Are There ‘Limits to Growth’?

Lyndon LaRouche was the leading anti-Malthusian of the last 50 years. As a veteran of World War II, in which his generation fought bravely to defeat the fascists who had perpetrated mass genocide, LaRouche warned that the environmentalist movement which emerged in the decades following that war was in fact nothing other than genocide in a new guise. He denounced and disproved the pseudoscience of so-called zero population growth and scarce resources which these neo-eugenicists preached, as a policy whose logical conclusion could only be mass death, the primary victims of which would be the impoverished populations of the Third World. LaRouche fought for his entire career to bring modern technological development to these formerly colonial nations, in opposition to those whom he correctly exposed as using the pretext of “overpopulation” to impose racist and murderous policies of enforced backwardness and denial of progress to these vast portions of the human race.

Limits to Growth?

In 1972, a book was published which became the virtual bible of the radical environmentalist movement. It was called The Limits to Growth, and the authors were quite specific in their intent both to deny mankind the right to progress and to enforce a policy of zero population growth by any means necessary:

"Unless there is a sharp rise in mortality, which mankind will certainly strive mightily to avoid, we can look forward to a world population of around 7 billion persons in 30 more years. And if we continue to succeed in lowering mortality with no better success in lowering fertility than we have accomplished in the past, in 60 years there will be four people in the world for every one person living today.... There are only two ways to restore the resulting imbalance. Either the birth rate must be brought down to equal the new, lower death rate, or the death rate must rise again... In other words, we require that the number of babies born each year be equal to the expected number of deaths in the population that year..." 

"Many people will think that the changes we have introduced... are not only impossible, but unpleasant, dangerous, even disastrous in themselves. Such policies as reducing the birth rate, by whatever means they might be implemented, seem unnatural and unimaginable, because they have not, in most people’s experience, been tried, or even seriously suggested... Such counterpressures will probably not be entirely pleasant. They will certainly involve profound changes in the social and economic structures that have been deeply impressed into human culture by centuries of growth."

This argument for so-called “population equilibrium” was not new. As the authors themselves admit, “We are by no means the first people in man’s written history to propose some sort of nongrowing state for human society. A number of philosophers, economists, and biologists have discussed such a state and called it by many different names.” They cite by name their patron saint of environmentalism, Parson Thomas Malthus, who asserted in 1798 that the unholy trinity of degradation, despair and disease should be promoted and allowed to ravage the poor and lower classes, lest their population grow unchecked and place undue strain upon access to food and resources by the rest of society. Malthus wrote, in his Essay on the Principle of Population:

"We should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavouring to impede, the operations of nature in producing this mortality; and if we dread the too frequent visitation of the horrid form of famine, we should sedulously encourage the other forms of destruction, which we compel nature to use. Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all, we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders."

Malthus warned apocalyptically that human population would swiftly surpass food supply and that any continued population growth was unsustainable. But at the time that Malthus wrote this, there were only 1 billion people on this planet. Today there are far more than 7 billion. So hasn’t Malthusianism obviously been debunked by the history of mankind itself? One need only study the history of human civilization to discover that, indeed, mankind has no fixed carrying capacity but rather is constantly acting to change our relationship to our environment and overcome any fixed boundaries which might be artificially imposed by nature.

In fact, this creative activity itself is what distinguishes Homo sapiens as a species. Would a pre-agricultural society be able to support the several billions of people who live on this planet today, at today’s standard of living and relatively high life-expectancies? Of course not, but it is the very fact that mankind has discovered how to cultivate crops, rather than merely rely on the bounty of nature, which allowed us to leapfrog the limits experienced by hunters and gatherers and to create a new metric for carrying capacity of human beings. These techniques have progressed generation upon generation, allowing the same total land area of planet Earth to support ever-increasing numbers of human beings. The same example can be applied to progressively more intense power sources, new energy resources, breakthroughs in medicine, materials processing and production, efficiency in transportation, and all other technologies upon which present civilization depends for our modern quality of life and population levels. In fact, “technology” is itself a uniquely human phenomenon. No other animal species can discover principles of nature and put them to work for the improvement of their species. Without technology, mankind ceases to be mankind. This very act of surpassing the apparent limits presented by nature by means of technology is what defines man as man.

