A new study, developed by a director of the accounting firm KPMG on a model created in 1972 by MIT researchers, reveals that the then prediction of the collapse of society in the 21st century remains current.
The model, called World3, was created from empirical data and published in the book ‘Limits to Growth’, revealed the Vice. The model was intended to answer the question of what would happen if humanity continued to seek the economic growth, regardless of the social and environmental cost.
At the time, researchers concluded that, without drastic changes, industrial society was headed for collapse.
“Given the grim prospect of collapse, I was curious to see which scenarios were most in line with current empirical data,” said Gaya Herrington, director of Consulting, Internal Audit and Risk at KPMG, who wrote the new article.
“The book that presented this worldwide model was a ‘best seller’ in the 1970s and we would now have several decades of empirical data to make a meaningful comparison. But, to my surprise, I have not been able to find recent attempts in this direction. So I decided to do this alone”, she said.
This new study, published in Yale Journal of Industrial Ecology, concluded that the 1972 model is aligned with recent data. Without change, global civilization is heading for economic decline in the next decade, which could lead to the collapse of society around 2040.
Gaya Herrington analyzed data on population, fertility and mortality rates, industrial production, food production, services, non-renewable resources, persistent pollution, human well-being and ecological footprint.
“Seeking growth [económico] continuous is not possible. Even when combined with unprecedented technology development and adoption, businesses” such as today’s “would inevitably lead to declines in industrial capital, agricultural production and welfare levels in this century,” explained the author.
However, although the window for making the necessary changes to avoid the worst-case scenario is small, “a deliberate change of trajectory caused by society, focused on a goal other than growth, is still possible”, pointed out the article.
Gaya Herrington’s study is not conducted by KPMG, although the company has published it on its official website. The director conducted the research as part of her master’s thesis at Harvard University.
Taísa Pagno //