Limits to Growth: Beyond the Point of Inflexion


Friday, 13th December 2013

The School hosted this special two-day event from 11-12 December as part of this year's Mathematics of Planet Earth. Day one comprised a full day symposium at NIDA's Parade Theatre, and the evening of day two featured a Q&A panel discussion at UNSW's Scientia.

Some of the world's leading thinkers converged to address questions such as: 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?


On 11 December, we hosted a full-day symposium at Parade Theatre, NIDA, with presentations from 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.

The event attracted several hundred attendees, and garnered ample media attention.

ABC radio's PM program recorded talks by Graciela Chichilnisky, Clive Hamilton and Ken Henry; SKY TV filmed the afternoon sessions for Australia's Public Affairs Channel (Foxtel); AAP and Financial Review came to report on Ken Henry's talk, and SMH requested copy of Ken Henry's speech for publication. Part of his talk was quoted in an article in The Australian

View photos from the symposium via our Facebook page.

Q&A Panel Discussion

On the evening of 12 December, we held a televised Q&A event at UNSW's Scientia, hosted by Ticky Fullerton (journalist for the ABC and presenter of The Business). Several of the symposium keynote speakers participated: Graciela Chichilnisky, Peter Cosier, Ken Henry, Julian King (Pottinger Group), Graeme Maxton, Jorgen Randers, Peter Victor, and Gemma Van Halderen.

Several hundred people attended this interactive event, which generated a lively debate and attracted many questions from audience members. The Q&A was filmed for Australia's Public Affairs Channel (Foxtel).

Watch the Q&A event via YouTube.

View photos from the Q&A via our Facebook page.


Thank you to the organising committee: Bruce Henry, Isaac Donnelly, Susannah Waters, Peter Straka, and Kaye Sedgers. A special thanks to Sarah Terkes, Deborah Smith, Chris Angstmann, and Xanthe Chapman for their contributions.