In 1972, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) predicted that human efforts for economic growth regardless of environmental and societal costs would cause society to collapse by the middle of the 21st century – a new study finds this may be true.
Herrington Style, Sustainability and Leader of Dynamic Systems Analysis at KPMG, does the job of proving or refuting MIT’s claims and using a world simulation model that analyzes how our world has evolved since 1972.
Herrington looked at 10 key variables, such as population, industrial output and ongoing pollution, and determined the business mentality as usual would trigger a decline in economic growth in the next decade.
However, the data points to a more bleak future – our world could experience a social collapse by 2040.
The collapse of society as a whole will mean a decline in quality of life, food production, industrial production and ultimately the human population.
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The new study looks at 10 key variables, such as population, industrial output and ongoing pollution, and determines the business mentality as usual will trigger a decline in economic growth in the next decade.
MIT made their predictions using a computer program called World1 and looked back as far as 1900 and throughout the year to 2060.
Data is generated on long pieces of white paper and appears as graphic lines.
In a 1972 discovery video, MIT’s Jerry Foster, who developed World1, revealed innovation to the world and used MIT’s work to do so.
Foster shows how the population has increased from 1900 to the turn of the century.
However, the data points to a more bleak future – our world could experience a total collapse of society by 2040. A total collapse will mean a sharp decline in quality of life, food production, industrial production and eventually the human population.
The line started low and then continued to rise until a few years after 2000 where it then declined.
Another example he uses is quality of life, which increased rapidly until the 1940s and then declined until 2020 when seeing other increases.
However, the model also identifies 2020 as a starting point for civilization.
“Around 2020, the state of the planet becomes very critical. If we don’t do anything, the quality of life goes down to zero,” Foster said in a 1973 ABC segment.
‘Pollution becomes so serious that it will start killing people, which in turn will cause the population to dwindle, lower than in 1900. At this point, around 2040 to 2050, civilized life as we know it on the planet will cease to exist.’
Herrington uses the same model, but a third version of the simulation called World3, and looks at 10 key variables: population, fertility rate, mortality rate, industrial output, food production, services, non -renewable resources, persistent pollution, human well -being, and ecological footprints, as first reported by VICE.
The researchers found data from the world simulation program aligned with two specific scenarios, ‘BAU2’ (business as usual) and ‘CT’ (comprehensive technology). “The BAU2 and CT scenarios show a cessation of growth in a decade or so from now,” the study reads
He found that the latest data was well suited to two specific scenarios, ‘BAU2’ (business as usual) and ‘CT’ (comprehensive technology).
‘The BAU2 and CT scenarios show growth that stops in a decade or so from now,’ concludes a study published in the Yale Journal of Industrial Ecology.
Thus, both scenarios suggest that continuing business as usual, i.e. to continue sustained growth, is unlikely to be done.
“Despite being paired with the unprecedented development and adoption of technology, business as usual as modeled by LtG [Limits of Growth, the MIT book based on its study] will inevitably lead to a decline in industrial capital, agricultural production, and levels of prosperity in this century. ‘
While the 1972 simulation showed society was doomed, the Herrington study added that technological advances and investing more in public services could move us from collapse.
However, humanity must work hard in the coming decades to change the bleak future.
“Thus, at this point, the data best fits the CT and BAU2 scenarios showing slowdown and eventual growth in the next decade or so, but World3 leaves open whether the next decline will be a collapse,” the study concluded.
‘While the‘ stable world ’scenario runs the closest, a deliberate change of trajectory by society turning towards goals other than growth is still possible. LtG’s work shows that this opportunity will close quickly. ‘