Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Planning book: Forty years of Limits to Growth

by Garry Peterson

The first presentation of the influential environmentalist book Limits to Growth was on March 1 in 1972 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, four decades ago.
The study was both hugely influential and hugely controversial, and the authors were quite strongly attacked, often for analytical flaws that their study never said or did.  However, after two followup books, and renewed discussions of peak oil (etc) & planetary boundaries, there has been an increased appreciation of Limits to Growth.
After 40 years it seems that:
  1. Limits to Growth was a pretty good first stab at a global model (look at the number of models based on it)
  2. That the scenarios in Limits to Growth were fairly reasonable  (see here and here, here)
  3. That humanity has avoided some really bad trajectories, but could have done a lot better
  4. And that today, global civilization is pushing up against all sort of boundaries and we require more and more innovation to keep going and
  5. We probably need to have a major societal transformation to create a good Anthropocene.
For more on this, see Australian corporate environmentalist Paul Gilding‘s book Great Disruption, just is based on a similar assessment of the world – and he just gave a TED talk based on the book.

more urban planning books:

Five Myths About Sprawl: a review of "Sprawl: A Compact History"

Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities: Design Strategies for the Post-Carbon World

Ecologist Stuart Cowan reviews The Nature of Order: Unfolding a Sustainable World.

Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature into Urban Design and Planning

Resources of the City: Towards a European Urban Environmental History

Greening Cities, Growing Communities

Book review: Urban Transit: Operations, Planning and Economics

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