Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Limits To Growth - What did it Really say? (Ugo Bardi)

A couple days ago I stumbled on AEI’s Mark J. Perry’s April 21st article (yet another regurgitation of Ronald Bailey’s imaginative 2000 Political PR con job) titled: 18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day in 1970, expect more this year.”  This “18” attack campaign is related to malicious attacks on the book The Limits of Growth.  Ugo Bardi who has spent many years studying "The Limits to Growth” points out Bailey ignored the facts of the matter:
“In 1993 Bailey reiterated his accusations in the book titled “Ecoscam.” This time, he could state that none of the predictions of the 1972 Limits study had turned out to be correct.  Of course, Bailey’s accusations are just plain wrong. …”
“Reducing The Limits of Growth, a book of more than a hundred pages, to a few numbers is not the only fault of Bailey's criticism. The fact is that none of the numbers he had selected was a prediction and nowhere in the book was it stated that these numbers were supposed to be read as such. Table 4 was there only to illustrate the effect of a hypothetical continued exponential growth on the exploitation of mineral resources. Even without bothering to read the whole book, the text of chapter 2 clearly stated that continued exponential growth was not to be expected
The rest of the book, then, showed various scenarios of economic collapse that in no case took place before the first decades of 21st century.
Below I share links and quotes from Ugo Bardi’s series looking at the Limits To Growth book and project.  Here you’ll find the other side of the malicious bullshit the right wing PR monster has plastered all over the internet about LTG.
Bailey and Perry provide textbook examples of how ridicule, deception and fraud are the basic tools of choice in the GOP’s propaganda war against learning about our planet’s physical reality, I am working on a dissection and commentary, but it seems important to start with the facts.
Please understand, since I took part in the first Earth Day events as a high school freshman and I'm among those who love Earth sciences, I read Limits To Growth, now I’ve watched a half century get squandered, so it’s personal.  Admittedly, I skipped much in LTG that was over my head, but lets face it, you don’t need to understand the modeling and statistical minutia to appreciate the fundamental unavoidable situation being explained.  It was reducible to simple real life budgeting dilemmas and made all the sense in the world.  If you read it with good faith curiosity.

To me it didn’t matter if D-day was 40 or 60 or 100 years aways, it was obvious that we were heading toward destroying the biosphere we depend on for everything. 
The Writing was being written on our wall, loud and clear and all thinking people alive at that time learned about that new reality.  We learned that the only control humanity and society possessed, was over the speed of the changes and how much time we could buy ourselves for mitigation and adaptation before impacts became overwhelmingly catastrophic.  Then most forgot it and returned to 'Hollyworld' and business as usual.  That will have real world consequences.

Ugo Bardi's blog

What is most impressive in the recent world events is not so much that the authors of "The Limits to Growth" may have predicted with incredible accuracy in 1972 the start of the decline of the world's economic system, evidenced today by the financial crisis. After all, they presented several scenarios with different results. That the "base case" scenario, the one they deemed the most likely on the basis of the available data, may turn out to be right is impressive, yes, but it may have been also a bit of luck.
It is not even so impressive that "The Limits to Growth" was criticized, demonized and ridiculed in every possible way before being consigned to the dustbin of the wrong scientific theories. After all, in 1972 it was difficult to believe that it could be possible to foresee a crisis that was to occur 40 years in the future.
No, what is really impressive is that in the newspapers, in TV, or in the speeches of those who can take decisions, no one is asking what is happening and why.  (August 14, 2011)

A Case Study in the Demonization of Inconvenient Truths
September 16, 2011 | FinancialSense.com
By Ugo Bardi | Professor of Chemistry, Analyst, University of Florence, Italy