In ‘2052 – A Global Forecast for the next 40 years‘, Jørgen 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.
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
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
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
The next forty years will rank as one of the most crucial periods in the development of human civilization. The massive changes taking place will influence all people and countries, but there will be regional variations.
The Western world will see the most fundamental changes, and there will be one particular decade—the 2020s—that will carry the same monumental importance as the year 1848 did for the citizens of many European countries. That was the year that several centuries of struggle between the people and the ruling feudal class culminated in revolution. Suddenly Europeans had entered a new era. Read more
There are a number of analytical computer-based tools for projecting the outcomes of different assumptions concerning climate gas emissions during the rest of this century. To bring some order to the plethora of forecasts, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2000 established a set of six standard scenarios for global socioeconomic-technological development to 2100.
IPCC uses these scenarios to estimate the future climate gas emissions in each scenario and provide assessment reports that reflect the current knowledge about the resulting climate change in each scenario. The latest assessment, published in 2007, concluded that the global average surface temperature is most likely to increase by 2.5°C by 2100 in the scenario with the lowest emissions (“B1”) and by 4.8°C in scenario with the highest emissions (“A1FI”)—all relative to the temperature in preindustrial times. The temperature increase by 2050 was estimated to be between 1.8°C and 2.2 °C. The current temperature is 0.7oC higher than in preindustrial times. Read more
Will humanity come to its senses and deliberately slow economic growth in order to save the planet? I think not, but I do think there will be a shift in the composition of future economic activity, so it becomes less damaging to values that are currently not priced in the marketplace.
Forty years ago when I read The Limits to Growth I already believed that growth in total resource use (population times per capita resource use) would stop within the next forty years. The modeling analysis of the Limits team was a strong confirmation of that commonsense belief, based on principles going back at least to Malthus and earlier classical economists. Read more
Historically, economic growth has increased both consumption levels and the loads on the environment. The question now is whether consumption growth can continue while we reduce the human ecological footprint. And, especially, while we dramatically curtail climate gas emissions.
Today, in the framework of sustainable development, some argue that continued growth in GDP may be compatible with avoiding an environmental disaster. A recent example of this rather optimistic way of thinking appears in a report from the OECD. A green growth strategy is centered on mutually reinforcing aspects of economic and environmental policies. It takes into account the full value of natural capital as a factor of production and its role in growth. Read more
In 2012, the prospect for renewable energy looked gloomier than it did a year ago. Particularly in Europe, the financial crisis has led to radical cuts in incentives and targets for renewables.
In the United States, and other markets, electricity prices are stagnating or even declining, not least due to abundant supply from the newborn shale-gas industry. The prospects for a global climate deal that could trigger the required investments in green energy seem depressingly far away. It is not surprising, therefore, that shares in clean-tech companies have dropped more than in any other industry sector over the last eighteen months. Read more
In 2052, only two countries, France and China, will be generating any electricity from nuclear energy at all—and both awill have decided to get out of nuclear altogether by 2065. I suspect there are few people who subscribe to such a view today. Despite the Fukushima reactor disaster in spring 2011, the prevailing mood in many countries in autumn 2011 remained broadly supportive of some kind of nuclear renaissance.
However, even before Fukushima, this renaissance was not quite all it was made out to be. As energy expert Amory Lovins points out, “There are now 61 nuclear plants ‘officially’ under construction. However, of those 61 units, 12 have been ‘under construction’ for over 20 years; 43 have no official start-up date; half are late; 45 are in four centrally planned and untransparent power systems, and not one was a genuinely free-market transaction.” Read more
The key actors in this story are small, typically just a few millimetres. In fact, planktonic Calanus (relatives of crabs and lobsters) remind us that the big players are not always large in size. But in the Arctic seas, Calanus are large in numbers, and they play a vital role. They are among the noble group of organisms that definitely earn the title keystone species. And understanding what could happen to Calanus as Arctic waters warm tells us much about the future of life in high-latitude seas.
Ecological and economic systems share several properties, including the fact that predicting their future is difficult because everything in them depends on everything else. They are both characterised by multiple interacting feedback loops—cause-and-effect cycles that now and then produce counterintuitive responses. Sometimes, change is gradual. At other times, seemingly small impacts can trigger a big reaction and possibly set in swing irreversible large-scale change. Read more
From now until 2040 the world’s urban population will grow from 3.5 to about five billion. The scale and speed of this urban growth will exceed anything witnessed before in human history. This increase of 1.5 billion will absorb virtually all of the world’s population growth during the time. Most of the growth in city dwelling will occur in what is currently called the developing world, principally in Asia and Africa. China and India alone will account for more than one-third of the total increase.
