In my mind, there are two kinds of horror in this world. There is the fictional, grotesque horror stories, with over the top blood and gore, where the suspense kicks in, your heart pounding while sitting on the edge of your seat (my favourite is Alien). And there is the true horror stories. Like this book, ‘The Limits to Growth’.
I was supposed to read this for a module called, Global Challenges, in the first semester of my second year (see how far behind I am). When it was first published, it was brutally criticised, saying it was unrealistic and untrue. But since its first publishing (1972), many of the things predicted, have turned out to be true.
The sub-title for this horror story is ‘A report for The CLUB OF ROME’s project on the predicament of mankind’, which predicts what the limits to growth are for humanity. It was a scientific investigation, led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which took into account these variables (population, resources, food, time, technology economics, you name it) to produce a world model of how the amount of these variables changed from 1900 to 2100, in coordination to growth.
Several models were produced, all showing clear and comprehensive results, but also horrifying results (thus, the horror story). It’s a very readable book, and doesn’t require substantial knowledge about maths and science. Condensed into a small, 200 page book, with rather large writing, the authors clearly explain the models that they produced, and what they mean in terms of humanity’s future.
I won’t spoil it for you, as you can probably guess, the odds aren’t looking great (especially in the most realistic model). Although the authors try and install some optimism into the equation, you can’t get the feeling that when they wrote this book, it was a horror story to shake the world, and would affect every single one of us. Even the most optimistic model doesn’t look so great for humanity’s future.
One thing, when you read this book, you have to take in all the other variables that you can’t measure. Such as societal response to change. Which is stated many times, just to show how subject these future models can be.
The book is filled with quotes that’ll make your heart pound harder than any book or movie that intends to make you scared; since this is the real life scenario, and not fiction. ‘If man’s energy needs are someday supplied by nuclear power instead of fossil fuels, this increase in atmospheric CO2 will eventually cease, one hopes before it has had any measurable ecological or climatological effect.’
Look outside, look on the internet, look at the stories you see. The optimism of that quote makes you realise what situation we’re in.
In terms of how it’s written, since it’s an old book, it uses heavily masculine terms, which does make you cringe a bit, but not as much as the content itself. It’s very readable, and like I said, doesn’t require you to have qualifications in maths or science. The results and graphs are very comprehensible, which makes reading the book even more horrifying, since you understand them!
If you care about the environment, care about humanity, care about the future generations and the wrong in this world, this book is a must read, and will put everything in perspective; and that is something you can’t rate.