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2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years

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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 co-authors of ...

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2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years

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Overview


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 co-authors 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher

"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

Choice-
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.

Publishers Weekly-
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.’

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603584210
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/13/2012
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 359,512
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Jorgen Randers is professor of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, where he works on climate issues and scenario analysis. He was previously president of BI and deputy director general of WWF International (World Wildlife Fund) in Switzerland. He lectures internationally on sustainable development and especially climate, and is a nonexecutive member of a number of corporate boards. He sits on the sustainability councils of British Telecom in the UK and the Dow Chemical Company in the United States. In 2006 he chaired the cabinet-appointed Commission on Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions, which reported on how Norway can cut its climate gas emissions by two-thirds by 2050. Randers has written numerous books and scientific papers, and was coauthor of The Limits to Growth in 1972, Beyond the Limits in 1992, and Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Updatein 2004.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Preface: What Will the Future Bring? xiii

Part 1 Background

1 Worrying about the Future 1

Why Now? 3

Is a Forecast Possible? 4

Why Forty Years? 6

Bases for an Educated Guess 7

Full Steam Ahead with a Peaceful Mind 10

2 Five Big Issues toward 2052 11

The Sustainability Revolution 12

Five Central Issues Involving System Change 13

The End of Capitalism? 14

Glimpse 2-1: The Dark Decades: Privilege and Polarization 15

The End of Economic Growth? 23

Glimpse 2-2: Constraining Asian Consumption 23

The End of Slow Democracy? 30

Glimpse 2-3: Shuffling toward Sustainability 31

The End of Generational Harmony? 36

Glimpse 2-4: Intergenerational War of Equity 36

The End of Stable Climate? 40

Glimpse 2-5: Extreme Weather in 2052 43

Part 2 My Global Forecast

3 The Logic behind My Forecast 53

The Guiding Star 54

A Broad-Brush Picture 54

A Brief Summary of My Story 55

The Deterministic Backbone 56

Linear Presentation of a Circular Maze 57

The Mathematical Formulation 58

A Final Note on the Data Base 59

4 Population and Consumption to 2052 62

Population Will Peak 62

Workforce Will Peak a Little Earlier 65

Productivity Will Grow, but Meet Obstacles 67

Production (GDP) Will Grow, but More and More Slowly 70

Glimpse 4-1: The End of Uneconomic Growth 73

Investments-Forced and Voluntary-Will Increase 78

New Costs Will Emerge 81

Adaptation and Disaster Costs Will Explode 86

The State Will Get More Involved 88

Glimpse 4-2: Light Green Growth 90

Consumption Will Stagnate-and Fall in Some Places 93

5 Energy and CO2 to 2052 99

Energy Efficiency Will Continue to Rise 99

Energy Use Will Grow, but Not Forever 102

Climate Intensity Will Be Reduced by Renewables 103

Glimpse 5-1: The Road to PV 106

Glimpse 5-2: The Death of Nuclear 110

CO2 Emissions from Energy Will Peak in 2030 116

Temperature Increase Will Exceed Plus 2°C 118

Plus 2°C Will Cause Real Difficulties 120

Glimpse 5-3: Troubled Arctic Waters 121

Glimpse 5-4: The Flight to the City 125

6 Food and Footprint to 2052 130

Food Production Will Satisfy Reduced Demand 130

Biofuels and White Meat Will Advance 133

Glimpse 6-1: Expensive Oil = Expensive Food 133

Glimpse 6-2: The Limits to Protein 138

Commercial Fish Stocks Will Be Confined to Regulated Fisheries 139

Planetary Ecosystems Will Suffer 143

Glimpse 6-3: The Race to Lose Last 144

Unused Bio-capacity Will Plunge 149

Glimpse 6-4: Urban Mining of Metals 151

Glimpse 6-5: Nature Limited to Parks 156

7 The Nonmaterial Future to 2052 160

Smaller GDP: Milder Push against Global Limits 161

Slower Growth in Productivity 162

Tensions from Declining Consumption 162

Prevalence of Short-Termism 164

Stronger Government 166

Forced Redistribution 167

Megacity Environment 169

Glimpse 7-1: Megacity Living and Externalization of the Mind Omnipresent Internet 171

Omnipresent Internet 174

Disappearing Charms 175

Better Health 177

Glimpse 7-2: Individual Health from Public Care 178

Armed Forces Fighting New Threats 181

Glimpse 7-3: The Future of War and the Rise of Robots 182

Glimpse 7-4: Military for Sustainability 185

8 The Zeitgeist in 2052 190

Fragmentation: More Focus on Local Solutions 190

Glimpse 8-1: Scotland Joins New Europe 191

Glimpse 8-2: The End of Mediterranean Disparity 196

Glimpse 8-3: Slum Urbanism in Africa 200

A New Paradigm: Less Fixation with Economic Growth 203

Glimpse 8-4: Valuing the Whole 205

Modified Capitalism: A Stronger Role for Wise Government 210

Glimpse 8-5: Systemic CSR, or CSR 2.0 214

Collective Creativity: A Web of Inspired Individuals 218

Glimpse 8-6: Harnessing the Wisdom of the Crowd 218

Glimpse 8-7: Peak Youth Gaming for the Public Good 222

Integenerational Equity: Widening the Lens 226

Part 3 Analysis

9 Reflections on the Future 229

The Main Drivers 229

The Future in Graphs 231

The Cliff-Hanger 234

My Own Reactions 236

Eight Straight Questions about the Future 239

Wild Cards 250

The Path to 2052 254

Glimpse 9-1: Sudden Rush to Solar 256

Glimpse 9-2: Financing the Future 260

10 Five Regional Futures 265

Toward 2052: The United States 266

Glimpse 10-1: Bright Solar Future 270

Toward 2052: China 274

Glimpse 10-2: China-the New Hegemon 274

Toward 2052: OECD-less-US 283

Toward 2052: Brise 288

Glimpse 10-3: Rich on Biofuels 292

Toward 2052: Rest of the World 296

11 Comparison with Other Futures 300

Testing against a Global Computer Model 300

Comparison with The Limits to Growth Studies 301

Overshoot and Collapse in Some Detail 307

Perspectives on the Second Half of the Twenty-First Century 313

Glimpse 11-1: The Fifth Cultural Step 314

Glimpse 11-2: The Third Flowering of the Tree of Life 318

12 What Should You Do? 323

What Global Society Ideally Should Have Done 325

Twenty Pieces of Personal Advice 328

Learn to Live with Impending Disaster without Losing Hope 351

Closing Words 353

Appendices 354

1 Summary 354

2 Definitions and Data Sources 356

3 Further Reading for the 2052 Glimpses 359

4 Extra Data on Fertility and Productivity 366

Notes 368

Index 377

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