Is the world going to end in 2040? MIT simulation predicted we’re about to hit ‘turning point’

Rob Waugh
Contributor
Is our world on the brink of collapse? Rex

Is the world about to hit a ‘turning point’ where our demands on our planet tip us over into an irreversible decline?

It sounds like the ravings of doomsday fans on weird YouTube channels – but it was predicted by academics in the early Seventies.

A project by computer modelling pioneer Jay Forrester, MIT for the ‘Club of Rome’ – a group of politicians and scientists – predicted a ‘tipping point’ in 2020.

The ‘World’ model predicts an ‘extreme pollution crisis’ and out-of-control population in the years after 2020.

The so-called ‘World model’ evolved, with a new version, World3, inspiring the 1972 book ‘The Limits of Growth’.

So is it right? Are we all really doomed?

Computing pioneer Jay Forrester (Getty)

The model has been updated since, and while it’s been criticised, others have hailed it as inspiring governments to consider these issues.

The authors of the book Surviving 1,000 Centuries Roger-Maurice Bonnet and Lodewyk Woltjer, write, ‘The conclusion was that disaster was waiting around the corner in a few decades because of resource exhaustion, pollution and other factors. Now, 35 years later, our world still exists.’

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So the ‘growth lobby’ has laughed and proclaimed that Limits to Growth and, by extension, the environmental movements may be forgotten. This entirely misses the point. Certainly the timescale of the problems was underestimated in Limits to Growth, giving us a little more time than we thought.

‘However, the basic message of Limits to Growth, that exponential growth of our world civilization cannot continue very long and that a very careful management of the planet is needed, remain as valid as ever.’