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» Economics » Topics begins with T » The borders of growth

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The borders of growth (English original title: The of limit ton of Growth) is 1972 a published study for the future of the world economy. On behalf the OF Rome Dennis L accomplished club. Meadows and its coworker a systems analysis with a computer model, which considered the high cross-linking of global processes and made computer simulations possible to different scenarios. Thus on differently highly set raw material supplies of the earth or a different efficiency was counted was set by agricultural production, birth control or environmental protection.


The simulation result of most scenarios resulted in a large, first inconspicuous population and economic growth up to a rather sudden reversal of the tendency around the year 2030. Only immediate thorough measures of environmental protection and birth control changed this system performance, so that also scenarios could be calculated, under which the population of world (with approx. four billion) as also the prosperity to be kept on a long-term basis constant could. The necessary cuts were politically not interspersable.

1992: The new borders of growth

1992 was published the new borders of growth, which let new realizations (before admits for example larger raw material occurrences than 20 years) flow into the updated Simulationen and which took up the development occurred in the meantime. 2000 published Meadows a statement, after which on basis of the today's population of world a stable condition could not be achieved any longer.

2004: The 30-Year update

In the year 2004 the authors published the 30-Year update. In it they brought the used data on the newest conditions, made easy changes in their computer model to World3 and calculated on the basis different scenarios possible developments up to the year 2100. In most of the calculated scenarios the tendency resulted for the exceeding of the growth borders and to the following collapse ("and collapse" overshoot). Also with energetic shifting of environmental protection and efficiency standards this tendency could be often only reduced, but not prevented no more. Only an extremely ambitionierte mixture from restriction of the population growth, reduction of the pollutant output and numerous further individual measures resulted in the tendency for the evasion of the simulated collapse, which occurred depending upon selected parameters between 2030 and 2100.


The borders of growth represent a conflict topic, since they seem to be plausible due to simple mathematical connections on the one hand, on the other hand with the goal of steady economic growth in unsolvable contradiction stand. A way out can exist in a misalignment to a "qualitative growth", a misalignment of the mass production to services and information, which become better and better fair in resources-careful way the needs of humans. By recycling (cycle economy) reserves of raw materials can be preserved. By miniaturization (e.g. during the data storage) a substantial increase in value can be created also in the limited habitat of mankind, which was not yet foreseeable at the time of the study of Meadows.

To control still with difficulty are the population growth in poor regions, the rising consumption of fossil energies with the consequences of a global heating up, the water and power requirement for a ever more intensive agriculture and the land consumption due to progressive urbanisation and industrialization. Here a stable situation to create, is one of the most important tasks of future of mankind.

Critics of the study criticize the updating of existing development tendencies into the future, with which adjustments are ignored by technological, economic and political changes. In addition they criticize that unproven disaster scenarios would be used to publicise strongly from political conceptions coined/shaped visions of the future. The moreover one they are ith D. R. of the opinion that the problems could be solved also without renouncement of growth, and that would outweigh the advantages of growth the disadvantages.

A judgement particularly over the expenditure of 1972, often belonged, reads that the forecasts did not occur and therefore the beginning are obviously wrong already. Meadows actually calculated et al. in none of their studies prognoses, but in each case scenarios, which contained consciously no specific conclusions for the future. Only the basic tendencies of the growth oriented restaurant way should be made recognizable. Also the criticism at the "simple" computer model often goes into emptiness, regards one the complexity of World3.

In addition also the problem consisted of the fact that this study before the oil crisis 1973 was written. This is to that extent importantly that this period profited from highest growth rates in the economy, there one on the point 4. Kondratjew cycle stood. In addition an increase of the energy efficiency was by the mockery-cheap raw materials a foreign word. This changed only 1973, but very suddenly. 1973 were a restaurant shock, which protected however the economy reaching the borders of growth, since thus the Rohstoffverbrauch flattened and was thus to more at the disposal.


The conclusion-finite consequence of a continuation of the past development is according to opinion of the authors of the borders of growth a hunger emergency and an environment disaster occurring under painful conditions, which would dezimieren the population strongly. Since however the same population conditions would be also the consequence of strong birth control, advocates of liberal conceptions have problems of seeing the sense of such measures. Apart from the fact, it seems to be also possible to master a moderate population growth without larger disasters. Something similar applies to production growth: A stop on a certain level is regarded of many as inakzeptable restriction of its rights to free development and development. While a continued growth quite contains the chance to solve associated problems.


A favorable influence the book might have had on the speed, with the environmental protection measures like the filtering by health or environmentalharmful exhaust gases was accomplished. Also might have to be attributed an intensified observation of the climate and the environment to it. Disputed it is further, whether a braked economic growth is really necessary, in order to secure a future worth living, and/or whether the changes connected with an economic growth have necessarily more advantages than disadvantages for the quality of life. Since the growth border the theory of the lasting economic growth cancelling on the basis of the logic, which suggests partly already concrete measures on regional level, developed for the turn of the century and which, particularly in France, is discussed broadly. However it could be proven until 2005 not yet that a society without economic growth can hold the current quality of life.

See also

  • Ecological foot casting


  • Dennis L. Meadows, Donella Meadows, Erich tooth, Peter Milling:: The borders of growth - reports club of the OF Rome for the situation of mankind. German publishing house, Munich 1972, ISBN 3-42-102633-5.
  • Dennis L. Meadows et al.: The new borders of growth. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1993, ISBN 3-49-919510-0.
  • Dennis L. Meadows et al.: Limit ton of Growth: The 30-Year update. Chelsea Green Publishing company 2004, ISBN 1-93-149858-X (English).

Resuming literature

  • Karsten heart man, Caroline Seibert: New perspectives for the ecological growth criticism (pdf 376 KB), 2005.
  • Athanasios Karathanassis: Nature destruction and capitalistic growth. VSA, Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-89-965018-2.
  • Friedrich Schmidt Bleek: How much does environment need The measure for ecological managing. Basel 1994, ISBN 3-76-432959-9.
  • Bob Woodward and Andrew Simms: Growth Isn't Working. London 2006, ISBN 1-90-488206-4, (pdf, 1.2 MT) (English).

Popular-scientific literature

  • Johannes M. Waidfeld: Growth, the mistake, prosperity, a social view, Fischer & Fischer media AG, Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-89950-076-8

Articles in category "The borders of growth"

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