Abstract for: The Tragedy of Overshoots

Understanding historical overshoots is vital for policy-making, not least when assessing potentials for future global overshoots. For this purpose a simple, unifying theory of overshoots is described and discussed for a variety of observed overshoots. For undesired and avoidable overshoots, misperception at some level must be a major cause. Laboratory experiments support this hypothesis and point to dynamics as the main complicating factor. The theory suggests that misperceptions may cause global overshoots both because of climate change and scarcity of cheap fossil energy. New generations of simulation models are needed to study overshoots, test policies for sustainable development, and to aid information dissemination.