Eduard Pestel

Eduard Pestel (rechts), 1973

Eduard Pestel (29 May 191419 September 1988) was a German engineer, professor of mechanics and politician.


  • "Our world model was built specifically to investigate five major trends of global concern – accelerating industrialization, rapid population growth, widespread malnutrition, depletion of nonrenewable resources, and a deteriorating environment. The model we have constructed is, like every model, imperfect, oversimplified, and unfinished... Our conclusions are : (1.) If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity..."
  • "The value of global modelling has been severely restricted by poor appreciation of the constraints under which governments and politicians operate. Equally, the value of governments and politicians has been severely restricted by largely ignoring the very real but less immediate problems tackled by modellers."
    • E. Pestel (1982) Modellers and politicians. In: Futures, Volume 14, Issue 2, April 1982, pp. 122–128.

Mankind at the Turning Point (1974)Edit

Co-authored with Mihajlo Masarovic, ISBN 052515230X (cloth) ISBN 0525039457 (paper)

  • There is a much more subtle and completely novel threat to man's survival that looms, every year more menacingly, beside that of an atomic holocaust; the cluster of world-wide problems - not only material in nature - growing at an incredible speed when viewed in historical perspective, and called by The Club of Rome the "problématique humaine. In fact, we believe that even without the atomic world war, human existence as we know it is threatened if no way can be found to resolve this crisis syndrome." (p.xi)
    • Mesarovic and Pestel (1974) cited in: Robert C. Tucker (1995) Politics As Leadership. p.116
  • There is no such concept as one limit for the entice system: rather different parts of the system face different limits at different times with the traumatic experiences for the entire system depending on the interrelationship of the constituent parts - the collapse, if it occurs, would he regional rather than global, even though the entire global system would be affected. (p.55)
  • ""Isn't it legitimate to ask, as representatives of the developing countries, whether there should be maximum limits consumption...?" (p.69)
    • Quote cited in: B. Goudzwaard, Jerzy Śliziński, H. M. de Lange (1995) Beyond Poverty and Affluence: Toward an Economy of Care With a Twelve-Step Program for Economic Recovery. p.115
  • We found that technological optimism is the common and the most dangerous reaction to our findings... Technology can relieve the symptoms of the problem without affecting the underlying causes. Faith in technology as the ultimate solution to all problems can thus divert our attention from the most fundamental problem— the problem of growth in a finite system- and prevent us from taking effective action to solve it... We would deplore an unreasoned rejection of the benefits of technology as strongly as we argue here against an unreasoned acceptance of them. Perhaps the best summary of our position is the motto of the Sierra Club; not blind opposition to progress but opposition to blind progress.
    Taking no action to solve these problems is equivalent of taking strong action. Every day of continued exponential growth brings the world system closer to the ultimate limits of that growth. A decision to do nothing is a decision to increase the risk of collapse.
    The way to proceed is clear... [we posses] all that is necessary to create a totally new form of human society... the two missing ingredients are the realistic long-term goal... and the human will to achieve that goal. (p.88)
    • Citation in: Martin Bridgstock, David Burch, John Forge, John Laurent, Ian Lowe (1998) Science, Technology and Society: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press. pp. 245-246
  • "To grow or not to grow is neither a well-defined nor a relevant question until the location, sense, and subject of growing and the growth process itself are defined"
    • Cited in: John Cunningham Wood (1993) Thorstein Veblen: Critical Assessments. p.408
  • [Another significant aspect of the concept of growth is the distinction that Mesarovic and Pestel draw between "undifferentiated" and "organic" growth. The former type of growth, according to these authors, consists of mere replication of cells by cellular division, usually expotentially, with an increase in quantity alone. The latter type of growth]
    "involves a process of differentiation, which means that various groups of cells begin to differ in structure and function... During and after differentiation the number of cells can still increase, and the organs grow in size, but while some organs grow, others might celine."
    • Cited in: Joel Jay Kassiola (1990) The Death of Industrial Civilization. p.48


  • Mihajlo Mesarovic and Eduard Pestel have made a deliberate attempt to gain approbation from the skeptical segment of the intellectual community and to disassociate their work from that of Forrester and Meadows.
    • Gerald O. Barney (1980) The global 2000 report to the President of the U.S., entering the 21st century: a report, Volume 2. p.615
  • "Eduard Pestel is also known... for his blunt pleas to make global modelling relevant to decision makers."
    • John M. Richardson Jr (1982) "A decade of global modelling". In: Futures. Vol. 14, Issue 2, April 1982, pp. 136–145
  • Pestel was a very forceful person and quickly saw the power of system dynamics.
  • Eduard Pestel recalled that the Club of Rome's founder, Aurelio Peccei, was tremendously impressed “by the fact that all computer runs exhibited — sooner or later at some point in time during the next century — a collapse mode regardless of regardless of any 'technological fixes'employed'.
    • Paul N. Edwards (2010) : Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming. p.368
  • Mesarovic and Pestel are critical of the Forrester-Meadows world view, which is that of a homogeneous system with a fully predetermined evolution in time once the initial conditions are specified
    • New Scientist. Vol. 66, nr. 947. May 1, 1975. p.272
  • Mihajlo Masarovic and Eduard Pestel (1974) attempted a radical innovation by developing complex models that combined demographic projections with economic, social, environmental, and political trends, with the objective of revealing that the population predicted by the UN would necessarily lead to an an explosion of the world system during the 21st century, causing an increase in mortality and a rapid population decline.
    • Graziella Caselli, Jacques Vallin, Guillaume J. Wunsch (2006) Demography: Analysis and Synthesis. Volume 1. p.218

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Last modified on 7 September 2013, at 23:53