Article | 1976

Long Term Constraints on Human Activity

By Amory Lovins

In this paper, Amory Lovins discusses the forces shaping and constraining social enterprise. Lovins argues that humans are constrained by problems of food, land and water, climatic change, energy, hazardous substances, non-fuel minerals, diversity and resilience of ecosystems, management and global organization. These problems raise fundamental questions about present trends in management methods and in global organization. Lovins analyzes our relationship with each of these issues and argues for a long-range planning approach instead of short-term technological fixes. The diverse outer limits surveyed in this paper reflect complex, poorly perceived, and often unsuspected, interconnectionsbetween biological and geophysical processes, many of which are obscure or still unknown. Our lack of predictive power, let alone of quantitative understanding, implies a need to treat essential life support systems with great caution and forbearance, lest we erode safety margins whose importance we do not yet appreciate.