Dugald MacTavish, of Moeraki, asks :-

Is there sufficient probability that the likes of the lowering fossil energy return ratio, stagnant world economy, rapid escalation of refugees and climate change are signs that humankind is encountering the "Limits to Growth" prediction of the early 1970s and should thus be urgently addressing the risks of exceeding those limits?

John Robinson, a retired applied mathematician and futures researcher, responded.

There have been many detailed studies of the global crisis. These provide information supporting the forecast of approaching limits, with a critical time around 2030. The list of issues is longer than the few mentioned - the major factors are the population explosion (world population has tripled in my lifetime and continues to grow, while there is no concern) and limits to water, which will limit food supplies.

The process spreads over a long period and many features of a previous forecast have occurred, as foreshocks to the collapse. These include the 2005 peak of conventional oil production, the 2008 economic crisis, the growth in refugee numbers, and the increasing climate change. The past forecast of 'continuation' of previous policies, with no reaction to the global situation, has proved accurate.

You ask whether mankind should be addressing the risks of exceeding those limits. The answer in 1972, when "The limits to growth" was published, and when I moved full-time into a professional consideration of the issue, was definitely YES. The answer in 2016, 44 years later, when the situation has considerably developed and worsened, is that IT IS TOO LATE. We are all part of a human plague that is doing great damage to the planet and to ourselves.

This realisation is difficult to deal with. The society we live in is fixated on growth, and most are happy that populations will go on increasing with no thought that limits do exist. A person with this understanding is treated as a nutter. So how do you teach in a school? Tell the truth, and risk complaints from parents? Go with the flow and pretend that there is time to avert a problem that is all around us now? I am sorry, I have no easy answer to that. Indeed, after a successful career in futures research for 12 years, I have for a long time been unwanted, 'outside the box'.

A summary of the global situation is available in my 2013 book, "A plague of people, how a suicidal culture of growth is destroying modern society and the environment", which can be found (no cost) at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/290485. I, or Tross Publishing, can provide a hard copy for $40.

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