends toward continual, often accelerated, growth—of population, land occupancy, production, consumption, waste etc.—blindly assuming that his environment will permit such expansion, that other groups will yield, or that science and technology will remove the obstacles. We wanted to explore the degree to which this attitude toward growth is compatible with the dimensions of our finite planet and with the fundamental needs of our emerging world society. [ . . . ]

A second objective was to help identify and study the dominant elements, and their interactions, that influence the long-term behavior of world systems. [ . . . ] Our goal was to provide warnings of potential world crisis if these trends are allowed to continue, and thus offer an opportunity to make changes in our political, economic, and social systems to ensure that these crises do not take place. [ . . . ]

1. We are convinced that realization of the quantitative restraints of the world environment and of the tragic consequences of an overshoot is essential to the initiation of new forms of thinking that will lead to a fundamental revision of human behavior and, by implication, of the entire fabric of present-day society. [ . . . ]

2. We are further convinced that demographic pressure in the world has already attained such a high level, and is moreover so unequally distributed, that this alone must compel mankind to seek a state of equilibrium on our planet. [ . . . ]

3. We recognize that world equilibrium can become a reality only if the lot of the so-called developing countries is substantially improved, both in absolute terms and relative to the economically developed nations, and we affirm that this improvement can be achieved only through a global strategy. [ . . . ]

4. We affirm that the global issue of development is, however, so closely interlinked with other global issues that an overall strategy must be evolved to attack all major problems, including in particular those of man’s relationship with his environment. [ . . . ]

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