The Limits To Growth

Even as early as 1968, the oligarchs knew that our way of life was unsustainable. The Limits of Growth is a must read to help in understanding that our way of life, a life based on consumption, is void and self-destructive. Below is the Forward to the Limits To Growth. Click on this link to read the full document Limits-to-Growth-digital-scan-version.

A Report for THE CLUB OF ROME’S Project on the
Predicament of Mankind.

IN APRIL 1968, a group of thirty individuals from ten
countries-scientists, educators, economists, humanists, industrialists,
and national and international civil servants-gathered
in the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome. They met at the instigation
of Dr. Aurelio Peccei, an Italian industrial manager,
economist, and man of vision, to discuss a subject of staggering
scope-the present and future predicament of man.

Out of this meeting grew The Club of Rome, an informal
organization that has been aptly described as an “invisible
college.” Its purposes are to foster understanding of the varied
but interdependent components-economic, political, natural,
and social-that make up the global system in which we all
live; to bring that new understanding to the attention of
policy-makers and the public worldwide; and in this way to
promote new policy initiatives and action.
The Club of Rome remains an informal international association,
with a membership that has now grown to approximately
seventy persons of twenty-five nationalities. None of its
members holds public office, nor does the group seek to express
any single ideological, political, or national point of view. All
are united, however, by their overriding conviction that the
major problems facing mankind are of such complexity and
are so interrelated that traditional institutions and policies are
no longer able to cope with them, nor even to come to grips
with their full content.
The members of The Club of Rome have backgrounds as
varied as their nationalities. Dr. Peccei, still the prime moving
force within the group, is affiliated with Fiat and Olivetti and
manages a consulting firm for economic and engineering
development, ltalconsult, one of the largest of its kind in
Europe. Other leaders of The Club of Rome include: Hugo
Thiemann, head of the Battelle Institute in Geneva; Alexander
King, scientific director of the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development; Saburo Okita, head of the
Japan Economic Research Center in Tokyo; Eduard Pestel
of the Technical University of Hannover, Germany; and
Carroll Wilson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Although membership in The Club of Rome is limited, and
will not exceed one hundred, it is being expanded to include
representatives of an ever greater variety of cultures, nationalities,
and value systems.
A series of early meetings of The Club of Rome culminated
in the decision to initiate a remarkably ambitious undertaking
-the Project on the Predicament of Mankind.
The intent of the project is to examine the complex of
problems troubling men of all nations: poverty in the midst
of plenty; degradation of the environment; loss of faith in
institutions; uncontrolled urban spread; insecurity of employment;
alienation of youth; rejection of traditional values; and
inflation and other monetary and economic disruptions. These
seemingly divergent parts of the “world problematique,” as
The Club of Rome calls it, have three characteristics in com-
mon: they occur to some degree in all societies; they contain
technical, social, economic, and political elements; and, most
important of all, they interact.
It is the predicament of mankind that man can perceive the
problematique, yet, despite his considerable knowledge and
skills, he does not understand the origins, significance, and
interrelationships of its many components and thus is unable
to devise effective responses. This failure occurs in large part
because we continue to examine single items in the problemarique
without understanding that the whole is more than the
sum of its parts, that change in one element means change in
the others.
Phase One of the Project on the Predicament of Mankind
took definite shape at meetings held in the summer of 1970 in
Bern, Switzerland, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. At a twoweek
conference in Cambridge, Professor Jay Forrester of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) presented a
global model that permitted clear identification of many specific
components of the problematique and suggested a technique
for analyzing the behavior and relationships of the most
important of those components. This presentation led to initiation
of Phase One at MIT, where the pioneering work of Professor
Forrester and others in the field of System Dynamics had
created a body of expertise uniquely suited to the research
The Phase One study was conducted by an international
team, under the direction of Professor Dennis Meadows, with
financial support from the Volkswagen Foundation. The
team examined the five basic factors that determine, and therefore,
ultimately limit, growth on this planet-population, agricultural
production, natural resources, industrial production,
and pollution. The research has now been completed. This
book is the first account of the findings published for general
It is with genuine pride and pleasure that Potomac Associates
joins with The Club of Rome and the MIT research team in
the publication of The Limits to Growth.
We, like The Club of Rome, are a young organization, and
we believe the Club’s goals are very close to our own. Our
purpose is to bring new ideas, new analyses, and new approaches
to persistent. problems-both national and international-
to the attention of all those who care about and help
determine the quality and direction of our life. We are delighted
therefore to be able to make this bold and impressive
work available through our book program.
We hope that The Limits to Growth will command critical
attention and spark debate in all societies. We hope that it will
encourage each reader to think through the consequences of
continuing to equate growth with progress. And we hope
that it will lead thoughtful men and women in all fields of
endeavor to consider the need for concerted action now if we
are to preserve the habitability of this planet for ourselves
and our children.

William Watts, President

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