I. Are Limits to Growth Real?
Since 1945, rapid growth of gross national products has been the chief goal of Western
governments. It has been the basis of the welfare-state compromise, the answer to class tension and to demands for social justice in the distribution of wealth and power. Rapid growth allowed workers’ real incomes to increase and social services to expand, without a head-on challenge to the economic privileges of the corporations. It even permitted the transfer of small amounts of aid to underdeveloped countries. The achievement has been remarkable.
By the end of the 1960s, many observers had become concerned that pure “growthmanship” couldn’t go on indefinitely. These anxieties were raised to new intensity by the publication of a thin paperback book in 1972, entitled The Limits to Growth. It is often called “the Club of Rome report,” because that body of industrialists and professional people commissioned it from an MIT team headed by Dennis and Donella Meadows. The Limits to Growth argued that “five major trends of global concern—accelerating industrialization, rapid population growth, widespread malnutritio...
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