The world at the ultimate crossroads: Climate change, environmental impacts, population and natural resources sufficiency in the long perspective with integrated models

Introduction and background

In the last decade, many have come to the conclusion that the world has reached and transgressed the confines of the planetary capacities and boundaries, resulting in the realization that humanity' may one day become limited by declining availability of food, energy and natural resources (Bardi 2013; Rockstrom et al. 2009, 2017; Heinberg 2011; Monbiot 2015; Sverdrup and Ragnarsdottir 2014). In addition, it has become clear that human civilization is creating pollution on such a big scale that the environment of the entire globe is affected in a substantial way.

We have gone to many meetings on sustainability' over the past four decades, and in every meeting many' researchers hold elaborate and compassionate talks on how everything is linked and connected. And then we all go home, and meet again the year after, and the same thing happens again, many hold elaborate and compassionate talks on how everything is linked and connected. And nothing happens to connect the aspects they talked so much about. No one connects anything for real in their models, nor in their work. They just talk about it. Again and again. One day we decided we would do those connections, for real, not just talk like everyone else seems to be doing, but actually make a model where everything was connected.

Scope and objectives

The scope and objective of this report

Each of the challenges may appear alone as to be overpowering. When the gridlock of impending natural resources exhaustion, population growth, energy transitions, continued pollution, increasing climate change, escalating environmental impacts, social challenges, the decay' of governance and unstable economy, all come together, it is the largest challenge of all times. It truly calls for extraordinary thinking and truly transformative actions. We were not the first to take up the challenge of an all-connecting model. Forrester (1961, 1969, 1971) and the Meadows team (Meadows et al. 1972, 1974) had been there before. They had laid a solid foundation but met ver}' hard challenges, one being that computers at the time were not really up to the task, as well as suffering large scale political attacks.

The purpose of the WORLD7 model

The purpose of the WORLD7 model is to assess the overall sustainability of the global civilisation and use the model for policy development in single countries and regions; Germany, Sweden. Europe. In our times, the sustainability of our societies has become challenged from a number of factors:

  • • Global climate change has been in progress for a long time, and now the effects are becoming visible to the layman and politician alike. The effects have substantial economic and social impacts.
  • • The global population has grown to levels where crowdedness and high density creates a tougher society with less margin for any type of error. Industrial and urban impacts in all aspects are substantial and global in scale. In times of economic and social stress, more extreme political forces have appeared on the arena in larger numbers than seen before, and many democracies are facing serious challenges.
  • • A longer period of peace and prosperity have created a growth in global wealth, but a relaxed policy towards wealth redistribution, that have allowed economical differences to grow enough in many regions to increase social tensions.

All of the issues listed above are causally linked in an intricate system, where policy becomes increasingly more difficult to develop and implement. We are in a period which will experience natural resource scarcity on a large scale across all resources, challenging economies and societies. Exhaustion does not necessarily imply that there are no resources available, but they will be harder and harder to get out of the ground, present in lower and lower quality in the materials we lift up, causing more pollution and demanding more work efforts per unit gained.


< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >