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Scientists Used A Computer To Predict Exactly When Society Would Collapse

Claire Reid

| Last updated 

Scientists Used A Computer To Predict Exactly When Society Would Collapse

Back in the 1970s, scientists used computer modelling to predict when the fall of society would kick off and according to their findings, you might not want to make any long-term plans. 

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) looked at data patterns from a variety of different factors, such as population, natural resources and energy usage to find out when we’d experience full societal collapse. 

The prediction made by the researchers was that this fall of society would hit near the midpoint of the 21st century - 2040, to be exact. Wonderful - at least I can stop worrying about whether I'll be able to save enough to buy my own place one day. 

Scientists from MIT compiled data from several metrics. Credit: NBC
Scientists from MIT compiled data from several metrics. Credit: NBC

The team’s study, which was published by Club of Rome, identified upcoming ‘limits to growth’ that would cause the industrial collapse. 

However, at the time the report wasn’t taken too seriously and did attract some ridicule, the Guardian reports

But, before you start to feel smug - and set up that Lifetime ISA - in 2009, a different team of researchers did a similar study, which was published by American Scientist, and concluded that the model’s results were ‘almost exactly on course some 35 years later in 2008 (with a few appropriate assumptions)... it is important to recognise that its predictions have not been invalidated and in fact seem quite on target. We are not aware of any model made by economists that is as accurate over such a long time span’.

Further to this, just last year, Dutch sustainability researcher Gaya Herrington, also affirmed the somewhat bleak predictions made in the study. 

Speaking to the Guardian, Herrington, who works at multinational accounting firm KPMG, said: “From a research perspective, I felt a data check of a decades-old model against empirical observations would be an interesting exercise.”

And her findings were about as grim as you can imagine, according to Herrington.

Current data aligns with the predictions made back in 1972 that had a worse case scenario of economic growth coming to halt at the end of this decade and collapse around 10 years later. 

But before you decide to pack it all in, Herrington did have a bit of optimistic news. 

She told the Guardian: “The key finding of my study is that we still have a choice to align with a scenario that does not end in collapse.

"With innovation in business, along with new developments by governments and civil society, continuing to update the model provides another perspective on the challenges and opportunities we have to create a more sustainable world.”

Maybe take a look at that ISA afterall. 

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Topics: Science, World News

Claire Reid
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