From WIRED, 22 May 2023:
Half a century ago, a small group of esteemed thinkers that called itself the Club of Rome got together to chew over a thorny question: What would happen if humanity continued to consume the world’s finite resources as if they were limitless? Their efforts generated the now-famous 1972 paper “The Limits to Growth,” in which they modeled what might lie in wait for humanity.
It wasn’t a pretty picture. The world, they predicted, was on a trajectory to overshoot its capacity to support continued growth at some point in the first half of this century. Continuing with business as usual—burning through resources while polluting the environment and pumping out carbon—would result in a “sudden and uncontrollable decline” in food production, population, and industrial output by the end of the 21st century. Or put simply, global collapse.
Fast forward 50 years, and humanity is still in deep trouble. In 2020, econometrician Gaya Herrington revisited and updated the Club of Rome’s modeling to see whether we’ve shifted off this terrible trajectory and found that we’ve barely moved the needle. But while we’re still on this dire path, all hope is not lost. WIRED spoke to Herrington to find out what she thinks might happen, how humankind can safeguard its future, and how we have a chance to step up and not just survive, but thrive. Read more.