“The limits to growth”, a prescient classic according to Nature
While Nations gathered in Paris to negotiate an international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, Nature magazine published a special “Paris Climate Talk” edition in the run-up to COP21. For this issue, Nature asked Adam Rome, environmental historian at the University of Delaware in Newark, to revisit the classics that first made sustainability a public issue in the 1960s and 1970s.
The five books identified as the most influential are (in chronological order):
- The Meaning of the Twentieth Century: The Great Transition by Kenneth E. Boulding (1964)
- Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth by R. Buckminster Fuller (1969)
- The Closing Circle: Nature, Man, and Technology by Barry Commoner (1971)
- The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind by Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III (1972)
- Only One Earth: The Care and Maintenance of a Small Planet by Barbara Ward and René DuBos (1972)
Why were these 5 books selected as the as pioneering books? “They had a freshness, urgency and breadth that are hard to credit today, and they are still remarkably relevant” writes Prof. Rome. The authors were all “big-picture, interdisciplinary thinkers par excellence”. These books portray sustainability not just an environmental challenge but something bigger than that. They explain that to develop a sustainable society, we need a to think holistically. We are proud that the Club’s “The Limits to Growth” is one of the selected titles.
Read “Sustainability: The launch of Spaceship Earth” in Nature.