Limits to Growth

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"Jay Forrester who, for a number of years had been working on dynamic systems at MIT, outlined a mathematical model for the World which contained the by now well-known interdependent parameters of population, depletion of non-renewable re­sources, industrialization, food production, and environmental degradation. Forrester entrusted the project to three young researchers: Donnelle Meadows, Dennis Meadows and Jorgen Randers. This was how ‘The Limits to Growth’, the first Report to the Club of Rome, was born. This report was presented publicly at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington on 12 March 1972. ‘The Limits to Growth’ was translated into 30 lan­guages and 10 million copies of the book were sold, helping the Club of Rome gain the world stage.

"With the backing of Bruno Kreisky, Chancellor of Austria, Peccei was able to convene an informal meeting of Heads of State in Salzburg, Austria. This was remarkable, as it is well known that Heads of State always meet in formal settings, which does not help them discuss what is truly important for their citizens. The informal Salzburg meeting of 1974, which occurred away from TV cameras, allowed a number of Heads of State to talk about some of the true problems of the world and the ‘World Problematique’. Besides Bruno Kreisky, the following Heads of State were present in Salzburg: Leopold Senghor (President of Senegal), Luis Echeverria (President of Mexico), Joop den Uyl (President of Holland), Olof Palme (Prime Minister of Sweden), Pierre Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada), as well as the representatives of the Prime Ministers of Algeria and Ireland. Having an informal meeting on such a political level would seem almost unthinkable today and, even in 1974, was not that easy to arrange. What emerged from Salzburg was an increased awareness for the need to assume a collective global responsibility, and the understanding that certain national aspirations, although desirable, can only be reached in the long term within a global context.

"Other informal Heads of State meetings were held in West Berlin, and in 1975 in Guanajuato, a city that is a symbol of Mexican independence. Peccei’s scope was not only to bring the ‘World Problematique’ to the attention of intellectuals, but also to that of true decision makers. The Heads of State meetings, even though they are one of the more interesting activities of Peccei during this period, are not so well known. After the meeting in Salzburg, many other small intensive meetings took place and were followed by meetings at which the various reports to the Club of Rome were presented. Many of the meetings were chaired with great capacity by Gerhart Bruckman, political scientist and member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences." [1]

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  1. Limits to Growth, Club of Rome, accessed November 11, 2009.