Below is an interview that Dennis Meadows recently conducted with Spiegel Online International, while he was in Germany to attend a November symposium on the occasion of the 40 anniversary of the publication of The Limits to Growth. “… the oil and car industry. Their political and financial power is so great and they can prevent change. It is my expectation that they will succeed. This means that we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change,” says Meadows.
Humanity Is Still on the Way to Destroying Itself
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Professor Meadows, 40 years ago you published “The Limits to Growth” together with your wife and colleagues, a book that made you the intellectual father of the environmental movement. The core message of the book remains valid today: Humanity is ruthlessly exploiting global resources and is on the way to destroying itself. Do you believe that the ultimate collapse of our economic system can still be avoided?
Meadows: The problem that faces our societies is that we have developed industries and policies that were appropriate at a certain moment, but now start to reduce human welfare, like for example the oil and car industry. Their political and financial power is so great and they can prevent change. It is my expectation that they will succeed. This means that we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Several central forecasts you made in the book have come true, the exponential growth of the world’s population, for example, and widespread environmental destruction. Your prediction regarding economic growth, namely that it would ultimately cease and the global economy would collapse, has not yet come to pass.
Meadows: The fact that the collapse hasn’t occurred so far doesn’t mean it won’t take place in the future. There is no doubt that the world is changing, and we will have to go along with it. There are two ways to do that: One is, you see the necessity of change ahead of time and you make the change, and the second is that you don’t and are finally forced to do it anyway. Let’s say that you’re driving a car inside a factory building. There are two ways to stop: Either you put on the brakes or you keep going and hit the wall. But stop you will, because the building is finite. And the same holds true for Earth’s resources.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: That sounds convincing, but is it really true? Will not private companies react to dwindling resources with innovation in an effort to maintain profitability?
Meadows: The really big changes don’t come from inside of established industries. Who made the iPhone? Not Nokia, not Motorola, nor any of the other established mobile phone producers. It came from Apple, totally outside the industry. There are many other examples of this kind.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What about in areas that are under state control or regulation?
Meadows: That’s even worse. Our history with fishing shows that we are destroying the oceans’ ecosystems, for example. And we’re using our atmosphere as a free industrial waste dump. Nobody has an incentive to protect them.
To read the full interview, please click here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/limits-to-growth-author-dennis-meadows-says-that-crisis-is-approaching-a-871570.html
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