A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years
Forty years ago, The Limits to Growth study addressed the grand question of how humans would adapt to the physical limitations of planet Earth. It predicted that during the first half of the 21st century the ongoing growth in the human ecological footprint would stop-either through catastrophic “overshoot and collapse”-or through well-managed “peak and decline.”
So, where are we now? And what does our future look like? In the book 2052, Jorgen Randers, one of the coauthors of Limits to Growth, issues a progress report and makes a forecast for the next forty years. To do this, he asked dozens of experts to weigh in with their best predictions on how our economies, energy supplies, natural resources, climate, food, fisheries, militaries, political divisions, cities, psyches, and more will take shape in the coming decades. He then synthesized those scenarios into a global forecast of life as we will most likely know it in the years ahead.
The good news: we will see impressive advances in resource efficiency, and an increasing focus on human well-being rather than on per capita income growth. But this change might not come as we expect. Future growth in population and GDP, for instance, will be constrained in surprising ways-by rapid fertility decline as result of increased urbanization, productivity decline as a result of social unrest, and continuing poverty among the poorest 2 billion world citizens. Runaway global warming, too, is likely.
So, how do we prepare for the years ahead? With heart, fact, and wisdom, Randers guides us along a realistic path into the future and discusses what readers can do to ensure a better life for themselves and their children during the increasing turmoil of the next forty years.
- Atlas Awards, 2012 Accomplishments
- Association of Professional Futurists, Most Important Futures Work, Second Place
- German Environmental Yearbook Book of the Month (August 2012)
- The Society of Environmental Journalists, Rachel Carson Environment Book Award, Honorable Mention (Reporting on the Environment)
Reviews and Praise
In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Limits to Growth (CH, Nov'73), Randers (climate strategy, BI Norwegian Business School) forecasts changes in population, consumption, energy use, emissions, quality of life, and climate over the next 40 years. As one of the original contributors to Limits to Growth, the author's current forecast is based on the ‘overshoot and collapse’ scenario. Regional scenarios highlight the distribution of benefits and costs from climate change across the globe, underscoring the distinct consequences on the developed and developing world. The author emphasizes that shortsighted decision making associated with democracy is ill suited to handle climate change, given its long-term outcomes. A novel feature of this work is the inclusion of predictions from more than two dozen experts working in ecology, political science, industry, and economics. These individual contributions are woven into the larger story to provide comparison with the author's predictions. Overall, this work is accessible to a general audience; however, Randers's limited analysis and justification of model assumption restrict the usefulness of this book as a stand-alone text. It could be useful in conjunction with some formal texts on globalization, economics, and the environment. Summing Up: Optional. General readers and undergraduate students.
More Reviews and Praise
Randers has made it his life's work to caution the world about the dangers of unfettered expansion, and to seek out solutions to current and prospective problems. Beginning with The Limits to Growth in 1972, he has explored possible scenarios for our social, economic, and environmental future. In this global study, Randers presents a forecast for the next 40 years, supported by ‘statistical data, anecdotal stories, impressions from traveling the world…formal analyses of particular developments,’ and short essays by a variety of experts. While he discusses his own opinions—such as his belief that the world economy must shift its focus from ‘fossil-fuelled economic growth’ to ‘sustainable well-being’ — the enormous amount of information and speculation here function additionally as an excellent springboard for a timely discourse. And open and informed conversation seems crucial to Randers's project—indeed, he posits that unchecked climate change is not a technological problem, but a political one. Randers and his colleagues present a portrait of the future that is radically different from today, but not entirely bleak: while he believes that the worst of his predictions are possible, he humbly asks his readers to ‘help make my forecast wrong.’
"This thoughtful and thought-provoking book will be inspiring, and challenging, for all who really care about our common future."--Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway; leader, World Commission on Environment and Development
"A sober, cogent, and courageous assessment of a future not dictated by fate, or economics, or limits to technology, but by the most egregious leadership failure in history. But there is still time to change course...just enough time and no more."--David W. Orr, Oberlin College, author of Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse
"Read 2052 and get the views of a great futurist-one with a fine track record of being right."--Paul R. Ehrlich, author of The Dominant Animal
"This is an extraordinary and profoundly important book. Randers' mastery of many fields is impressive, and he presents his 'best guess' future with clarity and force. As a result, he provides a challenging template against which we can judge our own expectations for mid-century."--James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible
"An unconventional and lucid explanation of the likely macroeconomic developments of the world over the next forty years."--Lord Nicholas Stern, author, The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change; chair, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics
"With clarity, conscience, and courage, global-systems pioneer Jorgen Randers and his distinguished contributors map the forces that will shape the next four decades. Their sobering but far from despairing insights will encourage all who strive in applied hope to build a society worthy of nature's legacy and humans' potential."--Amory B. Lovins, chairman and chief scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute; senior author, Reinventing Fire; coauthor, Natural Capitalism
"It's too late to wonder how different and refreshingly breathable the world would be if everyone had listened hard to Jorgen Randers 40 years ago. The question now is if we'll heed him this time. Here's our chance. Please seize it, everyone."--Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us and Gaviotas
About The Author
|Book Art:||Black and white illustrations|
|Size:||6 x 9 inch|
|Publisher:||Chelsea Green Publishing|
|Pub. Date:||June 13, 2012|
Available In/Retail PricePaperback, 416 pages, $24.95
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