The Limits to Growth

The Limits to Growth

Gaya Herrington

15 years: Sustainable Economics

In the first video of her series on the limits to growth, Gaya Herrington provides background to the history of the Club of Rome and how they analysed the “predicament of humankind”. through their system dynamics model. She also covers her research around The Limits to Growth scenarios based on the original model designed by the Club of Rome.

In the first video of her series on the limits to growth, Gaya Herrington provides background to the history of the Club of Rome and how they analysed the “predicament of humankind”. through their system dynamics model. She also covers her research around The Limits to Growth scenarios based on the original model designed by the Club of Rome.

Speak to an expert

Speak to an expert today to access this and all of the content on our platform.

The Limits to Growth

13 mins 22 secs

Overview

It is well established that since the Industrial Revolution, the main focus of humanity has been around the concept of perpetual growth. Governments and businesses around the world have led us down this trajectory over the decades. This however, is not sustainable and has given rise to many of the continuous critical problems that we face today. In order to avoid global collapse, we need systemic change and ensure we put ourselves on a trajectory more aligned with a stabilised world.

Key learning objectives:

  • Learn about the origins of the Club of Rome

  • Understand the key terminology used in the research

  • Understand the difference between system dynamics and mainstream models

  • Outline the 4 limits to growth scenarios

Speak to an expert

Speak to an expert today to access this and all of the content on our platform.

Summary
What is the Club of Rome and what are the limits to growth?

The Club of Rome is a nonprofit informal organisation of intellectuals and business leaders with a purpose to critically discuss and find solutions for pressing global issues. The Club of Rome aimed to find a solution to the world's continuous critical problems and they did so by creating the first system dynamics model of the world.

Why has humanity viewed growth as ‘the ultimate goal’?

The concept of growth as the core goal of our economic system has been pushed by governments and businesses globally. Growth has been typically represented by increases in GDP. 

Here are some reasons as to why the notion of growth has been pushed: 

  1. Conception that as economies grow, more wealth can be distributed amongst the population
  2. Economic growth is seen as a necessity to facilitate job creation
  3. Growth is experienced as a source of hope (a better tomorrow) and thus has a spiritual dimension

What are the missing perspectives on growth?

  1. Does not mention the unintended negative consequences
  2. Does not align with reality with regards to higher levels of well-being

How is system dynamics model different from mainstream models?

Mainstream models have a lot of assumptions around implicit constancy and most variables are exogenous. There are only a few endogenous variables, and the way they interrelate is limited. 

In System Dynamics, all variables are endogenous and can interact with one another. Hence, various dynamics can occur in systems models that cannot be modelled well with more mainstream ones. Hence system dynamics is better approach to model our global society. 

What are the limits to growth scenarios?
 
  1.  Business as usual (BAU) - This scenario was based purely on historical averages and indicates a collapse occuring around our current time (2020s).  Here the collapse is caused by resource scarcity.

  2. BAU 2  (Business as usual 2) - This scenario also ran on historical averages, with an assumption that we had double the amount of non-renewable resources as in BAU. Humanity can carry on business as usual for a decade or two longer than in BAU, but the collapse is also much steeper. In this scenario, the collapse is brought about by pollution from industrial output.

  3. Comprehensive Technology (CT) - This scenario contains the additional assumption of unprecedentedly high technological innovation rates. It is also important to note that whilst humans are smart, our capabilities are not infinite and innovation rates have never been nearly as high as projected in this scenario.

  4. Stabilised World (SW) - This scenario, unlike the others,  deviates markedly from historical averages. It also assumes high technological innovation rates but more crucially, assumes that there are significant behavioural changes towards prioritizing human services over the pursuit of growth.  It is only in this scenario that we avoid significant declines and maintain relatively high well-being levels throughout the rest of the century.

Speak to an expert

Speak to an expert today to access this and all of the content on our platform.

Gaya Herrington

Gaya Herrington

Gaya Herrington is a renowned environmental, social, behavioral, and economic researcher who focuses on the interplay between these trends and the necessary changes for global sustainability. She is a published author on the importance of recognising limits to growth and the potential for increasing global human and ecological well-being by shifting from perpetual growth to meeting human needs within planetary boundaries. She is currently Vice President Sustainability Research at Schneider Electric, the world's most sustainable corporation, and has held various positions, including sustainability consulting at KPMG and policy advisor to the Dutch government. She has given keynote speeches and guest lectures at various international conferences and is an advisor to the Club of Rome.

There are no available videos from "Gaya Herrington"