Much of the growth will result from natural increases—higher birth than death rates—within existing cities. But a significant minority will come from rural to urban migration and urban area reclassification. The migrants will be motivated by both the pull of better employment opportunities and social services and the push of displacement caused by rural environmental and economic degradation. Read more
Will it be possible to feed the world population in 2052? The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) certainly hopes so. But the answer, I believe, is both yes and no. Sufficient volumes of food can be produced, but I think the price of the food will be so high that the poor of the world will not be able to afford a decent diet.
This will hold even more true if the world decides to considerably scale up the use of biofuels, which will be bought by affluent drivers at prices determined by the price of fossil fuels. And this is more, per unit of grain equivalent, than the poor can pay. The result could be famine among the poor as the world’s agriculture sector fuels cars rather than feeding people. Read more
Scarcity of high-quality animal protein—partly from land-based animals and partly from fish and other products from salt or freshwater—will confront us over the next forty years.
Total world protein production will likely remain similar to present-day levels. The catch of marine fish has already stagnated and may decline dramatically toward 2052. But the decline will be compensated for through aquaculture production, as long as there is enough feed. The availability of feed, too, will determine supplies of land-based protein such as beef, chicken, and pork. Read more
At a private lunch when I recently asked one of the world’s highest-ranking international diplomats what, among all the possible scenarios for Pakistan, was the most positive vision she held, everyone around the table laughed nervously.
This diplomat was surprisingly honest. She admitted that she had not one positive vision for Pakistan. She was candid about a view that leaders widely hold but seldom acknowledge: humanity is on a slippery slope of resource depletion. It is unlikely leaders can do anything about it. Hence, their job is to make sure their people will lose last. This means securing for their people enough resources from the globe’s diminishing resource pie to ensure that their nation will float even if others sink. Read more
By 2052, for many materials, and especially metals, urban mining will exceed extractive mining. That is to say, it will become more economically attractive to recover and recycle than to dig and refine. This transformation will be driven by a combination of three key factors.
First will be the increasing scarcity of some naturally occurring metal ores. Second will be high level of societal stocks for many of the more common elements such as iron and aluminum. And third will be ever-higher processing costs associated with ore refining. Read more
Biodiversity is the diversity of life at various levels of organisation, ranging from genes to species, ecosystems, biomes, and landscapes. As far as we can tell, the earth just before the appearance of modern humans was the most biodiverse it has ever been during the 3.5 billion years of life’s tenure on this planet, and before we began to upset things it hosted a total of somewhere between 10 million and 100 million species.
The fossil record shows us that there have been five mass extinctions in the last 400 million years or so, all due to natural causes such as meteorite impacts or flood basalt events, or possibly because of drastic internal reorganizations within biotic communities, but the greatest and fastest mass extinction is happening now and is entirely due to the economic activities of modern industrial societies. Read more
In 2052 most of the world’s population will live in big cities. Many of these cities will be very big (ten to forty million people). Furthermore, many of the smaller cities (one to five million) will be surrounded by huge urbanized areas closely connected to the infrastructure of the city. In the industrialized world, the infrastructure will be well developed so people can easily move and meet. In the less industrialised societies, the big cities will be divided into two kinds of communities, as they are today: The center (or multiple centers) will be part of the industrialized world, with adequate infrastructure. The periphery will be huge shantytowns basically without infrastructure. There will be “cities of gold” on a “planet of slums.”
However, the slums will be more integrated in the economy than presently. A new division of labor will develop within the megacity. Parts of the slum may, for instance, specialize in recycling, as we can observe in some of the large Indian cities today, while other parts may do intensive agriculture. Thirty percent of the food consumed in Kampala today is produced in the metropolitan area. Read more
It might seem foolhardy to try to forecast the development in health and medicine in forty years to come. Looking back explains why. Unpredictable discoveries changed medicine.
Just one hundred years ago, there were hardly any really effective interventions in medical practice. Granted, we had caregivers and surgeons, and chloroform and ether had been known for fifty years. But modern anesthesia didn’t arrive until the 1940s. X-ray imaging emerged in 1901. Later came contrast angiography, then computerised imaging, followed by ever more advanced methods of making pictures of the human interior. The last forty years have brought spectacular progress, in the real sense of the word. Read more
It is an easy prediction that, forty years from now, human beings will have little place on the battlefield. They will be replaced largely by robotic weapons—a trend already in motion with the rising use of remote-controlled military drones or “UCAVs” (unmanned combat aerial vehicles). We can expect the term “unmanned weapon” to become as odd as the term “horseless carriage” is today. However, it is more difficult to predict how robotic weapons will affect warfare and the structure of society. Future wars may be more frequent but probably also smaller in scale and less destructive. It is possible that robotic weapons will make the concept of a nation-state obsolete, to be replaced by structures akin to present-day corporations. These developments will occur first in rich countries with low levels of corruption and high manpower costs.
