Limits to Growth: Beyond the Point of Inflexion


Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm



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The School of Mathematics and Statistics is hosting this special event over two days as part of this year's Mathematics of Planet Earth. Day one is a full day symposium, and the evening of day two will feature a Q&A panel discussion event. See below for all details of both events, and how to register.


On Wednesday 11/12/13, we are hosting a full day Symposium on Limits to Growth at Parade Theatre, NIDA. 

Is economic growth forever sustainable? What impact would a stagnant or declining population have on GDP? Can mathematical models guide policy makers in answering these questions? What is the strategic plan for planet Earth?

The Limits to Growth Symposium will feature prominent keynote speakers:

  • Graciela Chichilnisky: Professor of Economics, Columbia University and architect of the carbon credit emissions trading market underlying the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Peter Cosier: Chair, Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.
  • Ross Gittins AM: Economics Editor, Sydney Morning Herald and economics columnist at The Age.
  • Clive Hamilton AM FRSA: Professor of Public Ethics, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, author of Growth Fetish, Requiem for a Species and Earthmasters.
  • Ken Henry AC FASSA: Economist, Former Secretary of the Department of Treasury, Chair of Australia’s Future Tax System Review; Chair of White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century.
  • Graeme Maxton: Economist, Member of the Club of Rome, author of The End of Progress.
  • Jørgen Randers: Professor of Climate Strategy, BI Norwegian Business School, co-author of Limits to Growth and author of 2052.
  • Gemma Van Halderen: Gemma is responsible for the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Population, Education and Data Integration Division.
  • Peter Victor: Professor in Environmental Studies, York University, Member of the Club of Rome, author of Managing without Growth: Smaller by Design, Not Disaster.

    Updated: Bookings for the symposium have closed.

See the Limits to Growth website for all details.

Ticky Fullerton

Q&A Panel Discussion

Several of the above speakers will participate in a public panel discussion and Q&A event at 6pm on Thursday 12th December in UNSW's Leighton Hall, facilitated by Ticky Fullerton (journalist for the ABC and presenter of The Business).



Background: A little over forty years ago an international team led by Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William Behrens III carried out a major study of growth in five key areas; population, agricultural production, natural resources, industrial production and pollution. The team concluded that, if current trends continued, limits to growth would be realised within one hundred years with a sudden and uncontrollable decline in population and industrial capacity. Many of the projections on resources and pollution proved to be incorrect, with technological advances reversing trends. However the central (mathematical) result, that continued exponential growth is not sustainable indefinitely, is indisputable, and we have now entered an era, beyond the point of inflexion, where the rate of population growth is slowing.