Warming and local collapses in decades says Club of Rome

A new report from major think tank the Club of Rome has some dire predictions for the near future. A press release includes:

2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, by Jorgen Randers, launched by the Club of Rome on May 7, raises the possibility that humankind might not survive on the planet if it continues on its path of over-consumption and short-termism.

In the Report author Jorgen Randers raises essential questions: How many people will the planet be able to support? Will the belief in endless growth crumble? Will runaway climate change take hold? Where will quality of life improve, and where will it decline? Using painstaking research, and drawing on contributions from more than 30 thinkers in the field, he concludes that:

  • While the process of adapting humanity to the planet’s limitations has started, the human response could be too slow.
  • The current dominant global economies, particularly the United States, will stagnate. Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and ten leading emerging economies (referred to as ‘BRISE’ in the Report) will progress.
  • But there will still be 3 billion poor in 2052.
  • China will be a success story, because of its ability to act.
  •  Global population will peak in 2042, because of falling fertility in urban areas
  •  Global GDP will grow much slower than expected, because of slower productivity growth in mature economies.
  • CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere will continue to grow and cause +2°C in 2052; temperatures will reach +2.8°C in 2080, which may well trigger self-reinforcing climate change.

The Report says the main cause of future problems is the excessively short-term predominant political and economic model. “We need a system of governance that takes a more long-term view”, said Professor Randers, speaking in Rotterdam. “It is unlikely that governments will pass necessary regulation to force the markets to allocate more money into climate friendly solutions, and must not assume that markets will work for the benefit of humankind”.

 

We already live in a manner that cannot be continued for generations without major change. Humanity has overshot the earth’s resources, and in some cases we will see local collapse before 2052 – we are emitting twice as much greenhouse gas every year as can be absorbed by the world’s forests and oceans.”

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Published in the run-up to the Rio Summit, this Report to the Club of Rome: 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years (published by US publishers Chelsea Green)  looks at issues first raised in The Limits to Growth, 40 years ago. This earlier Report, also to the Club of Rome, of which Randers was a co-author, created shock waves by questioning the ideal of permanent growth.

Commenting on the findings of 2052, Ian Johnson, Club of Rome Secretary General said: “Professor Randers’ analysis of where the world could be in 40 years has demonstrated that ‘Business as usual’ is not an option if we want our grand-children to live in a sustainable and equitable planet. It took 40 years before the full message of The Limits to Growth was properly understood. We cannot afford any more lost decades.”

The launch of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years is part of a broader 18-month campaign by the Club of Rome: 2052: the world in 40 years to stimulate ideas on future options to shape the world in a sustainable way, taking its context from The Limits to Growth Report. The Club of Rome is a global think-tank, composed of individual members and over 30 National Associations. Its mission is to undertake forward-looking analysis and assessment on ways forward to a happier, more resilient and sustainable planet.  For more information: www.clubofrome.org

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Live Science has article based on warning in Nature, from group of scientists saying warming could lead to tipping point, and soon. Includes:

Earth is rapidly headed toward a catastrophic breakdown if humans don't get their act together, according to an international group of scientists.

Writing Wednesday (June 6) in the journal Nature, the researchers warn that the world is headed toward a tipping point marked by extinctions and unpredictable changes on a scale not seen since the glaciers retreated 12,000 years ago.

"There is a very high possibility that by the end of the century, the Earth is going to be a very different place," study researcher Anthony Barnosky told LiveScience. Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley, joined a group of 17 other scientists to warn that this new planet might not be a pleasant place to live.
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The results are difficult to predict, because tipping points, by their definition, take the planet into uncharted territory. Based on past transitions, Barnosky and his colleagues predict a major loss of species (during the end of the last glacial period, half of the large-bodied mammal species in the world disappeared), as well as changes in the makeup of species in various communities on the local level. Meanwhile, humans may well be knotting our own noose as we burn through Earth's resources.

Tipping Point? Earth Headed for Catastrophic Collapse, Researchers Warn