In 1972 the Limits to Growth report was published. It used the World3 model to better understand the dynamics of global systems and their relationship to finite resource availability, land use, and persistent pollution accumulation. The trends of resource depletion and degradation of physical systems which were identified by Limits to Growth have continued. Although World3 forecast scenarios are based on key measures and assumptions that cannot be easily assessed using available data (i.e.
, non-renewable resources, persistent pollution), the dynamics of growth components of the model can be compared with publicly available global data trends. Based on Scenario 2 of the Limits to Growth study, we present a calibration of the updated World3-03 model using historical data from 1995 to 2012 to better understand the dynamics of today’s economic and resource system. Given that accurate data on physical limits does not currently exist, the dynamics of overshoot to global limits are not assessed. In this paper we offer a new interpretation of the parametrisation of World3-03 using these data to explore how its assumptions on global dynamics, environmental footprints and responses have changed over the past 40 years. The results show that human society has invested more to abate persistent pollution, to increase food productivity and have a more productive service sector.
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