Monday, November 4, 2013
The Club of Rome Reloaded
The ideas brought by the Club of Rome with the famous 1972 report "The Limits to Growth" went through a period of eclipse starting with the mid 1980s. It was the result of a campaign of demolition that succeeded in convincing everyone that the report had made "wrong predictions" about the future.
It wasn't so; there were no wrong predictions in the book and, as time goes by, the relevance of the Club's warnings in the 1970s appear more and more clear. The debate on the subject of the effects of mineral depletion on the economy is picking up strength and interest and the work of the Club is more and more cited and reviewed (e.g. Ugo Bardi's book "The Limits to Growth Revisited" and the latest Club's report "Plundering the Planet")
A new book that deals with the same issues is Tapio Kanninen's "Crisis of Global Sustainability." You wouldn't guess that from the title, but the book is mainly a history of the Club of Rome and how the ideas that the Club proposed have fared over the years. In several respects, you can see it as a companion book to "The Limits to Growth Revisited", although more focussed on the historical record and less on the details of the modeling methods.
Kanninen's book is not just about the story of the Club of Rome, but it also includes an extensive discussion about the present crisis and about the factors that have led to a slowdown in the efforts to stop problems such as climate change and resource depletion. It is part, anyway, of the general return of interest in the Club of Rome - being "reloaded" in a way!
Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014)