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Articles by Donella Meadows

Donella H. Meadows (1941-2001) was an adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College and director of the Sustainability Institute in Hartland, Vt.

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Note: Donella Meadows died on 20 Feb. 2001. The following is excerpted from her story about writing The Limits to Growth in 1972. Limits was translated into 26 languages and sold more than 9 million copies.




I was one of the team of people at MIT who wrote a book that created a worldwide burst of media foreboding. It began as a small report. Within a few months we were reading headlines like the one above with complete astonishment.

We didn’t think we had written a prediction of doom. We had intended to issue a warning, but also a vision. We saw, with the help of the computer, not one future but many, all possible, some terrible, some terrific.

In the introduction to The Limits to Growth, we listed three main conclusions, one of danger, one of hope, and one of urgency. The press picked up only the first and the third:


If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next 100 years.


It is ... Read more

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  • Climate change is threatening Arctic critters

    The place to watch for global warming — the sensitive point, the canary in the coal mine — is the Arctic. If the planet as a whole warms by one degree, the poles will warm by about three degrees. Which is just what is happening. Polar bears are walking on thin ice. Ice now covers […]

  • Are we losing touch with good, simple things?

    Years ago, when I went out to my new chicken house and found the very first freshly laid egg, I stared at it in awe. “How did that hen do that?” I wondered. She takes in grain and bugs and kitchen scraps and turns them into an egg. Shell on the outside, white and yolk […]

  • Deregulation in California didn't help consumers, or the environment

    As blackouts roll through California, the New Hampshire Supreme Court cleared the way for electrical restructuring, while a Vermont utility assured legislators that what is happening out West can’t happen here. Why not? The powers that don’t have to be. As I hear people try to explain California’s electricity problem, I wonder whether anyone really […]

  • Let's hope campaign finance reform saves the day

    I will never believe he won. I’ll always think he got a minority of both the popular and the electoral vote. To me he’ll always be President-Under-False-Pretense. The president-elect prepares to step up to the plate. Well, but you know, the Rs would feel the same way if a few hundred Florida votes had tipped […]