To examine the future of warfare, we can use the simulation methods used in The Limits to Growth study in 1972—methods that predict behavior within a given system and, specifically, that describe how the world’s economic system transforms natural resources into waste, or pollution. Read more
With honorable exceptions, when most of us in the sustainability field list economic sectors and corporations to target and influence, the military-industrial complex routinely falls into a collective blind spot. This is dangerous. It’s not just that we invest a great deal of money here.
Global military expenditure rose in 2010 by 1.3%, reaching a record USD 1.6 trillion, or 2.4% of world GDP, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. But even though that figure represented the lowest growth rate since 2001— and a marked slowdown from the spending increase of 5.9% in 2009, thanks to the financial crisis—the impact of military expenditures on our economies and societies remains substantial. Like other major industries, the defense sector will (because it must) mutate and evolve over time, which raises the question of what role the military will play during the next forty years. Read more
I believe that in forty years the balance of power will move further north in Europe. The countries in the ascendant will be Scandinavia, Germany, Benelux, and the Baltic states. Scotland will complete its separation from the UK to join this group, called “the New Europe” and established after the “resetting” of the EU in the late 2020s.
The southern states of Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, and the Balkans will suffer temperature increases and water shortages leading to food shortages, ill health, and unrest. Population movements will follow, including migrants from North Africa. Below I describe the future of the UK, and Scotland in particular, with a backdrop of key events elsewhere in Europe. Read more
Deep social and economic disparity has characterized the countries around the Mediterranean basin for a lengthy period of time. Those at the north of the basin, all members of the European Union, benefit from high incomes, decent social services, high educational standards, and rather stable democratic systems, but they face demographic problems with low fertility rates and aging populations.
At the other extreme, in North Africa and the Middle East—with the exception of Israel and partly Turkey—populations are still rising rapidly, incomes are low, and political instability reigns. Recently, however, a number of significant trends and changes are appearing in the Mediterranean, which seem at first glance unrelated. Read more
It is difficult to look across the next forty years and not be haunted by the past forty. According to the recent African Futures 2050 study, “Over the entire half-century [1960–2010], Eastern Africa gained only about $150 per capita and Western Africa about $130 per capita, while [annual] GDP per capita in Central Africa has remained almost unchanged since 1960.” This is an astonishing accomplishment of economic, political, and social failure. Looking ahead to 2052, an even larger and more dramatic process of systemic exclusion will occur in African cities and towns.
UN-Habitat points out that almost 62% of urban residents in sub-Saharan Africa live in slum conditions. Roughly 280 million urban dwellers are regarded as income poor. Forward-looking speculation suggests that Africa will double its population by 2052, from 1.1 billion in 2011 to 2.3 billion. The urban share will grow from 40% in 2011 to some 60% by 2052. One reasonable question is whether the majority of the urban population will continue to dwell in slums. Another is what the cumulative impacts of slum urbanism will be by 2052. Read more
I predict that by 2052 a new paradigm will be strongly emergent. Leaders in both government and business will be expected to prioritize the well-being not just of their particular constituency, nation, or shareholders, as now, but also of the wider ecological and social systems that support them.
I expect a generation of leaders to emerge who are skillful systems thinkers, who routinely consider the whole and work from a base of more inclusive values than have been the norm hitherto. This new leadership paradigm, I predict, will prove itself more effective in enabling society to meet its needs under the highly constrained circumstances that will characterize the next forty years. Read more
Corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR)—which also goes by various other proxy terms, such as corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, corporate sustainability, and business ethics—is the way in which business seeks to create shared value in society through economic development, good governance, stakeholder responsiveness, and environmental improvement. Put another way, CSR is an integrated, systemic approach by business that seeks to build, rather than erode or destroy, economic, social, human, and natural capital.
Today, companies tend to practice one of four types of CSR, depending on their level of maturity, namely, defensive CSR (compliance-driven, risk-based), charitable CSR (altruism-driven, philanthropy-based), promotional CSR (image-driven, PR-based), and strategic CSR (product driven, code-based). All four of these types of CSR—which I call CSR 1.0 collectively—have failed to reverse the most serious negative social, environmental, and ethical consequences of the “free” market. Read more
Whether they like it or not, companies are part of an ecosystem and, increasingly, will not be able to survive unless they acknowledge that they are interdependent with other “species”—including their customers, suppliers, partners, NGOs, start-ups, universities, and academics. They will need to cooperate with these and other organizations or individuals in a social and environmental context that will become even more complex in the next forty years.
And they will be faced with new problems: adapting to, not just mitigating, climate change; decoupling economic development from resource consumption; increasing well-being while decreasing material possession; and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples. In order to succeed, corporations, and human organizations in general, will need to open up way beyond what they can imagine today. Read more
In the first decade of the twenty-first century we reached an era of peak youth, a time in history when the share of youth in the world’s population was almost 29%. By 2025 there will be 72 million more, but the share will have been reduced to 23%.