However, this creative spark and pursuit of discovery is precisely the characteristic of human society which the authors of The Limits to Growth sought to destroy, thus denying mankind his very identity in being human:

"Although the history of human effort contains numerous incidents of mankind’s failure to live within physical limits, it is success in overcoming limits that forms the cultural tradition of many dominant people in today’s world. Over the past three hundred years, mankind has compiled an impressive record of pushing back the apparent limits to population and economic growth by a series of spectacular technological advances. Since the recent history of a large part of human society has been so continuously successful, it is quite natural that many people expect technological breakthroughs to go on raising physical ceilings indefinitely. These people speak about the future with resounding technological optimism..."

"We have found that technological optimism is the most common and the most dangerous reaction to our findings from the world model... Faith in technology as the ultimate solution to all problems can thus divert our attention from the most fundamental problem — the problem of growth in a finite system — and prevent us from taking effective action to solve it."

"The growth-stopping pressures from negative feedback loops are already being felt in many parts of human society... Technological solutions have been devised to weaken the loops or to disguise the pressures they generate so that growth can continue. Such means may have some short-term effect in relieving pressures caused by growth, but in the long run they do nothing to prevent the overshoot and subsequent collapse of the system."

No Limits to Growth!

Lyndon LaRouche refused to accept this assault on human creativity, and published a book titled There Are No Limits To Growth in 1983, as part of his campaign for the United States presidency. LaRouche denounced this neo-Malthusianism for what it was — a policy of mass murder through the denial of the means to support human life — and advocated a technological crash program to vastly increase what he called the “relative potential population density” of human life on Earth, and beyond. He concludes this book by asserting:

"There are two required policies on which we must become agreed... First, we must resolve upon increasing the potential relative population density of mankind as a whole, by mobilizing advanced — and advancing — technology, as it is available, to lift the majority of mankind out of the threatened condition into which post-war economic policies have pushed it. Let us resolve to dedicate the next two generations to ridding this planet of virtually every vestige of inequity on this account. Second, we must, at the same time, adopt a higher, common purpose for mankind: the exploration and colonization of space, for whatever higher purpose we later discover this to lead mankind..."

"Malthusianism, and the wicked cultural paradigms it reflects must be extirpated from the practice of nations immediately, by whatever means of force of law are required to accomplish that result immediately. Malthusianism has no rights as a political opinion under natural law; it is to be treated as the practice of any other form of crime, and its advocacy recognized as an expression of a criminal mentality. Those people whom the Malthusians would cause to die, have a right to live, and no Malthusian, for any reason, has a right to deprive them of life, nor the right to campaign to induce them to accept death willingly by various methods of news media and other brainwashing..."

"Let us adopt as universal law of practice among nations, the view of man, and of man in the universe, in which every human life is sacred and the moral fruitfulness of its occurrence fostered and protected by us all."

There Is No Climate Emergency

As the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019 got underway, 500 prominent scientists and professionals from around the world submitted what they called the European Climate Declaration, insisting that “There Is No Climate Emergency.”

In their letter of transmittal, the signers wrote:

"The general-circulation models of climate on which international policy is at present founded are unfit for their purpose. Therefore, it is cruel as well as imprudent to advocate the squandering of trillions of dollars on the basis of results from such immature models. Current climate policies pointlessly and grievously undermine the economic system, putting lives at risk in countries denied access to affordable, reliable electrical energy."

The signers urge

"a constructive high-level meeting between world-class scientists on both sides of the climate debate early in 2020. Such a meeting would be consistent with the historically proven principles of sound science and natural justice that both sides should be fully and fairly heard. Audiatur et altera pars!"

The letter is reproduced below:

Natural as well as anthropogenic factors cause warming
The geological archive reveals that Earth’s climate has varied as long as the planet has existed, with natural cold and warm phases. The Little Ice Age ended as recently as 1850. Therefore, it is no surprise that we now are experiencing a period of warming. Only very few peer-reviewed papers even go so far as to say that recent warming is chiefly anthropogenic.

