Club of Rome and 2052: We are headed for Collapse

Options: Creative Descent

2052: A Global Forecast of the Next 40 Years

Jorgen Randers, noted author of The Limits to Growth has finished his latest study and book entitled: 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next 40 Years. His conclusion is that human civilization is headed for an unprecedented collapse event in 2050 UNLESS there is radical transformation of our government and economic institutions.

Professor Randers has been a champion of sustainability ever since the 1972 study he co-authored and in 40 years,  he has seen both government and business take a Business-As-Usual approach, borne out by recent studies by Dr. Graham Turner of Australia’s CSIRO which fed 30 years of data from 1970 to 2000 into the same 12 models which the original Limits to Growth team considered. What he found was that indeed we the dataset closely tracks the Business-As-Usual trajectory…which shows a catastrophic event happening in  1 to 2 decades.

Dr Randers latest study pushes the probable collapse data a few decades ahead from 2030 to 2050 due to factors not accounted for in the previous study.

Dr. Randers main finding for the failure of society is the government and market’s inherent view of Short Termism, that is the inability to execute long term strategies. Government officials are elected into office every 4 years and business sharehholders demand profits in the next quarter. In this paradigm, short term decisions that maximize profits (and destroy the environment and harm people because there are no regulations that prevent them from doing so) overide long term decisions that would be good for people and the environment. Based on the attempts towards sustainability from 1970 to 2012 and the opposition from both government and business, Randers does not see the world capable of such radical transformation in the short time remaining.


2012 Limits of Growth Symposium: Jorgen Rander’s Conclusion: We are headed for a Collapse of Human Civilization in 2050

2052’s Message

Professor Rander’s message is based on realism. During his inaugural speech, he reminded the audience “Don’t shoot the messenger”. His advice is to forget about sustainable development. He says that it is no longer feasible. The delay times of government and markets preclude sustainable development from catching up in time to combat the momentum of 40 years of pollution, resource depletion and population trends. In short, the train is heading down the tracks too fast and has too much momentum. It’s too late to try to slow it down in time and the best thing to do is to make our communities and institutions as resilient as possible.

This is a deeply troubling message to try to internalize. Rander’s is talking about radical population and industrial output decline…up to tens of percentages. In absolute numbers, this would imply the largest human catastrophe on the planet…billions of people dying in a few years. What will be left after this will be a radically transformed civilization.