Engendering 2052 through Re-imagining the Present

IN FOCUS, 21 May 2012

Anthony Judge – TRANSCEND Media Service

Review of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years As Presented To the Club of Rome


Although this could be considered a “review” in the conventional sense, it is primarily concerned with what one might do about it — notably in the light of the initial comments to be made, which are highly critical. These are based on the initial presentation at the book launch to a joint gathering of the Club of Rome and the World Wildlife Fund (Rotterdam, May 2012), together with the focus of the associated press release.  This criticism is followed by an experimental exploration of how it might be possible to engage with the implications of the report as a metaphorical template — notably in the light of an examination of the book itself, which included dimensions totally absent from the brief launch presentation.

The author of the report, Jørgen Randers of the BI Norwegian Business School, indicates his involvement with the original Limits to Growth (1972) report to the Club of Rome, of which this is partly conceived to be a form of update. That report has had a most turbulent reception, as usefully documented by  Graham Turner (A Comparison of the Limits to Growth with Thirty Years of Reality, 2007), and by those directly involved in earlier updates (Dennis Meadows, Donella Meadows and Jørgen Randers, Limits to Growth: the 30-Year update, 2004; Dennis Meadows, Donella Meadows and Jørgen Randers, Beyond the Limits: confronting global collapse, envisioning a sustainable future, 1993). The forecast is seen as an elaboration on one of the earlier overshoot-and-decline scenarios.

As an indication of bias, this “review” is written by someone who was appalled by the limited focus of the 1972 report — especially its narrow selection of 5 core issues worthy of attention — in the original systemic study of “world dynamics” on which it was based (Jay Forrester, World Dynamics, 1971). This concern was articulated in two documents (World Dynamics and Psychodynamic: a step towards making abstract “world system” dynamic limitations meaningful to the individual, 1971; Quo Vadis UNO? a review of some of the issues raised by the Club of Rome study of World Dynamics, 1971). That concern resulted in a project, launched in 1972, to produce an Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (1976), which after three editions, continues to be available online. This has profiled thousands of issues with which international constituencies are preoccupied, together with the strategies they advocate in consequence. The degree of relationship of that initiative with the preoccupations of the Club of Rome is indicated separately (Club of Rome Reports and Bifurcations a 40-year overview, 2010).

The new report was launched just weeks after that of The Royal Society, entitled People and the Planet (2012), reviewed separately (Scientific Gerrymandering of Boundaries of Overpopulation Debate, 2012). Although concerned with the same period and the need for similar strategic responses, the reports do not acknowledge each other’s existence. The former was the work of an eminent group, the latter of an eminent individual variously advised by a group.



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 May 2012.

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