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Chickens of economic collapse on course - CSIRO

Reducing consumption key to a sustainable future

Based on then ground-breaking modelling, the forecasts of global ecological and economic collapse by mid-century contained in the controversial 1972 book; The Limits to Growth, are still `on-track' according to new CSIRO research, published on 11 November 2008.

The Limits to Growth modelled scenarios for the future global economy and environment and recommended far reaching changes to the way we live to avoid disaster.

In a paper published in the current edition of the international journal; Global Environmental Change, CSIRO physicist Dr Graham Turner compares forecasts from the book with global data from the past 30 years.

"The real-world data basically supports The Limits to Growth model," he says. "It shows that for the first 30 years of the model, the world has been tracking along the unsustainable trajectory of the book's business-as-usual scenario."

"The original modelling predicts that if we continue down that track and do not substantially reduce our consumption and increase technological progress, the global economy will collapse by the middle of this century.

"We've had the rare opportunity to evaluate the output of a global model against observed and independent data," says Dr Turner."The contemporary issues of peak oil, climate change, and food and water security, resonate strongly with the overshoot and collapse displayed in the business-as-usual scenario of The Limits to Growth."

This is the first time anyone has comprehensively tested the predictions of the first, and still one of the most comprehensive, global models linking the world economy to the environment.

"We've had the rare opportunity to evaluate the output of a global model against observed and independent data," says Dr Turner.

To date, the recommendations of The Limits to Growth, which included fundamental changes of policy and behaviour for sustainability, have not been implemented.

The The Limits to Growth documented the results of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study carried out by Meadows et al, who were commissioned by The Club of Rome to analyse the 'world problematique' using a computer model developed at MIT called World3.

TheThe Limits to Growth became the best selling environmental book in history, selling more than 30 million copies in 30 languages.

"In the years since 1972, The Limits to Growth has provoked much criticism but our research indicates that the main claims against the modelling are false," Dr Turner says.

CSIRO is investigating how Australia can address the challenges of economic, environmental and social sustainability facing communities across Australia.

Source: Reference: 08/179


It would appear this study is based on a false premise. The simple fact of the matter is that all operations of civilization entail using up irreplaceable natural material resources (INMR) (natural capital) as well as replenishable natural material resources (RNMR)(natural income). There is nothing we can do to replace the components of the limited INMR (like oil). Using INMR is an unsustainable process. Society is going to have to live on RNMR alone in due course. Technology can only improve how the remaining INMR is used.

The justification for this assertion is contained in my thesis 'What went wrong? The misdirection of civilization.' It is being published shortly.

I submitted this one to roeoz, glad to see it here, however I dont get the significance of the pictutre nor the website referred to. It appears to have nothing whatsoever to do with the Club of Rome, Limits to Growth or the CSIRO. I can only imagine it was an error. This information contained is of the highest importance and to dilute the message with this mixed meaning or have denialists or the uninitated see the picture and pass off the article as mere internet rubbish does damage to the intent of the article. I sincereley hope it changes before the CSIRO article author sees their work being used in this way.

1. Chickens coming home to roost - the truth will find you
2. Symbolised by vultures circling - signifying depletion of necessities for life
3. Picture of Hawaiian village; portrays the simple lifestyle which also happens to be what most people desire. Might come as a bit of a surprise to people who have been sold the pap that the way we live now - in debt and overworked - is actually fun.

If we conserve, that is the sort of lifestyle we might aim for although it would vary in detail from place to place, but a reasonable lifestyle is one where population and habits are suited to local resources. Not too much work. Overwork is the cause of our predicament and unnecessary if we don't have a huge manufacturing and export economy. Of course, we would have to redistribute the land.

You would have problems with this opinion if you have swallowed the myth that everyone died aged 30 in terrible circumstances before the industrial revolution, and you would fear, 'the simpler way' as Ted Trainer calls it.

As to the impression people might get from the presentation on this website; there are courses for horses. Some people might immediately get the significance.

Also, the message that the CSIRO is conveying is well-known to the kinds of people who look at this site; therefore it is more interesting for them to have it presented slightly differently. This press release will be re-published in a variety of forms and, in the mainstream press, it will either be truncated or swamped with contrary nonsense about how we must have growth.

The ultimate message from the presenter of this article - myself - is, "Conservation is desirable and can be very pleasant; growth is unpleasant and undesirable." More surfing; less subjugation.

As for the CSIRO article author... it was a CSIRO press release; made available to the public to use in articles. In no way did I misrepresent the CSIRO.

People with concrete ways of seeing the world are challenged by metaphor and humour, therefore do not see its significance. Sometimes they believe it is insulting. However other people will be attracted by the quirky presentation and will read the article, when they might just have yawned at the idea of yet another review of the Club of Rome stuff. And, yes, it is an important article, which is why I put it up there.

Simmons has also published an important validation of the Club or Rome, if you google it.

I am not sure of what website you are referring to. Are you saying that a link doesn't work? One site links to the original Hawaiian artwork; the other is the site given by the CSIRO in its press release.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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Thanks Sheila, a pretty good explaination, yes, I do look at things in a rather concrete way, I am very well versed all aspects of peak oil, LTG, climate change etc so look at these things in a very serious way. The website I was refferring to was surfinglife as depicted in the caption which (from my view) has no bearing on LTG and its use here still bothers me, however I understand your point of view as you have explained.