Should there be limits to growth in order to prevent environmental degradation? Why or why not?

Essay by jalzaUniversity, Bachelor'sB, May 2009

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IntroductionIf world leaders had listened to Dennis Meadows when 'The Limits to Growth' was published in 1972, humanity might not be in the climate fix it's in today. Instead, the MIT professor's warnings to open society's eyes to the threats to sustainability, resource depletion and environmental damage were initially ridiculed. The efforts to show how policies could lead toward either sustainability or collapse were ignored as well.

Politicians should have paid attention. Creating sustainable systems does not happen overnight. It requires looking ahead decades. But if you tell a society that it is addicted to growth and it will be better off giving it up, it would laugh at you.

In 1972, global population and consumption were still below the planet's long-term carrying capacity. It was only necessary to slow down and then stop. Now, they are far above, about 35% above according to Wackernagel's Global Ecological Footprint analysis, and the problem is to figure out how we can get back down below the sustainable limits.

While 'limits to growth' sounds restrictive, it just means that there are guidelines to which we must follow that does not allow us to recklessly reap profit at the expense of our planet. I believe there should be limits to growth as we cannot cope with the pace of progression that our world's population and economy is currently moving at today, and it is destroying our environment in the process. This essay aims to elucidate the factors which determine the success of policies to limit our growth, such as the willingness of the local governments to cooperate, how human rights hinders the 'greater good' of our planet, as well as the accuracy of the scientific knowledge which we accept as a basis for limiting growth.

Limits to Growth: Unfair and Ineffective; Governments...