A ‘doomsday’ book that launched a movement 

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Context: Recently, global-level discussions on the GDP-based measures of economic performance have started. It was because the Limits to Growth is going to complete its 50 years.  

The Club of Rome sponsored the LTG project. It was composed of leaders from various fields of human activity.  

The System Dynamics group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) carried out this data-driven study. 

What was the idea behind report? 

It was a system-based approach. It was meant to study the global problems like environmental deterioration, depleting natural resources, pollution, overpopulation, inequality, ill-health, crime, war, and religious attitudes, among others, in relation to the human well-being.  

What are the predictions made in the book?

In case if the traditional economic growth models and human-induced environment degradation keeps unabated, the world system could collapse by 2070. 

It expressed that a tiny change can push a system into an entirely new state. The exponential increase in the rate of change in the Holocene period could lead to unprecedented event.

What fundamental aspects that have been discussed in the book have come true? 

According to report, the global population might cross the seven billion-mark by 2000. Although it was 6.11 billion in 2000, but now it is 7.9 billion. The population of impoverished regions of the world has gone up. There has been exponential growth of the population in parts of the world. 

According to report, economic growth would widen the absolute gap between the rich and the poor. I will also increase the number of undernourished people. In reality, the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening. 

The book has raised the environmental awareness for the first time across the worldwide. 

The natural resources are being depleted, for example, the humanity has disrupted the three Earth system processes. It has led to climate change, rate of biodiversity loss, and the changes in the nitrogen cycle. 

Some contrarian concepts in the LTG Report? 

It recommended “steady state of economic and ecological equilibrium”. These are based on concepts like “de-growth” and “post-growth”.

The “de-growth” societies have to be organized around fundamentally different cultural, social, economic, political, and technological concepts. These are not going to be organised around the ideology of growth from the capitalistic and Marxian points of view.  

Way Forward 

It was criticized for its ‘doomsday’ prediction. But allegations were denied. It was said that the report was aimed to challenge people to find ways of living that are consistent with the laws of the planet rather than predicting a doomsday.  

It recommended changes in the growth model. Such model leads to the over-exploitation of finite natural resources. Therefore, in the context of de-growth options, the Gandhian principles like the concept of human cooperatives can be important. 

As The Limits to Growth emphasises, the question is not only “whether the human species will survive, but whether it can survive without falling into a state of worthless existence”.

Source: The post is based on an article “A doomsday book that launched a movement” published in The Hindu on 30th Mar 22. 

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