How A Computer In 1973 Predicted The End Of Civilisation

We’re not fans of doomsday stories they seem to be abundant at the moment and are generally heavily sensationalised.  But one, in particular, seems to have awakened quite a bit of attention from the scientific community as of late.

A long-forgotten piece of computer software was recently discovered created in 1973 by the labs of MIT. It was used to predict trends in human sustainability but what the piece of software unintentionally ended up doing was predict that by 2040 we would be witnessing the end of civilisation itself.

The computer model called “Limits to Growth” (which was eventually turned into a bestselling book) was led by pioneering researcher Jay Forrester who at the time was part of a group called World One, they had been commissioned by the well-known thought leadership group Club of Rome to create this program.

The Club of Rome for those of you unaware is an organisation which includes dignitaries and heads of state from around the world, past members include Mikhail Gorbachev and Václav Havel,  its mission to “promote understanding of the global challenges facing humanity and to propose solutions through scientific analysis, communication, and advocacy.”

The computer’s role was to look into the current projected trends around pollution, natural resources consumption and population growth and see what anomalies would occur. What World One showed through its predictive modelling was that if current trends continue as they are that there would be a global collapse by 2040. Forrester was among the first to truly understand that the common root of the problems facing our planet is unfettered growth in the human ecological footprint.

In fact, it said at the time that by 2020 things like pollution will become so critical a mass die-off will occur putting population levels back to that of around 1900, going on to say that national borders will start to recede and have less influence and importance than it once did.

Alexander King, the then-leader of the Club of Rome said of this, “There is a gradual diminishing of sovereignty, little bit by little bit. Even in the big nations, this will happen.”

The program worked by calculating and incorporating past trends that included statistics and forecasts for variables such as population, quality of life, the supply of natural resources, pollution, and more.

When the Limits of Growth computer model created by Jay Forrester it received enormous criticism its influence waned over the subsequent decades, although in recent times, economists and environmentalists have praised its accuracy. This from influential energy economist Matthew Simmons in 2000, “The Club of Rome turned out to be right. We simply wasted 30 important years ignoring this work.”

Is there an antidote?

The Club of Rome at the time said America would have to desperately cut back on its appetite for natural resources and that low consumption trends would need to continue in order to stave off mass devastation. Judge for yourself and let us know what you think.