Too late for sustainability?

By Jacqueline Loos

Dennis Meadows is well-known as one of the authors of “The Limits to Growth”. This report was published in 1972 and until today it is strongly discussed among scientists and politicians – already 40 years ago, Meadows and his collaborators warned of an economic and societal collapse during the 21st century due to overexploitation of natural resources.

In an interview I recently heard (unfortunately with in German translation:, Meadows stated that we – the human population on earth – already crossed the threshold and cannot reach sustainable development anymore:


“It is too late for sustainable development”.

Is this only a pessimistic attitude or is this sentence expressing the findings of his year-long activities as researcher and professor? Is this the final judgment on all thoughts, decisions, working hours and ideas which many activists, scientists and politicians spend on the idea of a sustainable development on earth?

I believe it is hard to work for a common aim if there is no hope to reach the desired outcome at the end: are we at least slowing down the rate of global degradation? Or are our efforts simply too little, too late?

Despite his pessimism, Meadows encouraged people to act sustainably instead of only talking about it. Acting sustainability in our own everyday lives might only have a small influence on the whole earth – but if many of us do many small things and come together, can´t we achieve medium-sized goals as well? And won´t all of these small and medium sized “sustainable activities” have the power to ultimately result in a major movement towards a more sustainable global community?

It might be late to turn back… but it is never too late to change directions. And I hope we will choose a direction which lets us and future generations enjoy our natural heritage.


One thought on “Too late for sustainability?

  1. Nice post many thanks! Sometimes only just by analysing my own activities and attitudes I wonder if a ‘sustainable future’ (or maybe more correctly: a future) is possible in this planet. Sometimes I myself do many things, which, if would be done by 9.000000000 people, the planet would collapse more quickly. And I have quite a modest life. This is from my side, about ‘sustainability’:)

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