Two scenarios that provide valuable insights
Earth for All presents the results of a two-year research project that uses a modern system dynamics data model to simulate how the world might evolve over time.
“In our book, we describe two scenarios that begin in 1980 and end in 2100. These scenarios show how the population, economies, resource use, pollution, welfare and social tension could change this century depending on the policies we choose to adopt,” explains Per Espen Stoknes, one of the leaders of the research project, which is a collaboration between BI Norwegian Business School, the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Club of Rome.
The “Too Little, Too Late” scenario
This scenario shows what could happen if we do nothing, and simply continue the economic policies we have maintained for the last 40 years. Although the gross domestic product (GDP) will increase and people will become wealthier, inequality will also increase, along with the temperature, leading to more intense social unrest and greater conflict.
“Without action, there is a growing chance of local social collapse, local variants of the type of global environmental collapse described in The Limits to Growth, the 1972 groundbreaking study on the future by the Club of Rome,” says Randers, who co-authored the now 50-year-old study.
The “Giant Leap” scenario
This scenario shows what could happen if we implement extensive turnaround operations at a rapid pace up to 2050. With these changes, we can keep the temperature rise below 2 °C (above pre-industrial levels), stabilise the world population at well under nine billion, reduce pollution, preserve more forests with biodiversity, and approach an end to extreme global poverty.
“Unless extraordinary measures are taken, we will see a lasting decline in the welfare of most people, even in wealthy countries,” says Stoknes, who is also co-author of the book Earth for All.