Science & Technology
1972 report predicted societal collapse by 2040
By T.K. Randall
July 17, 2021 · 37 comments
Are we headed for the end of modern society as we know it ? Image Credit: PD - Alfred Palmer
A 1972 MIT report predicted that modern civilization would collapse by the middle of the 21st Century.
Just under 50 years ago, a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology got together to investigate the risks of societal collapse.
The system dynamics model they came up with predicted that modern industrial civilization was on course to collapse sometime around the middle of the 21st Century due to overexploitation of the planet's natural resources - something that appears dangerously close to becoming true.
While at the time the team's findings were widely criticized and misrepresented, a more recent study penned by the senior director of a major accounting firm has concluded that the MIT researchers' predictions about societal collapse should be taken a lot more seriously.
"Given the unappealing prospect of collapse, I was curious to see which scenarios were aligning most closely with empirical data today," said study author Gaya Herrington of KPMG.
"After all, the book that featured this world model was a bestseller in the 70s, and by now we'd have several decades of empirical data which would make a comparison meaningful."
"But to my surprise I could not find recent attempts for this. So I decided to do it myself."
According to Herrington, the collapse "does not mean that humanity will cease to exist", but instead means that "economic and industrial growth will stop, and then decline, which will hurt food production and standards of living."
"Even when paired with unprecedented technological development and adoption, business as usual as modelled by LtG would inevitably lead to declines in industrial capital, agricultural output, and welfare levels within this century," the study reads.
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