In 1972, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a study called World3, according to which by the middle of the 21st century the world expects a great social and economic collapse of industrial civilization due to the overexploitation of the planet’s resources.

By all accounts, the study was correct. At least Gaia Herrington, the head of the department of stability analysis and dynamic systems in one of the largest accounting firms in the world KPMG, in her research confirms the prediction 50 years ago.

Mrs. Herrington conducted research on ten variables: population, fertility, mortality, industrial output, food production, services, use of non-renewable resources, persistent pollution, general welfare, and the ecological footprint.

Illustration: Svetlana Chuvileva / Media

According to her research, the latest data most closely match two scenarios: CT (end-to-end technology) and BAU2 (business as usual).

The BAU2 and CT scenarios show growth to stop in about ten years. Thus, both scenarios indicate that it is impossible to continue doing business and strive for continuous growth. Even when combined with unprecedented technological development and the introduction of new technologies, ordinary business will face a simulated “Limit to Growth” (LtG). This will inevitably lead to a decline in industrial capital, agricultural production and welfare levels in this century.

Gaia Herrington

Head of Stability and Dynamic Systems Analysis Department

In the comment MotherboardHerrington said that according to the BAU2 model, by 2040, one should expect first a halt in development, and then a sharp decline, which will affect food production and living standards.

The CT scenario is slightly more optimistic: a decline is also expected by 2040, but still, a collapse will not happen:

The least true scenario is SW (Sustainable World). According to him, society experiences the smallest decline in economic growth:

However, only the first two scenarios correspond to the observed empirical data. Now society is moving according to them, but over the next ten years, as much as possible needs to be done to avoid the BAU2 scenario.

Thus, at this point, the data is most consistent with the CT and BAU2 scenarios, which indicate a slowdown and possible stagnation in growth over the next decade or so. However, World3 leaves open the question of whether the subsequent decline will be a collapse. The scenario of “sustainable peace” is tracked least accurately, but still possible. To do this, society must strive for a goal other than growth. But the cap to growth implies that this window of opportunity is closing quickly.

Gaia Herrington

Head of Stability and Dynamic Systems Analysis Department

The next ten years, according to Mrs. Herrington’s research, will be decisive for the development of the world as a whole. There are optimistic moments. For example, the rapidly increasing number of environmental and social priorities, as well as how quickly the world was able to make confident steps out of the pandemic. However, this is all easy to cross out.

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