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Limits to economic growth

Across the world, decisions on investment and policy are made under the assumption of continuous economic expansion. Fundamental physical limits may soon put an end to this phase of development, as foreshadowed by the 1972 report The Limits to Growth.

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Fig. 1: Historical energy growth and intensity decline.
Fig. 2: Historical lighting progression and limits.
Fig. 3: Indefinite growth versus saturated scale.


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I thank K. Griest seeding the idea of consuming the Milky Way Galaxy in 2,500 years at a 2% growth rate. H. Daly and B. McCall graciously provided constructive feedback.

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Correspondence to Thomas W. Murphy Jr.

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Murphy, T.W. Limits to economic growth. Nat. Phys. 18, 844–847 (2022).

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