In 2012 most youth live in developing countries. More of them are educated and fewer of them live in poverty. Their life expectancy is higher, and they are more connected to each other and the rest of the world, having grown up as “digital natives.” Their educational opportunities have improved. Still they live in a world of growing inequity, increasingly scarce resources, and human-induced climate change. Roughly 12 million of those aged fifteen to twenty-four are living with AIDS, three-quarters of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa, where the life expectancy is now only forty-six years. On top of all this unemployment levels among youth are increasing globally. Read more
By 2052, installation of renewable energy, particularly solar, will have swept the world, will be powering one-half of our energy generation, and will be in explosive development, fundamentally changing the global economy and geopolitical landscape. The process will be well under way by 2030. By then, the dramatic price reductions seen after 2010 will have accelerated sufficiently to enable renewable energy to overcome the powerful resistance to change by entrenched fossil-fuel interests.
In hindsight we will ask why not everyone saw that this was obviously going to happen. Solar energy and many other renewables are, after all, just another high-tech transformation—a process we have seen many times, and one we clearly understand. Read more
Long before 2052, I believe that the world’s financial markets will have become one of the main driving forces for sustainable development.
The past forty years have become known as the era of financialization. During this time rising incomes, deregulation, and technological innovation delivered a massive growth in capital markets. But it also delivered widening inequality, increased market volatility, and facilitated the continued liquidation of natural assets. Read more
Between now and 2052, the world of energy will evolve more positively than many other aspects of human culture. And in that world, electrical energy will stand out, not just for replacing fuel energy in all sectors of the United States and the world, but also for doing it much more quickly than expected. The reason for this is simple: electrical energy will be produced with much less capital intensity than fuel energy. Read more
China in 2052 will not be a nation-state in a traditional sense. It will be a civilization-state, representing a modern incarnation of the Chinese dynasties that considered themselves the center of civilization in a world of barbarians. China in 2052 will be a country and a globalised ethnic identity with a strong sense of a glorious past, which after a 150-year project of tumultuous modernization from 1911 to 2052 again will be economically strong and sufficiently mature to act on the basis of its own history and instincts. Read more
The current disenchantment with the environment in general and biofuels in particular represents a major business opportunity. Conventional first-generation biofuel from Brazil and southern Africa—in other words, sugarcane ethanol—is the most promising.
Those investors who chose to enter the ethanol game in 2010–11 were able to invest at very attractive prices. On top of that, I believe, they will benefit from the aggressive investment in biofuels that will follow accelerating climate change and technological advance in the 2020s. As a consequence there will be in 2052 global fortunes made on sugarcane ethanol. Read more
The first half of the twenty-first century will be affected by huge numbers of people wishing to catch up, first with the standard of living of those in industrialized countries, and thereafter with their democracies. At the same time, the negative effects of the current system will become clearer. Nevertheless, I do not believe there will be a great conscious choice to change that system before 2052.
Not even a total collapse of the current financial-capital system will lead to a deliberate decision in favor of transformational change. But what is already happening, and what will become clearer over the next forty years, is that the contours of the new will take shape. They are beginning to emerge on the creative periphery of current reality. Read more
Within the next forty years an event will take place that will alter not just the history of our species but the evolution of life itself. We may not know when exactly it occurs, but by 2052 we will be fully aware that it has happened. Such events have occurred twice before, but in different ways, and the third time will be different again.
