'Limits to Growth' projections from 1972 compared with observed trends, 1970-2000. Chart Sources: Meadows, D.H., Meadows, D.L., Randers, J. and Behrens III, W.W. (1972). Linda Eckstein / smithsonianmag.com

By Eric Pfeiffer, The Sideshow
4 April 2012

A new study from researchers at Jay W. Forrester's institute at MIT says that the world could suffer from "global economic collapse" and "precipitous population decline" if people continue to consume the world's resources at the current pace. [Here’s a pdf of Dr. Turner’s 2008 paper: “A comparison of the Limits to Growth with thirty years of reality”.]

Smithsonian Magazine writes that Australian physicist Graham Turner says "the world is on track for disaster" and that current evidence coincides with a famous, and in some quarters, infamous, academic report from 1972 entitled, The Limits to Growth.

Produced for a group called The Club of Rome, the study's researchers created a computing model to forecast different scenarios based on the current models of population growth and global resource consumption. The study also took into account different levels of agricultural productivity, birth control and environmental protection efforts. Twelve million copies of the report were produced and distributed in 37 different languages.

Most of the computer scenarios found population and economic growth continuing at a steady rate until about 2030. But without "drastic measures for environmental protection," the scenarios predict the likelihood of a population and economic crash. […]

Turner says that perhaps the most startling find from the study is that the results of the computer scenarios were nearly identical to those predicted in similar computer scenarios used as the basis for "The Limits to Growth."

"There is a very clear warning bell being rung here," Turner said. "We are not on a sustainable trajectory."

Next Great Depression? MIT researchers predict ‘global economic collapse’ by 2030

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