• Kyle Crider

Moving From Resiliency to Restoration

This has been a momentous week for environmental justice. First, as you no doubt are aware, the IPCC Working Group II report, "Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability," was released. The People's Justice Council and Southeast Climate and Energy Network (SCEN) have released a joint statement with an emphasis on the implications of this report for the Southeast.


But something else momentous occurred this week that you might have missed. March 2 was the fifty-year anniversary of the publication of The Limits to Growth, and was heralded by a Club of Rome webinar whose panelists included original author Dr. Dennis Meadows.

The Limits to Growth was a wake-up call but we hit the snooze button. As a result, we now find ourselves facing the greatest challenges of our time including climate change, a global pandemic and international conflict. Our mission has to be to think differently, to apply our brains, our hearts and our souls to codesign the alternative future we want. We need to bring in systems dynamics, as the authors of the The Limits to Growth did 50 years ago, to catalyse systemic approaches to the complex problems facing humanity embedded in our economic, political, natural, and social systems.” The Club of Rome co-president, Sandrine Dixson-Declève.

I was one of 700+ folks worldwide who attended this webinar and had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Meadows reflect on the the past five decades through the lens of this ground-breaking study, as well as thoughts about its implications for the future. I took screen captures of key points, including this one:

Limits to Growth Main Points in 1972
  • Present growth policies for global material consumption cannot continue.

  • The most likely result is overshoot and collapse, but a sustainable society is still possible.

  • The sooner humanity pursues the latter option, the greater the chance of success.

Limits to Growth Main Points in 2022
  • Present levels of global material consumption cannot continue.

  • The most likely result is sudden and decline, but a peaceful, equitable, and gradual descent is still possible.

  • The sooner humanity pursues the latter option, the greater the chance of success.

Dr. Meadows issued a call to action: We must "shift from slow down to get back down." That is, it is not enough to simply slow the progress of our ecological overshoot. We must get society back down to living within our ecological limits. How do we do this? My paraphrasing of Meadows advice is:

  1. We must acknowledge our ecological overshoot and pending collapse situation. What are our options?

  2. We should start developing a new vocabulary/set of images to make viable options attractive.

  3. We must focus on resilience (shocks are coming).

  4. We should start respecting the nonmonetary aspects of the environment.

If you are not familiar with The Club of Rome and The Limits to Growth, and would like to learn more, here are some suggested resources:

Meadows' call to action is echoed in our (PJC's) new From Resilience to Restoration initiative. This initiative includes and builds upon our Energizing the South for Energy Justice campaign, inluding our Weatherizing Every Residence in the South East (WERiSE) and energy burden mapping projects. Please join us Thursday, March 24, at 6 PM Central for our first Energizing the South Zoom meeting of 2022, where we will be unveiling From Resiliency to Restoration and providing updates on our Justice40 and other work.