2052: A Global Forecast for the Next 40 Years
Is it possible to predict what the world will look like in 2052? Jorgen Randers thinks so, and his global forecast may surprise you.
In “2052,” Jorgen Randers draws on his own experience in the sustainability arena, global forecasting tools, and the predictions of more than 30 leading scientists, economists, futurists and other thinkers to guide us through the future he feels is most likely to emerge.
CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING
We know what we want the world to be like in 40 years. We know what the world could be like in 40 years if we all did what needs to be done to create a more sustainable future. But what do we know about what the world will actually be like in 40 years. This is the question Jorgen Randers tries to answer in 2052 (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012). Randers' glimpse of the future asks: How many people will the planet need to support? Will there be enough food and energy? Will the young revolt under the debt and pension burden of the old? Which nations will prosper and which will suffer? And several more pressing questions. The following excerpt is from Chapter 1, “Worrying About the Future.”
I have lived my whole adult life worrying about the future. Not about my personal future, but the global future—the future of humanity—on its small planet Earth.
Now, at sixty-six, I see that I have been worrying in vain. Not because the global future looks problem free and rosy. My worrying has been in vain because it hasn’t had much impact on global evolution over the long generation since I started worrying.
It all began when I arrived as a PhD student in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in January 1970. I had lived my prior life in little, safe, and egalitarian Norway, well shielded from global developments, focused on the mysteries of solid-state physics. Through a complicated sequence of events, by the summer of 1970 I was deeply involved in what was to become the first report to the Club of Rome on “The Predicament of Mankind,” working as a researcher in the A. P. Sloan School of Management at MIT. The report—called The Limits to Growth—described various scenarios for world development to 2100. The scenarios were based on simulation runs from a computer model, my new field of expertise.
Within a few months, my worrying was in full bloom. Our research task was to consider what would happen if the global population and economy continued their recent developments for a hundred years or so. It did not take much quantitative skill to discover that our planet was much too small, and that humanity was facing serious trouble some fifty years down the line—that is, unless humanity made a conscious and unconventional decision to change its ways.
We published The Limits to Growth in 1972, with our recommendations about what should be done in order to promote sustainable well-being on our finite planet. I spent the 1970s and 1980s worrying about whether humanity would in fact be wise enough to heed our advice and change its global policies and behavior—in time. I used a lot of time and energy, in various roles, trying to convince people that changing would be much better than following traditional patterns. After 1993 I left academia and upped the intensity of my effort by working through WWF—the big influential nature-conservation organization that is called the World Wildlife Fund in the United States. Since 2005 I have focused more narrowly on stopping climate change.
Page: 1 | 2
| Next >>