This Sustainable Life
553: Gaya Herrington, part 1: How far have we passed our limits to growth? What does that mean?
Five months ago, Gaya's work led to headlines like Yep, it’s bleak, says expert who tested 1970s end-of-the-world prediction. The 1970s predictions weren't exactly predictions, but the headline refers to the book Limits to Growth. If you're not familiar with it, we start by talking about it. We both consider its views and analysis among the most important.
The book simulated possible outcomes for humans on Earth. Those outcomes varied from lots of happy people to billions dying. The authors' goals were to show what patterns we might expect.
Still, people since have wondered if we and Earth have tracked any of those outcomes. Gaya's work does just that and shows that we have a slim chance of avoiding collapse, but a good chance of hitting it. I am amazed at how well those models track so many measurable outcomes in disparate areas.
Our conversation covers her research, what it means, how to understand it, her work with companies, systems, solutions, and how these things affect our personal lives. Limits to Growth, Gaya's work, and what to do about them are among the most important things we can understand.
- Beyond Growth, Gaya's summary of her work
- MIT Predicted in 1972 That Society Will Collapse This Century. New Research Shows We’re on Schedule., a Vice article on her work
- Update to Limits to Growth: Comparing the World3 Model with Empirical Data, Gaya's original results