Professor Jeremy B William started off our Sustainable Development and Competitive Advantage course by stating “Now [after years of abusing our planet], we need to work hard to make it less bad, there is no longer an option of making things comfortable”.
While this sounds rather alarmist, it reminded me of the conclusion reached in the 1962 ‘Limits to Growth‘ (LTG) sponsored by the Club of Rome in which they warned “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 one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.”
It was this paragraph in the LTG which had many skeptics dismissing this prominent piece of work as a ‘doomsday prophesy’ however many of the elements discussed in the work have since come true. LTG had three main points: first that population and industrial growth are inherently exponential; second that this growth will likely continue into the future and third that the sooner society made changes to address the areas of concern, the greater the likelihood of success.
Sadly this work was dismissed and now we are in the situation described by the professor. While we have made some steps forward in terms of developing more sustainable solutions it seems like ‘to little to late’. Have we doomed our planet, ourselves and all future generations or can we take this harsh warning on its merits and react rather than ignoring it yet again.