World Modelling from the Bottom Up

Nordhaus, W.D. (1975). World Modelling from the Bottom Up. IIASA Research Memorandum. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: RM-75-010

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Although opinions about world models vary from extreme enthusiasm to unbridled outrage, there can be no doubt about the success on one front: world models are the growth industry of the social sciences today. Three years ago the Club of Rome could have been the euphemism for the local wine-testing group. Today, it is hosting a pilgrimage of world scientists in Berlin to view the latest models in the haute couture of world thought.

A preview of one of these models was given during October 1974, in a three day meeting in Baden, Austria, hosted by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The work presented there was a project prepared by the Fundacion Bariloche, a multi-disciplinary group of scholars from Argentina. The most fascinating aspect of the Bariloche model is that it is a model about the world economy built from the bottom of the economic ladder looking up, rather than an elitist model built from the pinnacles of the Cambridges -- Massachusetts or England -- looking down (or into the future) at world problems. This perspective gives the model a ring of authenticity. Whereas "World Dynamics" and "The Limits to Growth" struck many as basically computer games, the Bariloche model has finally come to grips with the concrete problems of mankind. It is interesting that in so doing they have combined a radical political philosophy with a traditional set of techniques.

In what follows I will try to layout the basic setting of the Bariloche model, with close attention to the problems of techniques and methodology. If I seem to harp on the shortcomings, it is only because I think that the project's strong points are vitiated by inattention to some important details. It is an incomplete model, one that cannot at present be taken terribly seriously as a normative or descriptive model of the world economy; but nevertheless it represents a significant improvement over the Limits to Growth models which have been-used heretofore.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Research Memorandum)
Research Programs: Energy Program (ENP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:43
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:08

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