Limits to Growth Revisited April 2012

Greg Gerritt • I read Limits to Growth as a young person in the 1970’s, and loved reading Donella Meadows’ columns in the 1990s. This summation is a good reminder that we are in overshoot (using 140% of the annual biological production each year, which shows up as eroded soils, diminished forests, and empty seas among others, and 392 ppm CO2 and the warmest March ever) and that no one really knows where along the curve we are. Several things I have seen recently say that if anything we are so far into the BAU model that overshoot moves faster than ever and collapse seems more likely. i view my work as an effort to prevent collapse by managing the decline in our footprint, and our greedy ambitions.

What we are also seeing in this overshoot is growth moving around the world and leaving new and different places collapsing in its wake. I happen to live in one of the places where the ecological damage of industrialism started hundreds of years ago. And despite 50 years of effort no one has been able to return Rhode Island to the fast growth track.

I remind them that maybe we need another approach, based on the managed decline (not the language I use, but exactly the language of Limits to Growth, so i use it here) if we are to have prosperous communities.

I am getting an EPA award tomorrow for my work in developing a compost industry, To me my work with compost has always been about making sure we can grow food in the neighborhood when the trucks from California can no longer feed us. I do not think the EPA wants to really recognize the latter part of the previous sentence, but it motivates me and feeds more into the idea of ecological healing as the only way forward.

Seeing the video on the Limits to Growth revisited, is just a reminder that my job continues to be staying just a bit ahead of the curve on what folks are talking about so that next year it can be what they are talking about. and some years later is old hat to everyone.

As we say, the hippies were right about everything.

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