To describe these past events, and the one to come, I will employ the analogy of the Tree of Life. This tree sporadically, suddenly, and spectacularly flowers15 from one of its outer branches. It has done so twice, the last time at the tip of one of its myriad outer twigs. Read more
Nick Robins (British, born 1963) is a sustainable investor and business historian. He has worked on the policy, business,...View profile
Karl Wagner (Austrian, born 1952), biologist by education and environmental campaigner by training, has spent thirty years running environmental...View profile
Jonathan Loh (British, born 1963) is a zoologist specializing in the monitoring and conservation of biological and cultural diversity....View profile
Wayne Visser (South African, born 1970) is an author, poet, social entrepreneur, speaker, researcher, and lecturer in sustainability, corporate...View profile
Alan Knight (British, born 1964) specializes in corporate sustainability and product-centric sustainability for big brands (e.g., Virgin, Kingfishe, B&Q,...View profile
Carlos Joly (Argentinian, born 1947) has lived and worked in Europe for twenty-five years. He is an investment manager...View profile
Paul Hohnen (Australian, 1950) is a consultant on sustainable development living in Europe. A former Australian diplomat, his career...View profile
Lars Hem (Norwegian, born 1945), PhD, is an associate professor of clinical psychology, Department of Psychology, Aarhus University, and...View profile
Stephan Harding (British, born 1953) holds a doctorate in behavioral ecology from the University of Oxford. He is currently...View profile
Ulrich Golüke (born 1952 in Germany) studied systems dynamics with Dennis Meadows and has worked extensively with systems, scenarios...View profile
Thomas N. Gladwin (American, born 1948) is the Max McGraw Professor of Sustainable Enterprise and associate director of the...View profile
Paul Gilding (Australian, born 1959) is an independent writer and corporate advisor. He was previously executive director of Greenpeace...View profile
Per Arild Garnåsjordet (Norwegian, born 1945) is a geographer and senior researcher at Statistics Norway. From 1995–2006 he was...View profile
John Elkington (British, born 1949) is cofounder of Environmental Data Services (ENDS, 1978), SustainAbility (1987), and Volans (2008), where...View profile
Herman E. Daly (American, born 1938) is professor emeritus in the School of Public Policy at the University of...View profile
Robert W. Corell (American, born 1934), PhD, is an oceanographer and engineer who is actively engaged in research on...View profile
Catherine Cameron (British and Guyanese, born 1963) was a member of the core team behind The Stern Review: The...View profile
David Butcher (Australian, born 1941) is a veterinarian with particular interests in epidemiology, wildlife diseases, and biodiversity conservation. He...View profile
Bjørn Brunstad (Norwegian, born 1973) is a foresight specialist with twelve years of academic and practical experience with scenario planning,...View profile
Ugo Bardi (Italian, born 1952) teaches physical chemistry at the University of Florence, Italy. His interests cover the depletion...View profile
Iulie Aslaksen is senior researcher in the research department of Statistics Norway and works with sustainability indicators, the Nature...View profile
Dag Andersen (Norwegian, born 1947) is a political scientist, freelance advisor, lecturer, and author of The 5th Step: The...View profile
GLIMPSE AUTHORS – BIOGRAPHIES
Dag Andersen (Norwegian, born 1947) is a political scientist, freelance advisor, lecturer, and author of The 5th Step: The Way to a New Society (2007).
“Glimpse 11-1: The Fifth Cultural Step,” makes the important point that human culture will continue to evolve and that the next—the fifth—step might be far along by 2052. Read more
Iulie Aslaksen is senior researcher in the research department of Statistics Norway and works with sustainability indicators, the Nature Index, and policy for sustainable development.
Ugo Bardi (Italian, born 1952) teaches physical chemistry at the University of Florence, Italy. His interests cover the depletion of mineral resources and peak oil, nanotechnology, and robotics. He runs the Italian section of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and blogs on www.cassandralegacy.blogspot.com. His most recent book is The Limits to Growth Revisited.
The military will help keep borders closed. Real combat will increasingly be the task of robots and drones. “Glimpse 7-3: The Future of War and the Rise of Robots” describes this development. Read more
Bjørn Brunstad (Norwegian, born 1973) is a foresight specialist with twelve years of academic and practical experience with scenario planning, paradigm foresight, and other holistic and dynamic tools for strategy making and mobilization of collective action. Bjørn worked for 10 years in the consulting and research firm ECON, primarily with foresight methods and further development of these, work he continued for a while at the Center for Climate Strategy at Norwegian School of Management.
A fluent Russian speaker, he has done many projects on Russia, primarily the North, and has travelled extensively in Russia and neighbouring states, acknowledging how future developments there are crucial for world peace and sustainability in years to come. Bjørn is active in the Norwegian Greens and hopes to help the party introduce more holistic and long term policy in Norway, now as they have finally entered Parliament.
“Glimpse 10-2: China—the New Hegemon” gives a lively description of what will happen in the Middle Kingdom as it once more takes its former role as the supreme power on planet Earth. Read more
David Butcher (Australian, born 1941) is a veterinarian with particular interests in epidemiology, wildlife diseases, and biodiversity conservation. He is a former CEO of WWF Australia and Greening Australia (NSW) and now lives on an Illawarra property that is 30% subtropical rain forest.
The shift toward lower-quality proteins will also result from the limited supply of high-quality protein. “Glimpse 6-2: The Limits to Protein” provides more detail. Read more
Catherine Cameron (British and Guyanese, born 1963) was a member of the core team behind The Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change. She is now director of Agulhas: Applied Knowledge, helping companies and organizations respond to the additional challenges to sustainability posed by climate change. She is a visiting fellow at the Smith School of Environment & Enterprise at the University of Oxford.
She is also a Visiting Fellow at the Global Resource Observatory at Anglia Ruskin University, modelling the near term risks of resource constraints. She sits on a number of Boards and Advisory Boards including the Sustainable Aviation consortium, working to reduce carbon emissions from the UK aviation sector to 2005 levels by 2050 with an anticipated tripling in demand.