Warming is far slower than predicted
The world has warmed at less than half the originally-predicted rate, and at less than half the rate to be expected on the basis of net anthropogenic forcing and radiative imbalance. It tells us that we are far from understanding climate change.

Climate policy relies on inadequate models
Climate models have many shortcomings and are not remotely plausible as policy tools. Moreover, they most likely exaggerate the effect of greenhouse gases such as CO₂. In addition, they ignore the fact that enriching the atmosphere with CO₂ is beneficial.

CO₂ is plant food, the basis of all life on Earth
CO₂ is not a pollutant. It is essential to all life on Earth. Photosynthesis is a blessing. More CO₂ is beneficial for nature, greening the Earth: additional CO₂ in the air has promoted growth in global plant biomass. It is also good for agriculture, increasing the yields of crops worldwide.

Global warming has not increased natural disasters
There is no statistical evidence that global warming is intensifying hurricanes, floods, droughts and suchlike natural disasters, or making them more frequent. However, CO₂ mitigation measures are as damaging as they are costly. For instance, wind turbines kill birds and insects, and palm-oil plantations destroy the biodiversity of the rainforests.

Climate policy must respect scientific and economic realities
There is no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO₂ policy proposed for 2050. If better approaches emerge, we will have ample time to reflect and adapt. The aim of international policy should be to provide reliable and affordable energy at all times, and throughout the world.

The letter concludes:

"Our advice to political leaders is that science should strive for a significantly better understanding of the climate system, while politics should focus on minimizing potential climate damage by prioritizing adaptation strategies based on proven and affordable technologies."

This image appeared in the press release announcing the letter. The “climate emergency” that never was: Global warming predicted by climate models (purple and red cursors) is three times the warming expected on the basis of officially estimated man-made influences on climate (orange) and four times the warming actually observed (green).

Taking on the Green Agenda

The green propaganda onslaught can be countered through both reason and humor. LaRouche activists have been using techniques as they intervene at campuses, set up tables at post offices, and challenge the green narrative publicly at town hall meetings across the country, giving courage to those in agreement, and provoking those who have not yet heard “the other side” to think. Hundreds of copies of the EIR report CO₂ Reduction Is a Mass Murder Policy were distributed at the recent General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, and thousands of young people as well as others have signed up, excited to learn more about the potential for our future, if indeed the end is not twelve years away.

Through this activity, organizers across the country have made the following observations:

  1. Many people already see through the claims of impending climate catastrophe.
  2. Counterposing the axioms underlying climate change to those of space visionary Kraft Ehricke—that the ability of mankind to expand into the cosmos creates the potential for unlimited resources and discovery—has been successful in highlighting the fallacies of the “greenwashed” philosophy and instead engaging people in an excitement about the power of human creativity, especially young people.
  3. It is quite possible to provoke recognition of the conceptual conflict between continual human progress and the vast decrease of the population which the adoption of the green policies pushed by the minions of the British Empire would ensure.
  4. The perception that all young people are entirely and insistently on board the climate Armageddon bandwagon is incorrect: many students are quite open to discussion.

In Michigan, a student responded, “Wow, before learning about LaRouche, I never knew that someone refuted the concept of limits to growth!” In Manhattan, a young person enthused, “Yes, I do think it is possible to colonize the Moon! What else do you have on this?”

Over one day of such organizing at a campus in Houston, Texas, fifty students signed up. Two hundred students signed up in one week at several New York area campuses. Thoughtful young people are happy to find that there is an institution which is challenging the narrative and asking them to think for themselves, while pointing to human development as a real possibility in our lifetimes.

This must not be simply a United States movement, as any demand for human progress must represent all of mankind. A recent international day of action by the LaRouche movement resulted in interventions in thirty cities worldwide, creating a truly global call for an end to the green insanity, and a recognition that the only “sustainable” development is that which looks to space exploration, fusion technology, and unending progress.

Next Up: 


· The History of Climate Scares 

· CO₂ Climate Models Don’t Work 

· Climate Alarmists Fake Data 

· What Does Cause Climate Change? 

· The Cost of Decarbonization: Dead Babies 


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