The second point concerns the question of why Limits hit such a sensitive nerve everywhere, and a short story may shed some light on this question. During the acrimonious days of preparing the summary for Global 2000, a relatively senior government official said to me “Global 2000 cannot suggest that developing countries face challenges any more difficult than those faced by the United States.”

For me, the central message of Limits is a moral message. For many decades, people have been observing that a very small fraction of the human population in high-income countries are enjoying a very large slice of the world resource/economic pie and asking if this picture does not raise a moral issue. Until Limits, the wealthy could and did answer: “No. There’s no moral issue here. If people in the low-income countries stop being lazy and work as hard as we rich have, their slice of the global pie—in fact the whole global pie—can be as big as they want.” Limits—and to a degree Global 2000 also—destroys this moral dodge. It shows that there are limits to the size of the global pie. I think the reason that Limits so unnerved people is not the prospect of overshoot and collapse. Rather it is our nagging sense that post-Limits, we cannot avoid a profound moral dilemma that we did not expect and do not know how to address. It is the fear we all have now of looking in the eye of a person from Bangladesh, or Malawi, or Czechia, or Ghana (as I have) and being told: “I and my family would like to like to live as well as you do, but we can’t. We are too late. If we and everyone else tried to live as well as you do, it would destroy Earth.” Now, limits on economic throughput that can be sustained without unacceptable environmental damage force us to face unavoidable equity and distributional issues. This moral challenge, I think, is the reason so many people could not read Limits with an open mind, and why we could not publish a Government study suggesting that the challenge to developing countries is greater than the challenge to the United States.


from this article.


It reminds me of Copenhagen meeting December last year.

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