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2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years Paperback – June 13, 2012
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In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Limits to Growth (CH, Nov'73), Randers (climate strategy, BI Norwegian Business School) forecasts changes in population, consumption, energy use, emissions, quality of life, and climate over the next 40 years. As one of the original contributors to Limits to Growth, the author's current forecast is based on the ‘overshoot and collapse’ scenario. Regional scenarios highlight the distribution of benefits and costs from climate change across the globe, underscoring the distinct consequences on the developed and developing world. The author emphasizes that shortsighted decision making associated with democracy is ill suited to handle climate change, given its long-term outcomes. A novel feature of this work is the inclusion of predictions from more than two dozen experts working in ecology, political science, industry, and economics. These individual contributions are woven into the larger story to provide comparison with the author's predictions. Overall, this work is accessible to a general audience; however, Randers's limited analysis and justification of model assumption restrict the usefulness of this book as a stand-alone text. It could be useful in conjunction with some formal texts on globalization, economics, and the environment. Summing Up: Optional. General readers and undergraduate students.
Randers has made it his life's work to caution the world about the dangers of unfettered expansion, and to seek out solutions to current and prospective problems. Beginning with The Limits to Growth in 1972, he has explored possible scenarios for our social, economic, and environmental future. In this global study, Randers presents a forecast for the next 40 years, supported by ‘statistical data, anecdotal stories, impressions from traveling the world…formal analyses of particular developments,’ and short essays by a variety of experts. While he discusses his own opinions―such as his belief that the world economy must shift its focus from ‘fossil-fuelled economic growth’ to ‘sustainable well-being’ ― the enormous amount of information and speculation here function additionally as an excellent springboard for a timely discourse. And open and informed conversation seems crucial to Randers's project―indeed, he posits that unchecked climate change is not a technological problem, but a political one. Randers and his colleagues present a portrait of the future that is radically different from today, but not entirely bleak: while he believes that the worst of his predictions are possible, he humbly asks his readers to ‘help make my forecast wrong.’
"This thoughtful and thought-provoking book will be inspiring, and challenging, for all who really care about our common future."--Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway; leader, World Commission on Environment and Development
"A sober, cogent, and courageous assessment of a future not dictated by fate, or economics, or limits to technology, but by the most egregious leadership failure in history. But there is still time to change course...just enough time and no more."--David W. Orr, Oberlin College, author of Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse
"Read 2052 and get the views of a great futurist-one with a fine track record of being right."--Paul R. Ehrlich, author of The Dominant Animal
"This is an extraordinary and profoundly important book. Randers' mastery of many fields is impressive, and he presents his 'best guess' future with clarity and force. As a result, he provides a challenging template against which we can judge our own expectations for mid-century."--James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible
"An unconventional and lucid explanation of the likely macroeconomic developments of the world over the next forty years."--Lord Nicholas Stern, author, The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change; chair, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics
"With clarity, conscience, and courage, global-systems pioneer Jorgen Randers and his distinguished contributors map the forces that will shape the next four decades. Their sobering but far from despairing insights will encourage all who strive in applied hope to build a society worthy of nature's legacy and humans' potential."--Amory B. Lovins, chairman and chief scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute; senior author, Reinventing Fire; coauthor, Natural Capitalism
"It's too late to wonder how different and refreshingly breathable the world would be if everyone had listened hard to Jorgen Randers 40 years ago. The question now is if we'll heed him this time. Here's our chance. Please seize it, everyone."--Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us and Gaviotas
Top customer reviews
Fundamental to Randers forecast is the number of people that the world will have in 2052. The old news is that in 1987 we reached 5 billion people, the number of people that our globe could reasonably sustain at a “Western level” without being depleted of resources, functional ecosystems, other species, etc. Today we are at 7.1 billion people, a number that is 140% the carrying capacity of our planet and consequently there is simply not enough earth, atmosphere, and water resources to sustain this number of people at the level that the prosperous countries currently enjoy. Randers projects that the world’s human population will reach some 8 billion people by 2040 and then begin a gradual decline. (This forecast relatively speaking is optimistic, since other projections for 2040 are more typically 9 billion people, with accordingly more dire consequences for humanity, the ecosystem, and the planet). He attributes this leveling in 2040 and subsequent decline to the increasing urbanization of the human population. With urbanization people will become more educated: Consequently they will understand birth control, have fewer children (not needed for the farm), and perhaps even gain some appreciation of societal and planetary limitations. My problem with this line of reasoning is there was no footnote indicating the study or the data that demonstrated that urbanization leads to better education, to fewer children, to better decision making. I would concede that urbanization leading to fewer children has “some” intuitive appeal but I would like to see the data. To paraphrase Carl Sagan: Great claims require great evidence.
In conclusion, I definitely recommend this book and very much commend “2052” for its scope, the questions it raises, and its thinking. I have lowered my rating from 5 stars to 4 stars because of the near total absence of footnotes. To be honest I am a person who typically ignores footnotes, however, in this book, on this topic, they would have been greatly appreciated.