John Gibbons: The inability of economics to grasp the laws of physics threatens our very existence

Global economic output has grown eightfold since 1950: an extraordinary achievement, but one delivered at a terrible cost to this planet

‘Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist’. Picture: Bloomberg

Fifty years ago this month, a book was published that caused a global firestorm of controversy. Entitled Limits to Growth, it warned that the century from 1972 onwards would, on current growth trends, involve the world reaching and then breaching key boundaries. Those included food production, natural resources, pollution and population.

“The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity,” the authors warned in a phrase ...