Anthony Judge – Laetus in Praesens

Significant Bifurcations Triggered by the History of the Club of Rome

As is to be expected, during the extended history of an organization, various initiatives were triggered by its approach as reflected in the reports and declarations listed below. Notably "bifurcations" include the following.

1. The first "Report to the Club of Rome" arose from a project falling directly under the cognizance of the Executive Committee of the Club of Rome during its formative stages.. The Executive Committee had asked the Institut Battelle at Geneva to provide administrative support and act as managing agency for a project Work Group and asked Hasan Ozbekhan to undertake the overall direction of the project and ensure the operational responsibility for the Work Group, calling on consultants as required to transform the prospectus into an action plan. The consultants included Alexander Christakis, Erich Jantsch, and Aurelio Peccei. The "prospectus" in the form of a "report to the Club of Rome" was entitled: The Predicament for Mankind: Quest for Structured Responses to Growing World-wide Complexities and Uncertainties  (1970). Its proposals were rejected in favour of the "Club of Rome Project on Predicament of Mankind at MIT" directed by Dennis Meadows from 1970 to 1972. This resulted in publication of what was became known as the first report to the Club of Rome (The Limits to Growth, 1972). A distinct report was later published by Hasan Ozbekhan (The Predicament of Mankind. In: C. West Churchman and Richard O. Mason, eds., World Modelling: A Dialogue, North-Holland, 1976).

2. The Limits to Growth had been based on the World3 model, a computer simulation model of interactions between population, industrial growth, food production and limits in the ecosystems of the Earth. It had added new features to Jay W. Forrester’s World2 model and was documented in Dynamics of Growth in a Finite World (1974). The accomplishments of this group through the 1970s have been reviewed, by some of those involved, in an exceptionally honest book: Groping in the Dark; the first decade of global modelling (Donella Meadow, et al., 1982). The initiative was also reviewed by Sam Cole and Eleonora Barbieri Masini (Limits beyond the millennium: a retro-prospective on The Limits to Growth, Futures, 33, 1, February 2001). As shown by Graham Turner (A Comparison of the Limits to Growth with Thirty Years of Reality, CSIRO 2007), the original study provoked many criticisms which falsely stated its conclusions in order to discredit it.

Since World3 was originally created it has had minor tweaks to get to the World3/91 model used in the book Beyond the Limits and later was tweaked to get the World3/2000 model distributed by the Institute for Policy and Social Science Research. The original study immediately gave rise to vigorous criticism and alternative modelling initiatives(see Global Model Index, 1995), notably that coordinated through the Fundacion Bariloche (Argentina) and work through the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).

That known as the "Bariloche Model" was first presented in 1974 (A. O. Herrera et al. Catastrophe or New Society? A Latin American World Model. Canada: DRC, 1976). It represented both a response to the diagnostic and proposal embodied in World 3, and a new proposal for the global system. It remains to date the only global model made in the South although such modelling remains an important factor in North-South relations (Graciela Chichilnisky, Global Models and North-South Relations, International Political Science Review, 11, 2, Apr., 1990, pp. 177-185). The Bariloche Model differs from the Meadows Model in three important aspects: rejecting the notion that physical obstacles (energy and natural resources) pose the main threat to the continued development of humanity; being normative rather than descriptive; identifying a small number of key variables and subordinates system behaviour to these — eliminating pollution and natural resources as factors. An overview of many global models was made for UNESCO in 1987 (Wolf Dieter Eberwein and Heinrich Siegmann, Evaluating Long-term Developments by using Global Models, UNESCO, 1987, BEP/GPI/4). It could be argued that in recent years "global modelling" has focused on "global climate modelling" — a dimension absent from the the factors originally taken into account.

3. The preoccupation with "Mankind" had been the focus of the International Futures Research Inaugural Conference (Oslo, 1967) convened by Mankind 2000 (founded in 1964) and resulting in publication of a selection of the papers (edited by Johan Galtung and Robert Jungk, Mankind 2000. Allen and Unwin, 1969). The narrow focus of The Limits to Growth on only 5 key problems was instrumental in the formulation of a collaborative project by Mankind 2000 and the Union of International Associations from 1972 to produce a Yearbook of World Problems and  Human  Potential (1976), subsequently updated as an Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (1983-1986, 1988-1990, 1992-1995) before conversion into an online form (1997-2000) under a European Union contract (Ecolynx: Information Context for Biodiversity Conservation). Its many interlinked databases notably include profiles of 56,000 interlinked "problems" pereceived by international organizations, together with 32,000 remedial "strategies" envisaged by international constituencies. The distinction between the system dynamics approach of The Limits to Growth and that of the topological network approach of the Encyclopedia initiative is discussed separately (Global modelling perspective) and has been subsequently summarized (Metaphorical Geometry in Quest of Globality — in response to global governance challenges, 2009).

4. Following publication by Ervin László of Goals for Mankind: a Report to the Club of Rome on the New Horizons of Global Community (1976) a discussion in 1978 between the author and Aurelio Peccei, founder and first president of the Club of Rome, led to the founding of the Club of Budapest in 1993 as a framework for creative people in diverse fields of art, literature, and the spiritual domains of culture. It is dedicated to the proposition that "only by changing ourselves we can change the world — and that to change ourselves we need the kind of insight and perception that art, literature, and the domains of the spirit can best provide".



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Mar 2010.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: CLUB OF ROME REPORTS AND BIFURCATIONS: A 40-YEAR OVERVIEW, is included. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this article, please donate to TMS to join the growing list of TMS Supporters.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Comments are closed.