We live in a time between worlds. Fifty years ago, the Limits To Growth report was published. It was based on the first computer model of the world, created by complexity and systems scientists and financed by the Club of Rome.
Several scenarios were run on the model - world3 - to establish insights into possible trajectories of humanity in the 21st century.
Three of the twelve scenarios were compared to empirical data in a 2020 study at Harvard by Gaya Herrington. In the resulting article she describes that the scenario called BAU2 tracks very closely with the empirical data, followed by the CT and SW scenarios.
BAU2 stands for "Business As Usual" with the fossil resources doubled in comparison to the original 1972 report. This correction became necessary in the update of the report published in 1994. CT stands for "Comprehensive Technology" and lays out the trajectory of a world of high collaboration around and towards innovation while SW stands for "Stabilised World", a scenario in which humanity shifts priorities from financial profit and GDP growth to maximising health and education.
The BAU2 scenario predicts a peak in global population around 2030-40 at around 8 billion with a subsequent decline to three billion people, effectively stating a rough estimate of four billion casualties in the second half of the century. In the CT and SW scenarios, the population curve flattens around 2030-40 and then stays stable at eight billion humans.
Neither SW nor CT are easy or straightforward to achieve. But not to participate in its realisation can be seen as complicity in a genocide of unfathomable proportions.
The enormous success of BAU2 rests on the discovery of a fully charged "Earth Battery". One barrel of crude oil contains the energy equivalent to five years of human labour. At the current levels of economic activity on the planet, this roughly translates into a population of 500 billion people providing economic services - or said differently - 60 slaves per human on average.
A successful shift to CT requires similar amounts of energy without the negative externalities of fossil fuels. This is physically not achievable with current technology. Therefore it is paramount to focus on localised energy harvesting and storage, built with local materials by anyone who needs energy and without negative externalities. This is the most important innovation moonshot humanity has to solve.
A successful shift to SW requires a fundamental shift in the incentive structure of human societies on all levels away from financial profits and towards maximising wellbeing.
These two components in tandem create the powerful mechanism our species so dearly needs in order to survive. It is time to act and make this a reality. It is time to log out of BAU2 physically, emotionally and intellectually and to start living the way we would live in a world worth loving.
February 2022, The Pirate Partners