"Limits to growth" theory has more lives than a cat

Thirty years ago, a group of academic theorists called the Club
of Rome put forth the "limits to growth" theory, predicting
disaster for humankind unless we abandoned natural resource-
depleting economic and technological progress.

"Limits to growth" arguments are still championed by
"environmental protection" agencies, the United Nations and other
international organisations such as the World Bank – and the
theory is being resurrected at the current U.N.-sponsored World
Conference on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

But "limits to growth" theories have been proved wrong in a
variety of ways, observers point out:

  • Energy resources are more abundant now than they were 30
    years ago, not less.

  • So much food is being produced that famines are not
    agricultural problems – but the result of misguided
    government policies in the Third World.

  • The air and water are cleaner in wealthy industrialised
    countries that have the resources to clean the

  • And although the Johannesburg meeting will devote
    considerable attention to the assertion that the world is
    "running out of water," technological developments have
    made water available in even the driest areas thanks to

    A United Nations-sponsored ban on Freon gas cost huge sums for
    retrofitting refrigerators and air-conditioners – even though
    the "science" behind it was highly suspect.

    Most recently, the environmental crusade to save the forests by
    leaving them pristine and alone has resulted in fires that have
    destroyed vast swaths throughout the western U.S. – as well as
    the creatures which live in them.

    Source: George Melloan, 'Limits to Growth:' a Dumb Theory that
    Refuses to Die,
    Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2002.

    For text (WSJ subscribers)

    For more on Sustainable Development http://www.ncpa.org/iss/env

    FMF Policy Bulletin\3 September 2002

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