Saturday, April 25, 2009

Japan honours 'Limits to Growth' science author

Dennis Meadows argued that 'human demand exceeds nature's supply' in the 1972 study titled 'The Limits to Growth'

TOKYO (AFP) — Japan on Thursday awarded its top science prize to a US researcher who decades ago predicted that rapid economic and population growth on a finite planet would lead to the collapse of civilisation.

Professor Dennis Meadows led a research team that in the 1972 study "The Limits to Growth," using a computer model called World3, forecast that on current trends humanity was headed for doom by 2100.

Meadows, of the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was the lead author of the study, which became a best-seller but was also attacked as alarmist and opposed to technology and progress.

Emperor Akihito watched Thursday as Meadows, 65, received the 500,000-dollar annual Japan Prize from the country's Science and Technology Foundation for "transformation towards a sustainable society in harmony with nature."

In his study, Meadows argued that "human demand exceeds nature's supply."

Unless the human race switched from exponential population and economic growth to a sustainable system, his team argued, they would "overshoot" the Earth's limits, leading to the collapse of human civilisation.

More than three decades on -- a time span in which the world population has grown from less than four billion to more than six billion -- Meadows said that today he sees even fewer signs of hope.

"In 1972, our projections suggested growth would end in this 21st century, and that still seems inevitable to me," he told a Tokyo conference this week.

"If demand against the planet rises above its carrying capacity, the carrying capacity will decline," he said.

"Growth will not end gradually and peacefully in the distant future. It will end soon and suddenly through overshoot and collapse." …

Japan honours 'Limits to Growth' science author

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