“Glimpse 8-1: Scotland Joins New Europe” presents a thought-provoking forecast of how a desire for local control may play out in Europe over the next forty years. Read more
Robert W. Corell
Robert W. Corell (American, born 1934), PhD, is an oceanographer and engineer who is actively engaged in research on global change and public policy. He formerly taught at universities in the United States and Norway and is now principal of the Global Environment and Technology Foundation in Arlington, Virginia.
“Glimpse 2-5: Extreme Weather in 2052” glimpse gives an overview of the damage that will result from insufficient action to cut human greenhouse gas emissions in time. Read more
Herman E. Daly
Herman E. Daly (American, born 1938) is professor emeritus in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and a former senior economist at the Environment Department of the World Bank. His books include Steady-State Economics (1972) and Ecological Economics and Sustainable Development (2007).
“Glimpse 4-1: The End of Uneconomic Growth” discusses the issue of continued economic growth on the planet, focusing on the composition of the growth. Read more
John Elkington (British, born 1949) is cofounder of Environmental Data Services (ENDS, 1978), SustainAbility (1987), and Volans (2008), where he is executive chairman. He has written seventeen books, sits on over twenty boards or advisory boards, and blogs at www.johnelkington.com/journal.
It would take a little longer than winning World War II but would be the thoroughly beneficial climate equivalent to the military response to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942. “Glimpse 7-4: Military for Sustainability” provides the detail. Read more
Per Arild Garnåsjordet
Per Arild Garnåsjordet (Norwegian, born 1945) is a geographer and senior researcher at Statistics Norway. From 1995–2006 he was managing director for Asplan Viak, a major consulting fim in urban and regional planning.
The future world will be a more urban world, with more urban values and more urban perspectives. Both physically and spiritually “Glimpse 7-1: Megacity Living and Externalization of the Mind” gives a feel for the situation. Read more
Paul Gilding (Australian, born 1959) is an independent writer and corporate advisor. He was previously executive director of Greenpeace International (1993) and CEO and owner of strategy consultancy Ecos Corporation (1995–2008) and energy-efficiency compay Easy Being Green (2005–7). He wrote The Great Disruption (2011) and blogs at www.paulgilding.com.
“Glimpse 9-1: Sudden Rush to Solar” describes the bumpy and delayed road toward adoption of one of the central elements of the solution—namely, the widespread use of solar power and heat. Read more
Thomas N. Gladwin
Thomas N. Gladwin (American, born 1948) is the Max McGraw Professor of Sustainable Enterprise and associate director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. His teaching, research, and consulting focus on system dynamics, global change, and sustainable business.
People will feel safer in the company of others, as described in “Glimpse 5-4: The Flight to the City.” Read more
Ulrich Golüke (born 1952 in Germany) studied systems dynamics with Dennis Meadows and has worked extensively with systems, scenarios and sustainability. In the 90ties he built up and ran the Scenario Unit of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. For the last 12 years he has worked as a freelancer with Fortune 100 companies, universities, foundations and students.
Stephan Harding (British, born 1953) holds a doctorate in behavioral ecology from the University of Oxford. He is currently head of the master’s in holistic science program at Schumacher College, Dartington, Devon, UK. He is author of Animate Earth: Science Intuition and Gaia, and the presenter of a documentary film of the same name.
Over the next forty years, temperature zones will move poleward at (very roughly) 5 kilometers a year, and up mountainsides at (very roughly) 5 meters per year. Consider what this will do to your pet forest, park, or garden. “Glimpse 6-5: Nature Limited to Parks” will get your emotions going. Read more
Lars Hem (Norwegian, born 1945), PhD, is an associate professor of clinical psychology, Department of Psychology, Aarhus University, and a specialist and supervisor in psychotherapy. He has written books on the theory of science, social psychology, dreams and REM sleep, and psychotherapy.
The future world will be a more urban world, with more urban values and more urban perspectives. Both physically and spiritually “Glimpse 7-1: Megacity Living and Externalization of the Mind” gives a feel for the situation. Read more
Paul Hohnen (Australian, 1950) is a consultant on sustainable development living in Europe. A former Australian diplomat, his career included periods as political director of Greenpeace International and strategic development director of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which he helped found.
Glimpse 2-3 “Shuffling toward Sustainability” describes in some detail the policy landscape over the next several decades. Read more.
Carlos Joly (Argentinian, born 1947) has lived and worked in Europe for twenty-five years. He is an investment manager who over the years has pioneered various approaches to integrating environmental issues in portfolio management. He is currently chair of the Climate Change Scientific Avisory Committee of Natixis Asset Management in France.
“Glimpse 2-1: The Dark Decades: Privilege and Polarization,” provides a colorful and useful perspective on what we are facing. Read more.
