2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years
Book Review by Mark Mortimer, 2020 March.
Can you plan for the future of humankind but make the plan big time? It’s not a simple list of groceries for next week’s meals. Nor is it a project management plan for a city’s 20 year transit strategy. Here, big time means humankind’s decadal direction such as put forward by Jorgen Randers in his book “2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years”. This book shows a future, though not a plan. The book is high level, it’s referenced, and it’s got a prognosis that’s not pretty. And it is a valuable resource as so few books seem to consider this big time question.
This book speaks of macroeconomics, a field that wants to understand the big picture. And with the understanding, the book makes suggestions. First off, it addresses the obvious question, ”why write this book?” While this is a simple question, it gets answered throughout the book in a way that indicates the authour doesn’t really have a succinct reason. Or he knows only to well; he wants a future that’s better than what indicators predict. The designation of indicators and their changes out to 2052 take up the next big portion of the book. For the most part, the indicators are routine; population, consumption, energy, food, and pollution. These are routine as they were well established in an earlier book, The Limits to Growth to which Randers contributed. As well the changes are routine as humankind hasn’t really made any significant differences in our activities. That is, growth is continuing while the resource base is getting consumed. The last portion of the book addresses this continuance through the presentation of graphs. First, for the presentation, it divides the world into five groups of nations. Then the graphs show the change in the value of the indicators over eighty years from 1970 to 2050. The book closes with a reflection on the overall prognosis. That is, humankind is in overshoot already, is making things worse, and eventually will need undergo a correction. Overall, it’s hardcore macroeconomics based upon real values and standard analytical tools.
A reader can get benefit from this book in a couple of ways. If you want to assess the future using your own point of view then this book provides a great method and enough references for you to be able to make an excellent contribution. If you want to know what to expect over the next few decades so as to make plans for investment, business, or districts, this book gives you parameters and values. Last, if you want to know what to do to optimize the success of your offspring and genetic material then the chapter giving twenty pieces of personal advice is apropos. But for any of these, don’t expect excitement or drama. This book is straightforward, detailed analysis; boring but thorough.
A book on macroeconomics should be straightforward and detailed. It should be based on accepted data and principles. It should provide analysis to guide the reader. Jorgen Randers does all this with his book “2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years”. While the results are not pleasant and can be argued, they remain a stark announcement, or re-announcement, that humankind is moving toward a difficult future. And it leaves with the reader the question, “Can we enact a plan to better this?”
by Mark Mortimer, 2020