Nafeez Ahmed on Limits to Growth

20 06 2015

Ahmed Nafeez

Since getting the bullet from The Guardian, Nafeez Ahmed has been busy developing his great independent media website where he can publish anything he likes, no matter how much the mainstream might disagree with him!  His latest offering on LtG confirms everything previously published, but better computing power and modelling knowledge is constantly improving forecasts, to such an extent, not even the UK government can ignore it.  They even funded some of the research…..


GRO’s System Dynamics Model takes a different approach, building on the ‘World3’ model developed by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which famously forecast that humankind faced impending “limits to growth” due to environmental and resource constraints.

In popular consciousness, the ‘limits to growth’ forecasts were wrong. But recent studies, including one by the Australian government’s scientific research agency CSIRO, confirm that most of its predictions were startlingly prescient.

Dr. Jones and his team at Anglia Ruskin University have taken this confirmation several steps further, not only by testing the model against the real world, but by recalibrating it internally using new and updated data.

“World3 was a very good, robust system,” he told us. “Some assumptions were incorrect and misparameterised — for instance, life expectancy is smaller than assumed, and industrial and service outputs are larger than assumed. And the model was missing some shock dynamics and feedback loops.”

The same questioner put his hand up and asked, “Does this mean the original model and its predictions are flawed?”

“I would say the model was largely correct,” said Jones. “It was right enough to give a fairly accurate picture of future limits to growth. But there are some incorrect parameters and gaps.”

The System Dynamics Model, Jones explained, is designed to overcome the limitations of World3 by recalibrating the incorrect parameters, adding new parameters where necessary, and inputting fresh data. There are now roughly 2,000 parameters in the model, drawing on a database of key indicators on resources and social measures for 212 countries, from 1995 until today.

Jones’ affirmation of the general accuracy of the limits to growth model was an obvious surprise to some in the room.

The original model forecasted global ecological and economic collapse by around the middle of the 21st century, due to the convergence of climate change, food and water scarcity, and the depletion of cheap fossil fuels — which chimes with both the GRO’s models.

Last year, Dr. Graham Turner updated his CSIRO research at the University of Melbourne, concluding that:

“… the general onset of collapse first appears at about 2015 when per capita industrial output begins a sharp decline. Given this imminent timing, a further issue this paper raises is whether the current economic difficulties of the global financial crisis are potentially related to mechanisms of breakdown in the Limits to Growth BAU [business-as-usual] scenario.”

For the first time, then, we know that in private, British and US government agencies are taking seriously longstanding scientific data showing that a business-as-usual trajectory will likely lead to civilisational collapse within a few decades — generating multiple near-term global disruptions along the way.

The question that remains is: what we are going to do about it?

The answers, of course, exist…  but whenever I air them – or at least the answers as I believe them to exist – nobody likes them.



3 responses

20 06 2015

some more pieces of evidence that prove that collapse is in progress now.

20 06 2015

The answers exist ? – in my limited experience its pretty much impossible to even discuss or raise the most basic questions, yet alone start talking about answers, if indeed any might exist that are within our capability to implement. From the small number of cautious attempts I have made it would seem that denial is not limited to any specific age or social group,it is applicable everywhere one looks. It seems to be that letting go of the notion that things will always be ok is somehow blocked out of the mind, or curiously, simply of absolutely no interest whatsoever. At times responses are quite hostile, conversation unwelcome or received with an indulgent sigh.Probably stating the obvious, because I assume that those who correspond here represent the tiny group that is at least prepared to at least risk a small peep at reality?

21 06 2015

The problem for me is that small group you talk about, while connected on the internet, is separated by distance in the physical world by too much distance.

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