The Two Limits Debates: 'Limits to Growth' and Climate Change

Futures, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 16-26, 2011

11 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2012 Last revised: 17 May 2012

Reiner Grundmann

University of Nottingham

Joshua Eastin

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Aseem Prakash

University of Washington - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

In this article we compare the current debate about global warming with the earlier discourse of Limits to Growth (LtG) of the 1970's. We are especially interested in the similarities of and differences between the two cases and therefore compare the policy challenges and lessons to be drawn. While the two debates differ on important issues, they share a technocratic orientation to public policy, and susceptibility to similar pitfalls. In both debates alarming scenarios about future catastrophes play an important role. We suggest that climate change policy discourse needs to focus more closely on the social, economic, and political dimensions of climate change, as opposed to its excessive emphasis on emission reduction targets. We also argue that an excessive faith in the market mechanisms to supply global warming mitigation technologies is problematic. In this respect, we provide a reality check regarding the political implications of emission targets and timetables and suggest how policy issues can be moved forward.

Suggested Citation

Grundmann, Reiner and Eastin, Joshua and Prakash, Aseem, The Two Limits Debates: 'Limits to Growth' and Climate Change (2011). Futures, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 16-26, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1989028

Reiner Grundmann

University of Nottingham ( email )

Joshua Eastin (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Aseem Prakash

University of Washington - Department of Political Science ( email )

101 Gowen Hall
Box 353530
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

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