The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Friday, August 26, 2022

The Limits to Growth 50 years later: an Indispensable Book


A Comment by Bernard Paquito on the New Report of the club of Rome, "Limits and Beyond" 
Reproduced with the kind permission of the author

Bardi & Pereira did a great job with this collective book: Limits and Beyond. Authors have different backgrounds, cultures, point of views about the Limits to Growth consequences and perspectives.

For instance, the first chapter is absolutely necessaryBardi presents a brief history of this report, and most importantly a history of critics and misinterpretations (e.g., market vs physical factors in economy).

Other authors highlighted that the original messages of the LtG book were misunderstood: “the message of overshoot caused by decision delays was not picked up by the Limits to Growth readership”. They remind us that the most important variable of Limits to Growth was the well-being of people and not the gross domestic product.

Dennis Meadow’s chapter presents a short answer for the most frequent questions about the Limits to Growth, e.g., How can the world’s population be reduced ? Does World3 take wars into account ?

Also, a chapter (written by Gianfranco Bologna) presents the links between Limits to Growth readership, understanding and the current model of Planetary Boundaries, Safe Operating Space and Doughnut Economics.

Other chapters introduce the authors' personal experience and reception of Limits to Growth in South Africa, Asian countries or soviet bloc.

According to the Conway’s law, Pezeshki explains the roles of empathy (at different levels in a system) to provoke social changes.

Finally, Gaya Herrington summarize his work about the checking of Limits to Growth with current data and presents a nuanced vision of tested scenarios. She performed an updated World3 modelization with following variables: population, fertility, mortality, pollution, industrial output, food, services, non-renewable natural resources, human welfare and ecological footprint. Her discussion is brilliant.

If we do not change the framing through which we formulate the questions and their responses there is a little chance that the general orientation of our relationships (among humans, with life, with time) could change.” Carlos Alvarez Pereira p259


  1. The World3 model is a system dynamics model for computer simulation of interactions between population, industrial growth, food production and limits in the ecosystems of the earth. It was originally produced and used by a Club of Rome study that produced the model and the book The Limits to Growth (1972).

    Brian Hayes discusses the model in this video. I came across the video to see if I could reproduce the LTG model in Python. It would be an interesting project. A Javascript version loaded on a website to let visitors tweak variables and see results could 'increase awareness'. It disappointing me a nerd somewhere has not already done this. I have the JS skills if anyone wants to collaborate. I made my own website ( ) interactive with JS. Does anyone here know the model details?

  2. When no more fresh Energy resources available - humans resort to exploit residual Energies put in the past...

    Iraq: An accelerating trend going like a bush fire - replacing spent car engines with older, simpler, less over-engineered ones, built in the past -

    Today, smuggled oil from never-peaceful Iraq - some think is in the magnitude of 11 m/b day - not as most of the International Energy Agencies report: 4.5 m/b day -

    LTG model in Python is ridiculous when built parameterised by the same narrative of our outgoing Western Civilisation - circular, parasitic, weaponised and deceiving...

    The more real-model explaining what's happening in the world, since Jevons in the 1860s - is already put together years ago - in plain English - The Energy Musical Chairs Game.

    Nothing new in it, really, but echoes of the brilliant Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and armies of other - genuine - minds like him - before and after Georgescu-Roegen.

    "Energy, like time, flows from past to future"


  3. I just got the book, already read the foreword, the introduction and the chapters 14 and 17.
    Just like you say in the introduction, the book brings many questions and a forum to discuss the different chapters (for example similar to the artic sea ice forum could be interesting.
    Of course this would be a lot of work, and I have to say that I hate people having ideas without having the time to help, so I won't say more.

  4. After reading the original LTG not so long ago (thanks to a free eBook), I wanted to follow up. I bought Ugo's "The Limits to Growth Revisited" (2011) and am working my way through it now (great book, BTW!). After that, I have "Limits and Beyond" waiting on my shelf.