Alan Knight (British, born 1964) specializes in corporate sustainability and product-centric sustainability for big brands (e.g., Virgin, Kingfishe, B&Q, SABMiller) and public policy (in UK government think tanks on sustainability, eco-labeling, and consumption). See www.dralanknight.com.
Elisabeth Laville (French, born 1966) is one of Europe’s leading experts in sustainability strategies and corporate responsibility. She is the cofounder and chief entrepreneur of Utopies (1993) and Graines de Changement (2005).
“Glimpse 8-6: Harnessing the Wisdom of the Crowd” describes how collaborative innovation will affect product development in business. The pace of innovation will increase when innovators learn to harvest interactively from the incredible amount of information out there. Read more
Jonathan Loh (British, born 1963) is a zoologist specializing in the monitoring and conservation of biological and cultural diversity. He is an honorary research associate at the Zoological Society of London and consultant to WWF International.
The second and final perspective on the longer-term future, “Glimpse 11-2: The Third Flowering of the Tree of Life,” launches another provoking idea, namely, the rise of the self-programming robot: he who will look you in the eye in the same overbearing manner as you look into the empty eyes of your non-comprehending dog. Read more
Thorvald Moe (Norwegian, born 1939) has a PhD in economics from Stanford University. He worked for almost forty years in the Norwegian Ministry of Finance as director general, chief economist, and deputy permanent secretary. He has been Norwegian ambassador (1986–89) and deputy secretary general (1998–2002) to the OECD in Paris.
“Glimpse 4-2: Light Green Growth” describes how the OECD has looked at the cost to society of reducing climate gas emissions enough to keep temperature increase below plus 2°C. Read more
Erling Moxnes (Norwegian, born 1952) is a professor in system dynamics at the University of Bergen (Norway). He has a PhD from Dartmouth College (USA). He has published on resource management and economics with a focus on misperceptions of dynamics and on policy.
Biofuel production will create an upward pressure on food prices, and some unnecessary suffering among the poor—but higher food prices will also lead to higher food production. “Glimpse 6-1: Expensive Oil = Expensive Food” discusses this issue. Read more
Chandran Nair (Malaysian, born 1954) is the founder and CEO of the Global Institute for Tomorrow based in Hong Kong. He also heads Avantage Ventures, a social investments advisory firm in Hong Kong and Beijing. Formerly he was the Asia-Pacific chairman of ERM, growing the company over a decade to become the region’s largest environmental consulting firm.
Will humanity manage to limit its ecological footprint to fit within the carrying capacity of
the planet? “Glimpse 2-2: Constraining Asian Consumption” discusses this issue. Read more.
Terje Osmundsen (Norwegian, born 1957) is a former state secretary to the prime minister of Norway, with a varied career from international business (natural gas, engineering, telecom) to publishing and scenario-based consulting. Since 2009, he has been senior vice president of Scatec Solar AS, a leading developer and supplier of solar power plants.
The cost-reduction process in solar energy pertains to both solar power and solar heating. No fundamental technological barriers are yet in sight. The only obstacle is cost, which needs to come down to parity with coal or gas power. And this is happening, as explained in “Glimpse 5-1: The Road to PV.” Read more
Thymio Papayannis (Greek, born 1934) is an architect, planner and environmentalist. A successful professional architect and planner, he has dedicated most of his activities during the past 30 years to the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage and to environmental and sustainability issues.
He has been one of the two founders of WWF Greece (and its president from 1996 to 2004 and again from 2005-2006) and of the Society for the Protection of Prespa (and its president since 2004) and has contributed to the establishment of the Greek Biotope – Wetland Centre. He has also been a member of the Board of WWF International (for two terms) and the Tour du Valat Foundation in the Camargue (since the early 1990s). In 2009 WWF International named him Member of Honour.
Among his other activities are the establishment in 1992 and coordination of MedWet, a regional initiative of the Ramsar Convention, for which he was elected Honorary Member of the Mediterranean Wetlands Committee. He is also joint coordinator of the IUCN Delos initiative on sacred natural sites and of the Ramsar Culture Network, while directing Med-INA (the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos).
In 2010 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for his environmental work by the Athens Agricultural University.
He has also been deeply involved with the ecological work of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the integrated management of the Mt. Athos World Heritage Site.
In 2012 he was given the Ramsar Award in Recognition of Achievement.
He has written more than 250 articles, book chapters and books on architecture and planning, nature conservation and the environment, as well as on sustainability.
“Glimpse 8-2: The End of Mediterranean Disparity” shows how the warming of the Mediterranean may actually work to create a new regional unity around that inland sea. The dominant culture in that future region may end up resembling that of hot North Africa rather than that of balmy southern Europe. Read more
Edgar Pieterse (South Africa, born 1968) is holder of the NRF South African Research Chair in urban policy. He directs the African Centre for Cities and is professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, both at the University of Cape Town. In 2008 he wrote City Futures: Confronting the Crisis of Urban Development.
