Home | History | Economy | Religion

Club of Rome


IN APRIL 1968, a group of thirty individuals from ten countries-scientists, educators, economists, humanists, industrialists, and national and international civil servants-gathered in the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome. They met at the instigation of Dr. Aurelio Peccei, an Italian industrial manager, economist, and man of vision, to discuss a subject of staggering scope-the present and future predicament of man. Out of this meeting grew The Club of Rome.[1]

A year later Peccei would become the first President when the organization started to grow. He stated that the understanding of interconnected challenges (or world problematique as he called it) are essential to plan for the future. In 1970 they held their first official meeting in Bern and decided to develop the 'World3 Model' and to produce the first report. Two years later, in 1972, Dennis Meadows and a group of MIT researchers produced the first report called 'The Limits to Growth'. In it they question the viability of continuous growth in the human ecological footprint.
In 1984 after the death of Aurelio Peccei, Alexander King was appointed the new President. In that year it was also decided to focus on particular aspects of the challenge, such as governance, peace and disarmament, population growth, and the consequences of advances in science and technology.[2]

The Limits to Growth

In this book the MIT researchers explain how they came about to make various models to predict 5 key factors, resources, population, pollution, food per capita and industrial output per capita. They make some assumptions along the way and eventually come up with 12 different scenarios how the world would develop between 1972 to 2100. In their view, in 1972, it would seem best if the population wouldn't continue to grow but be stagnant, equilibrium.

They had four clear messages to give us:

I found these two comments most outstanding in the book:

Page 81: It is not known how much CO2 or thermal pollution can be released without causing irreversible changes in the earth's climate, or how much radioactivity, lead, mercury, or pesticide can be absorbed by plants, fish, or human beings before the vital processes are severely interrupted.

Page 142: The basic behavior mode of the world system is exponential growth of population and capital, followed by collapse.

On 17 and 18 October 2018 the Club of Rome celebrated their 50th anniversary. During a meeting, Jorgen Randers who is one of the original writers of 'The Limits to Growth', presented a follow up on the 1972 book.
The presentation used newly available data from 1972 to 2010 and compared that data with the models that were created in 1972. The outcome was that in part the 1972 predictions were correct; For population, industrial output and resources they were within the predicted model. Only for pollution and food per capita there were slight off.
During the presentation Jorgen also introduced a new book called '2052 - A Global Forecast for the Next Forty years'. In this book they try to predict the future from 2010 onwards to 2052. This includes a temperature development in which they predict it to rise by another 1 to 1.5 degrees Celcius, and a comparison if we would phase out fossil fuels.

The book in itself is genuine in that sense that is tries to depict the outcome if we continue as we are, and what should we do to counteract the possible disastrous outcome. They do assume that the resources on this planet are finite, and of course it is hard to predict a future without knowing the future technological inventions that might benefit us.
In a way I can follow the outcome, as the greater the population, the more resources are required. Especially if everybody would want to be on a similar level of luxury.
But when it comes to the new forecast it seems that they are heavily influenced by the elites, focusing heavy on temperature (global warming, sea level rise) and pollution.

Next Story: The Great Depression

[1] from Limits to Growth, page 9
[2] https://www.clubofrome.org/about-us/history/