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.
COMPUTER PREDICTS WORLD COLLAPSE
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.
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