Environmental Literature, Art, Music

Meadows, Donella H.

February 17, 2011, 5:28 pm

Donella H. Meadows (1941-2001), an American environmental scientist and writer. She is best known for her role on the MIT team that produced the global computer model "World3" for the Club of Rome and provided the basis for The Limits to Growth (1972). This book, with Jay Forrester as a co-author, reported on a study of long-term global trends in population, economics, and the environment, sold millions of copies, and was translated into 30 languages. The Limits to Growth made headlines around the world, and began a debate about the limits of the Earth's capacity to support human economic expansion—a debate that continues to this day. Meadows was also the lead author of the twenty-year follow-up study, Beyond the Limits (1992), with original co-authors Dennis Meadows and Jørgen Randers.

With Dennis Meadows she founded and coordinated INRIC, the International Network of Resource Information Centers, also called the Balaton Group. INRIC is a coalition of systems-oriented analysts and activists in 50 nations, all of whom work to promote sustainable, high-productivity resource management. Through INRIC, Meadows developed training games and workshops on resource management, which she presented in Hungary, Kenya, Costa Rica, Portugal, Singapore, Germany, and the United States. She helped to organize an annual conference in Hungary at which Balaton Group members exchange information and plan joint projects.

For 16 years Meadows wrote a weekly column called ''The Global Citizen'' commenting on world events from a systems point of view. It appeared in more than twenty newspapers, won second place in the 1985 Champion-Tuck national competition for outstanding journalism in the fields of business and economics, received the Walter C. Paine Science Education Award in 1990, and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1991.

Meadows served on the Board of Directors of the Hunger Project, the Winrock International Livestock Research Center, and the Trust for New Hampshire Lands. She was a co-founder and served on the Boards of the Upper Valley Land Trust and the Center for a New American Dream, and had been a consultant to the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress. She was a member of the Committee for Population, Resources, and the Environment of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society.

In 1991 Donella Meadows was selected as one of ten Pew Scholars in Conservation and the Environment. Her three-year award supported her international work in resource management with a systems point of view. In 1994 she was awarded a five-year MacArthur Fellowship by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Select bibliography of Donella Meadows

  • D.H. Meadows, D.L. Meadows, J. Randers, and W.W. Behrens III, The Limits to Growth, Universe Books, New York, 1972.
  • D.L. Meadows and D.H. Meadows, Toward Global Equilibrium, Wright-Allen Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1973.
  • D.L. Meadows, D.H. Meadows et al., The Dynamics of Growth in a Finite World, Wright-Allen Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1974.
  • D.H. Meadows, J. Richardson, and G. Bruckmann, Groping in the Dark: The First Decade of Global Modeling, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 1982.
  • D.H. Meadows and J. Robinson, The Electronic Oracle: Computer Models and Social Decisions, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 1985.
  • D.H. Meadows, Harvesting One Hundredfold: Key Concepts and Case Studies in Environmental Education, UNEP, Nairobi, 1989.
  • D.H. Meadows, The Global Citizen, Island Press, 1991.
  • D.H. Meadows, D.L. Meadows, and J. Randers, Beyond the Limits, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junction VT, 1992.
  • D.H. Meadows, Indicators and Information Systems for Sustainable Development, Sustainability Institute, Hartland Four Corners VT, 1998.


Cleveland, C. (2011). Meadows, Donella H.. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/51cbee6b7896bb431f697b51


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