This is the latest instance of the WORLD3 model, as in Limits to Growth – the 30 year update, from the standard Vensim distribution. It’s not much changed from the 1972 original used in Limits to Growth, which is documented in great detail in Dynamics of Growth in a Finite World (half off at Pegasus as of this moment).

There have been many critiques of this model, including the fairly famous Models of Doom. Most are ideological screeds that miss the point, and many modern critics do not appear to even have read the book. The only good, comprehensive technical critique of World3 that I’m aware of is Wil Thissen’s thesis, Investigations into the Club of Rome’s WORLD3 model: lessons for understanding complicated models (Eindhoven, 1978). Portions appeared in IEEE Transactions.

My take on the more sensible critiques is that they show two things:

  • WORLD3 is an imperfect expression of the underlying ideas in Limits to Growth.
  • WORLD3 doesn’t have the policy space to capture competing viewpoints about the global situation; in particular it does not represent markets and technology as many see them.

It doesn’t necessarily follow from those facts that the underlying ideas of Limits are wrong. We still have to grapple with the consequences of exponential growth confronting finite planetary boundaries with long perception and action delays.

I’ve written some other material on limits here.

Files: WORLD3-03 (zipped archive of Vensim models and constant changes)

2 thoughts on “WORLD3-03”

  1. Thanks for posting the World3 model, it is not included in teh 30th Anniversary CD and I’ve been looking for it everywhere.

  2. Thank you for putting the model onto your page – the original book has it but print is so small and I needed a version that I could use within a dissertation and like the other comment the new book does not have it in.

    I agree that the model is simplified and does not take into account a number of factors, but like all models it is indicative rather than utterly accurate. I agree that the warning and the call for radical change still stands today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *