Forty years ago, humanity was warned: by chasing ever-greater economic growth, it was sentencing itself to catastrophe.
Based on forecasts from an intricate series of computer models developed by professors at MIT, a slim 1972 volume called The Limits to Growth caused a sensation and captured the zeitgeist of the era: the belief that mankind's escalating wants were on a collision course with the world's finite resources and that the crash would be coming soon.
The best-selling report told humanity that the only way to avoid a crash was to stop chasing economic growth. The predictions proved spectacularly wrong. But the environmental alarmism they engendered persists, making it harder for policymakers to respond rationally to real problems today.
Find the article about the forecasts of the Club of Rome and how the world really has developed the past 40 years at Foreign Affairs.
A Sound Bite on Limits to Growth BBC asked Dennis Meadows, co-author of Limits to Growth, to debate its predictions, but he said no sound bite would convince people who would listen to people like Lomborg. Yet, this debate is not about sound bites, Lomborg explains on the BBC Today program. It really is about a 40 year track record of spectacularly bad predictions. Limits to Growth set the agenda for worrying about the wrong problems with poor solutions. Hear more on BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme. FACEBOOK:LIKE: That is not a valid URL
Wrongheaded in Rio Tens of thousands of people will soon gather in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Earth Summit: "Rio+20". The participants, ranging from weary politicians to enthusiastic campaigners, are supposed to reignite global concern for the environment. Unfortunately, the summit is likely to be a wasted opportunity.
The UN is showcasing the alluring promise of a “green economy,” focused on tackling global warming. In fact, the summit is striking at the wrong target, neglecting the much greater environmental concerns of the vast majority of the world.
Without a hint of irony, the UN’s official, colorful “Rio+20” leaflet is called “The Future We Want.” But, in a world where a billion people go to bed hungry, and where six million die each year from air and water pollution, most of those in the developing world likely have a very different set of priorities for their future.
Rather than pandering to advanced countries’ obsessions, Rio+20 could do more good for humanity – and the planet – by focusing on the top environmental problems and their simple solutions.
Read the full Project Syndicate commentary in Korea Times.
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About Bjorn Lomborg
and the Copenhagen
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg researches the smartest ways to improve the environment and the world, and has repeatedly been named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 public intellectuals.
He is the author of several best-selling books, an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School and regularly works with many of the world’s top economists, including seven Nobel Laureates.
His think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center was ranked by the University of Pennsylvania as one of the world’s "Top 25 Environmental Think Tanks".
Lomborg is frequent commentator in print and broadcast media, for outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, CNN, FOX, and the BBC. His monthly column is published in 19 languages, in 30+ newspapers with more than 30 million readers globally.