What ‘Winning’ Against Climate Change Actually Looks Like

You won’t like it

8 min readAug 27


Disaster girl

The Limits Of Growth, published in 1972, ran thoughtful computer models of our future up to 2100. The models were explicitly not predictions, but as a 2009 retrospective said,

Its predictions have not been invalidated and in fact seem quite on target. We are not aware of any model made by economists that is as accurate over such a long time span.

This is unfortunate because its (not) predictions are terrible.

Almost every single ‘run’ of the program has civilization crashing by 2100. Collapse is the default state. The few runs that don’t crash are because we, effectively, crash it ourselves. What is required is nothing short of global climate communism, bold 50-year plans implemented rigidly (ie, violently). And yet even this hopeless debate is also pointless, because it needed to be done 50 years ago. We have no concept of what ‘winning’ requires and — even if we did — we’re way too late.

I cover the ‘winning’ scenarios here not because they’re possible but because they’re not. Understanding what winning actually looks like can help us understand the losing state we’re in. Even in our wildest hypothetical imaginings (if I ruled the world and everyone thought the right things) we do not imagine what’s actually required. Because it’s absolutely brutal. Someone/something would have to take global power, kill the rich, crush the corporations, and rule humanity with an iron fist to wrench our ambitions down to Earth. This is what ‘winning’ looks like. You don’t want it and even if you did, it’s already been sold out.

Reading The Graphs

My reference for this essay is the book The Limits Of Growth. You should just read it, but if you’re going to just read the graphs here, there are a few things to understand. A rule of thumb is that we’re looking for flat lines and not the violent up-and-to-the-right that tech bros delight in. Exponential growth is, as Dr. Tom Murphy says, being beaten to death with hockey sticks. Every meteoric rise we’re so proud of is effectively another meteor crashing into Earth, causing this mass extinction. Every action has a reaction. What we traditionally (ie: economically) don’t measure is that steep artificial…




Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at www.indi.ca, or just email me at indi@indi.ca.