“Glimpse 8-3: Slum Urbanism in Africa” provides a fascinating example; namely, the anticipation that the slum dwellers of Africa, with no hope of help (read: economic development) from outside their township, will ultimately succeed in their own internally driven process of betterment. Read more
Jørgen Randers (born 1945) is Norwegian and a professor of climate strategy at BI Norwegian Business School. He has divided his long professional career evenly among the research, NGO, and corporate worlds, always with a focus on sustainable development. He coauthored The Limits to Growth in 1972.
Rasmus Reinvang (Danish, born 1970) has a PhD in Cultural Studies from the University of Oslo (Norway), and has worked with environment and sustainable development policy in Scandinavia, the EU, China and India for fifteen years. He is currently partner at the social science consultancy Vista Analyse in Oslo, Norway. Rasmus has previously worked for the international engineering and consultancy company Pöyry, the environmental organization WWF in China and Norway, and taught at Copenhagen University (Denmark) and the University of Gdansk (Poland). He is especially interested in issues of sustainable development including environmental and climate policies, urban development, corporate social responsibility, future studies, development, the rise of China and India, and also Buddhism. Rasmus lives in Oslo, where he is also engaged in municipal politics.
“Glimpse 10-2: China—the New Hegemon” gives a lively description of what will happen in the Middle Kingdom as it once more takes its former role as the supreme power on planet Earth. Read more
Nick Robins (British, born 1963) is a sustainable investor and business historian. He has worked on the policy, business, and financial dimensions o sustainable development for the past twenty years and is author of The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational and coeditor of Sustainable Investing: The Art of Long-Term Performance.
Sarah Severn (British, born 1956) has spent the last seventeen years at Nike working on sustainability in numerous roles, now as director of Stakeholder Mobilization, Sustainable Business and Innovation. For twelve years she has led Nike’s efforts in climate change and is now working on activating system-level innovation, based in Beaverton, Oregon.
“Glimpse 8-7: Peak Youth Gaming for the Public Good” moves one step ahead and points to the likely positive impact on collaborative behavior from extensive experience in web-based gaming. Read more
Harald Siem (Norwegian, born 1941) is a medical doctor with a master’s in public health, trained in Basel, Oxford, Oslo, and Harvard. He has worked as a district medical officer then atthe University of Oslo, and for the Oslo city health administration, International Organization for Migration, and WHO in Geneva, and now works in the Norwegian Directorate of Health.
In 2052 the medical profession will be capable of doing far more than people will be able to pay for. “Glimpse 7-2: Individual Health from Public Care” provides a more detailed picture. Read more
Chris Tuppen (British, born 1954) has been involved in sustainability for over twenty years. He runs Advancing Sustainability LLP and is an honorary professor at Keele University. He was previously BT’s chief sustainability office.
Used products and landfills will increasingly be used as sources for new material, as will effluents collected at the end of pipes. This will reduce the need for new mines, and “Glimpse 6-4: Urban Mining of Metals” makes the additional point that consequently few things are likely to run out. Read more
Wayne Visser (South African, born 1970) is an author, poet, social entrepreneur, speaker, researcher, and lecturer in sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and purpose-inspired business. He is founder and director of the think tank CSR International and a part-time academic at the University of Cambridge.
It will become a normal obligation of the large corporation not only to report along commonly agreed principles on its financial progress, but to do the same concerning its environmental and social impacts. “Glimpse 8-5: Systemic CSR, or CSR 2.0” provides more detail. Read more
Mathis Wackernagel (Swiss, born 1962) is cocreator of the ecological footprint concept and president of Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank, with officesin Oakland, California; Geneva, Switzerland; and Brussels, Belgium.
When it finally starts to dawn on people and politicians that the world is in planetary overshoot and headed for trouble, there will begin a race to secure one’s own future interests. “Glimpse 6-3: The Race to Lose Last” explores this aspect of the future. Read more
Karl Wagner (Austrian, born 1952), biologist by education and environmental campaigner by training, has spent thirty years running environmental campaigns, nationally and globally, mostly for the World Wildlife Fund. He currently works for the Club of Rome.
Glimpse 2-4 “Intergenerational War for Equity” predicts that the era of intergenerational harmony will come to an end. Read more
Peter Willis (South African, born 1954) is the South African director of the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership and regional chairman of the Prince of Wales’s Business & Sustainability Programme. After a history degree from Oxford he worked in government and started various enterprises before emigrating to South Africa in 1993.
The narrow focus on material gain for the individual in the short term will be replaced by a wider perspective, as explained in “Glimpse 8-4: Valuing the Whole.” Read more