The Club of Rome, a group of scientists from a variety of fields which formed in 1968, commissioned "The Limits of Growth" from systems scientists at MIT (the book was published in 1972). On the Club of Rome website they discuss the impact of that publication, "The Report explored a number of scenarios and stressed the choices open to society to reconcile sustainable progress within environmental constraints. The international effects of this publication in the fields of politics, economics and science are best described as a 'Big Bang': over night, the Club of Rome had demonstrated the contradiction of unlimited and unrestrained growth in material consumption in a world of clearly finite resources and had brought the issue to the top of the global agenda." The report cited a number of scenarios some quite dismal.
These thoughts however continued to persist even when data could not support such claims of catastrophe. In 1980 economist Julian Simon was so convinced of the wrong-headedness of claims about resource scarcity and population growth that he wagered Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich chose five metal resources: copper, chromium, nickel, tin, and tungsten that he believed would increase in price over the 1980s. Simon bet the prices of these commodities would all decrease. Simon won. The specifics of the bets and other subsequent bets are actually well documented on Wikipedia.
In 1992 Limits of Growth came out with a renewed model that took account of new demographic trends in families, ecological realities such as soil erosion, and several other factors. The authors write,
"If 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"
More doom and gloom. If I make it to 2092 I will know whether or not their prediction came true. But, there does seem to be a bewildering persistence in the message: Despite lower death rates, floundering predictions, and lost bets Neo-Malthusians still maintain the need for population control. For example, in Beyond Malthus (2002) the authors write,