Welcome to 2015 – the year it all starts to collapse

“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” ~ Kenneth Boulding

In 1972, a think tank called the Club of Rome commissioned MIT scientists to study long-term trends in population, food production, industrialization, use of resources and pollution.  The results of the study were ultimately published in a highly-controversial book titled Limits to Growth. The book wasn’t controversial for predicting steady increases in global population, food production, industrialization, use of resources and pollution from 1972 until approximately 2014.

The book was controversial for predicting a catastrophic collapse of the global economy – and global population – starting around 2015. What could possibly cause such a global cataclysm? Obviously, a number of factors would contribute.  But the primary causes are identified as (1) resource depletion that leads to ever more capital being used for resource extraction, which causes industrial output to fall, (2) mounting problems from pollution and climate disruption, and (3) falling food production per capita.

Will it, or even could it actually happen?  It’s easy enough to dismiss the results of the 42-year old study, especially considering how apocalyptic the outcome predicted by the study.  But what if they’re correct?  What if the global economy, and global population, will collapse during the coming years, if we don’t immediately transition to a more sustainable world?

Some follow-up studies to determine the accuracy of the original MIT study have been completed. As can be seen in these reports, those follow-up studies showed the MIT study has been eerily prescient:




But just becasue the MIT study accurately predicted growth trends for the 42 years between 1972 and 2014, does it conclusively indicate mankind is about to go over a dizzying precipice?  No, it doesn’t.  But with humanity facing such a potentially catastrophic future, is it worth the risk?  Are we really willing to gamble with the future of humanity, because we’re simply unwilling to change until we have proof of the looming apocalypse?

About the Author

Mark H. Witte is a strong proponent for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and believes individuals should have more control over how the energy for their homes is produced.