Environmental Context

Limits to Growth

Context and Responses

Limits to Growth

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Context and Responses
Case Study: Population
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At the time that the limits to growth debate was at its height the counter culture movement was in full swing in many Western countries. Young people were rebelling against tradition, authority and middle class values. These young people were called Hippies. The limits to growth argument appealed to their anti-establishment views.

In the 1970s many books and articles attempted to refute the limits to growth thesis. One well-known book was The Doomsday Syndrome by John Maddox, editor of Nature, a leading science journal. Maddox argued that there was no forthcoming crisis. Another well-known refutation came from Herman Kahn and the US Hudson Institute, who put forward a more optimistic scenario. They argued that in two hundred years' time people would be numerous, rich, and in control of the forces of nature.

Over time the conservatives managed to discredit the limits to growth argument and the very meaning of sustainability itself changed from a concept incorporating limits to growth to one that embraced growth, particularly economic growth.

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© 2001 Sharon Beder