Talking About Systems: looking for systems in the news (and not)
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Archive for the ‘Limits to Growth’ Category

Systems Thinking and Sustainability Nirvana

Recently, my friend and Balaton colleague Gillian Martin-Mehers organized a Balaton Group Book List.  The list contains 124+ books by Balaton Group members.

Founded by Dana Meadows and Dennis Meadows more than 30 years ago, the Balaton Group brings together scientists, teachers, consultants, writers, and practitioner to debate and learn in an atmosphere, with the highest academic standards, free of political and economic pressures.

While the focus of this book list is quite diverse — from general books focused on “thinking about systems” to more specific books focused on water, energy, culture, money, climate, new business and community models, use of educational games, folktales and more — they all share a common focus on systems thinking, systems dynamics and sustainable development.

My all-time favorite — Dana Meadow’s Global Citizen –is here of course.  In her warm yet direct style, Dana invites us all to see the world as an interconnected system, of which we are all part and for which we are all responsible.


“Limits to Growth” turns 40!

In 1972 a group of MIT scientists wrote The Limits to Growth.  Using sophisticated computer modeling, the authors — Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows and William W. Behrens III — showed the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet.  The book, which became an international best-seller,  shocked the world and generate a mixture of praise, criticism and skepticism.

Today the  Club of Rome and the Smithsonian Institution Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet in Washington DC are hosting a day-long seminar on its legacy.  You can watch it live on the web from 9.00 am to 6:00 pm Eastern US time (It’s recorded too, if you can’t listen in today).   Here’s the link:

I encourage you to pause for even a few moments today to listen in.  Then sit down at dinner tonight with your friends or family. Ask this question:  how can we prosper on a on a finite planet?  What might that look like?

For good reading on the subject, check out:

Alan AtKisson’s Life Beyond Growth

Tim Jackson’s Prosperity without Growth

Personally, I take my continued inspiration from the last chapter of Limits to Growth.  This chapter focuses on the “unscientific tools”  we can use to transition to sustainability:





… and my favorite,