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2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years Hardcover – 13 Jun 2012

3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Company (13 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603584676
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603584678
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,554,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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

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 and leader of World Commission on Environment and Development

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 and leader of World Commission on Environment and Development

About the Author

Jorgen Randers is professor of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, where he works on climate issues and scenario analysis. He was previously president of BI and deputy director general of WWF International in Switzerland.


Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I received this book with high hopes. The author is professor or climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School. He co-authored, as a young man, the seminal work 'Limits to Growth' and its 1992 and 2004 updates, and is a regular speaker on sustainability-related issues on the international circuit.

On the back of the book, the blurb states that "we know what want the world to be like in forty years. But what do we know about what the world will actually be like? This is the question Jorgen Randers tries to answer..."

Yet somewhere along the way, this book has failed to deliver.

Randers offers us a world with a population peaking at about nine billion, requiring global food output at least thirty percent higher than today but produced from roughly the same area of agricultural land. The increased yields, apparently envisaged as coming from genetically-modified crops, do not seem credible given the very limited achievements in the biotech sector to date. Indeed, it might be argued that the proliferation of GM crops and the increasing dominance of world food production by a handful of multinational companies actually threatens future food security.

A more likely scenario is that global food output will fall in response to reduced fertiliser inputs, unavoidable climate changes, and increasing soil degradation.

Energy use and consumption of material goods are projected by Randers to be forty percent higher than current levels in 2052. Gross world product is predicted to double, thereby requiring a substantive decoupling of energy and GDP, something the available evidence suggests is highly unlikely. Randers labels the non-energy-related component of GDP as 'investment'.
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Format: Paperback
In our fast changing world it's a brave man that makes predictions as far ahead as 2052. But Jorgen Randers is an old hand at this; He was one of the authors of the famous book Limits to Growth in 1972. Based on an early computer model, the book suggested that if the trends up to 1972 were to "continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next 100 years", with a resulting "sudden and rather uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity". Forty years on, and aided by an updated computer model, Jorgen Randers revisits these predictions in his new book, 2052.

His new book is a worthwhile - albeit dense - read, although Randers' pessimism about humankinds' likelihood of rising to meet the challenges ahead is at times uncomfortable. He warns about undue optimism stating "to this day, six billion people are being misled into believing that there are no natural constraints and they can have it all because human ingenuity will come to the rescue." Instead he says "I believe the world will be sufficiently stupid to postpone meaningful action."

Randers' modelling suggests that world population will peak at around 8 billion in 2040, before returning to current levels by 2075. He suggests that global GDP growth will continue, but only slowly, so that the global economy will be twice as big in 2052 as it is now. In mature economies with shrinking populations - such as much of Western Europe - he foresees negative growth. But this global doubling of growth will put further strain on the planet he says, even taking into account improved efficiencies. As a result he predicts that disaster and adaptation costs will explode in coming decades.
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Jorgen Randers is one of the authors of the 1972 Limits to Growth (LtG) report and this book marks the 40th anniversary of its publication. After a 20-year and a 30-year update of the report written by the original collective, this is a very personal update of what the world's limits to growth imply for the decades ahead. It is Randers' best guess as what might happen over the next forty years. He has produced a very readable book, spiced by 2-4 page long "glimpses" of the future by guest authors.
At the outset, Randers reminds his readers that the aim of LtG was to signal the importance of foresighted action on environmental matter. Only so can the world hope to avoid ecological "overshoot", i.e. using more ecological services than the planet can sustainably provide. Nowadays this is measured in terms of the "ecological footprint". When LtG was published it was close to 1 earth (i.e. borderline sustainable); now it stands at 1.5 (overshoot), and business as usual (BaU) will get us to 3 by 2050. In overshoot, the world draws down natural capital year by year and the situation is literally unsustainable, and just two options exist going forward: "managed decline" towards a footprint that fits the earth, or "uncontrolled collapse induced by nature."
Randers, describing himself as a lifelong worrier, has thus seen his and his co-authors' warnings go unheeded for the past forty years. As a consequence, and prior to writing 2052, he was convinced that humanity was heading for collapse. But in making his forecast he says he became less pessimistic. To the uninitiated the book will be a depressing read - but one could say it's about time they did catch up with reality!
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