In ‘2052 – A Global Forecast for the next 40 years‘, Jorgen Randers draws on his own experience in the sustainability area, global forecasting tools, and the predictions – included in the book – of more than thirty leading scientists, economists, futurists, and other thinkers to guide us through the future he feels is most likely to emerge.
Glimpse 2-1 ‘The Dark Decades: Privilege and Polarization’
From a half century of progressive enlightenment and increasing well-being we are moving to a new Dark Age of hard times for the many and inordinate privilege and wealth for the few. Upward social mobility was a general phenomenon from after 1945 until about 1990. In one and two generations, families moved from being poor or working class to middle class and upper middle class. In the United States, reindustrialization, economic growth, broad university access, labor union–negotiated benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance did the trick.
In western Europe, their equivalents in social democratic economies and European Union (EU) policies resulted in well-functioning welfare states providing a better life with expanding opportunities for urban workers, farmers, artisans, and small businessowners. Working hours shortened and vacations lengthened while purchasing power increased and healthy, youthful pensioners came to see retirement as a “golden age.” Read more
Glimpse 2-2: ‘Constraining Asian Consumption’
In 2011, the world witnessed yet another convulsion of global markets due to US debt concerns and the unraveling of European economies. Decades of mismanagement and denial were rooted in a misplaced belief that a consumption-led growth model underpinned by excessive borrowing would deliver prosperity for all and forever.
The turmoil in 2011 and the financial crisis of 2008 had their origins in the almost religious belief of the West in free markets that has gone on to dominate global financial markets for the past three decades. This long-held belief that markets, technology, and finance, coupled with democracy, can offer everyone every freedom and solve all the problems of the world needs to be reconsidered, to say the very least. Read more
Glimpse 2-3: ‘Shuffling towards Sustainability’
Historians writing in 2052 will remark on three distinctive features of the first half of the twenty-first century. The first will be in relation to the physical environment. They will note, with all the wisdom that hindsight and modern sensing and measurement technology offer, that profound changes occurred in the earth’s biophysical systems over the previous four to five decades.
These will include changes in the chemistry of the planet’s atmosphere and weather systems; in the diversity and regenerative capacity of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems; and in the quantity and quality of natural capital, both nonrenewable and renewable. The combined consequence of these developments, they will note, had not only resulted in the greatest reduction the planet’s capacity to provide ecosystem services since Homo sapiens began spreading out of Africa, but also precipitated a new era of climatic instability characterized by increased warming. Read more