Groping in the Dark: The First Decade of Global Modelling

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Proceedings of the Sixth International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis Symposium on Global Modelling. Collects the most significant work in the field of large-scale computer modelling. Extracts important highlights and conclusions from the conference in addition to presenting complete proceedings. Also includes an overview of contemporary global modelling.

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A short editorial appreciation
5
Another way to think
17
How many worlds are there?
105
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Trained as a biophysicist, American scientist Donella H. Meadows earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Early in her career, Meadows was a member of a joint Harvard-MIT research group that developed a computer simulation model clarifying relationships between growth and finite resources on the earth. Using this model, the Club of Rome sponsored extensive research that resulted in the best-selling book, "The Limits to Growth" (1972), co-authored by Meadows and others. Attention was focused on a doomsday prognosis if growth continued unchecked. Meadows and her associates, however, presented options for achieving a sustainable society if there were a movement away from dependence on growth, equity in wealth, and if technologies were used to enhance efficiency of natural-resource use. "Toward Global Equilibrium" (1973) and "Dynamics of Growth in a Finite World" (1974) are companion technical volumes to "The Limits to Growth." They present reports on the simulation models, examinations of economic, political, and ethical implications of the findings, and a detailed description of the computer model, World3. In addition to her research sponsored by the Club of Rome, Meadows, as one of the editors of "Groping in the Dark" (1982), fully articulates that basic human needs can be met in the future if social and political structures, as well as values, do not hinder efforts for sustainability and equity. Meadows states that equity, rather than individual and national-wealth aggrandizement, is increasingly recognized as a major factor in planetary survival. Twenty years after "The Limits to Growth," Meadows and others in "Beyond the Limits" (1992) find that some options for a sustainable future have narrowed. However, they claim that new technologies can, if employed wisely, contribute to sustainability. The book emphasizes social-policy options rather than models. After working for two years on the Club of Rome research project, Meadows became a member of the faculty at Dartmouth College where she was systems analyst and adjunct professor in the Environmental Studies Program. Meadows has a lifestyle that reflects her views about sustaining finite resources and valuing equity rather than personal economic gain. She has lived in a commune, studied Zen Buddhism, and believed that people today are ultimately responsible for a future that holds "unspeakable horrors or undreamed-of wonders." She died in 2001 from a bacterial infection. Her titles include Limits to Growth-The 30 year Update, The Electronic Oracle: Computer Models and Social Decisions and Thinking in Systems - A Primer.

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