Global Collapse: Probabilities, Factors, and Timetables, Part 1. Was MIT right?

Part One of the three-part series is on past and current timeline predictions for a global collapse process. Intelligent individuals will use the three reports for critical personal and business planning.


Part One starts with the prestigious Club of Rome reports of the 1960s and 1970s. MIT and many prestigious worldwide scientists were involved in creating these two initial reports. 

The history of what happened to these two reports is telling and chilling. Our organization's particular interest is that these reports were created with little information about climate change.

Part two of this series on global collapse will be a new update on the Club of Rome's predictions. Part three of this series will cover what happens to the Club or Rome's most updated timeline and consequence predictions when you include calculations for current climate data.

Please note that a global collapse process can be caused by a combination of ecological, economic, political, and climate factors.

Part One below was written by Bruce Nappi, a long-time Job One volunteer and a former Sandia National Lab, and U. California Lawrence Livermore National Lab scientist.

The first and second club of Rome reports  and their global collapse timelines

By the mid 60s, it was already clear to some industry leaders that humans had created serious problems. These were not so much climate problems as they were natural resource problems. In 1968, a small group of leaders of large European industrial firms were concerned because of alarming internal corporate reports. The reports warned that their production output would soon be limited due to shortages of natural resources.

In 1970, these leaders, who informally called themselves the Club of Rome, because they frequently met at the Academy dei Lincei in Rome, brought together a group of economists and social scientists to look at the problems on a world scale. The initial discussion concluded such a study would not be feasible. There was, however, an unusual guest at the meetings: Dr. Jay Forester from MIT. He proposed that he could get a first estimate of the results they were looking for by developing a computer model based on new work he was doing. The system model would estimate the future progres­sion of worldwide natural resources and economic trends based on a wide range of assumptions that the economists would provide.

With funding from the participants, primarily Volkswagen, the study was completed in two years. The outcome was profound and startling! The model projections were devastating for humanity. Furthermore, they were expected to occur soon, not far off in the future. The study results were published in the 1972 book Limits to Growth. (1-1) The book stated, unless all of human society quickly, aggressively, and simultaneously addressed population control, resource conservation, and pollution management, major collapses would occur drastically affecting human society beginning around the middle of the 21st century.

The study team, led by Donella and Dennis Meadows at MIT, anticipated they would get many challenges to their findings. There were too many powerful, wealthy, but selfish people in the world who would attack the report to defend their wealth. To defend the report, the MIT team had to plan for attacks like those used to defend the abuses of the  tobacco and asbestos industries, which claimed the report data was incomplete and inaccurate.

The report team came up with a novel creative strategy. For some of their models, they would not use currently estimated world-wide data, but would use greatly exaggerated quantities for available resources which could not be dismissed. To take that approach one step further, they even assumed that some natural resources would have no limits.

For example, for some model runs, the study didn’t assume that society would run out of coal, oil or natural gas. They didn’t try to figure out if new crops could be found to feed the hungry. In those models, they assumed that, somehow, technology would provide solutions to produce 2 or 3 times the highest levels of carbon fuels and food that could ever be expected.

Again, they were stunned by the results! Even using those extreme assumptions, each outcome eventually ended in a collapse of society from some limiting side effects. No matter what level of each variable was used, due to their interactions, society as we know it would crash sometime in the mid to late twenty first century – only about 80 years from the study.

In another example, for the population-focused model, a trial analysis was made where the level of anticipated food production was very high. From previous analyses of the causes of pollution, the program calculated the amount of pollution that would be generated producing the extra food. To counter the additional pollution, a greatly exaggerated solution was also assumed that some new technology would decrease pollution by a factor of 4. The result was still a massive population die-off due to pollution for the following reasons. The large increase in food initially resulted in a large increase in people. They in turn produced more food and more people. Industrial produc­tion rapidly increased (which would make everyone on Wall Street happy) until a growing world pollution crisis occurred around 2010, melting the polar ice caps and changing the weather. That caused a fast major sea level rise that devastated the food supply and led to mass starvations. (This scenario is ironically playing out today.)

In another variation, they assumed technology could achieve perfect birth control by 1975. That, alone, would surely reduce the population growth rate. But improved farming technology would also force people to move into cities, become wealthier and become mass consumers. They would eat more food. The entire world soci­ety would also eat more, quickly over running food pro­duction. In this simulation, the city population kept growing and production of consumer products kept growing. Eventually carbon pollu­tion got so high that society had to shift to renewable bio-fuels. By the time that happened, the food supply was wiped out because pollution still caused the crops to fail. In that model, the population still collapsed, around 2040.

Continually being startled by each new result, every combination of variables was tried. This included things like: letting land yield double; allowing every remote resource to be mined; making birth control perfect; switching to all nuclear power to cut air pollution; assuming that 75% of goods were recycled, etc. And yes, the analysis even tried using all of these improvements simul- taneously! Even in those idealized cases, by 2070, the earth’s key natural resources were depleted, food crashed, pollution went high and the population crashed.

In short, there was no way found for human society to survive as long as there was continuous growth. Notice the critically im­portant word growth. Falling back to more limited goals, a best possible outcome was finally reached. It achieved a sustainable world, but only without growth.

The illustration below shows the dangerous convergence of population growth, resource depreciation, changing industrial output, pollution and food production predicted by MIT and the prestigious Club of Rome. (Please also note that the timeframes predicted in the illustration below have shortened considerably due to new research on accelerating climate change.)


To achieve this sustainable model, the following necessary and immediate interventions were needed: population growth had to be stopped by 1984 at 5 billion; industrial growth had to be stopped by 1990; jobs were largely shifted to services; pollution across all industries, including agriculture and carbon fuels, had to be cut by 75%; food production had to be subsidized extensively using expensive organic sustainable methods; capital equipment had to be designed for a minimum of 50 years depreciation. Even with all these strict limitations, the long term depletion of natural re­sources was not solved, and would require further limitations.



The Club of Rome members, who held very prestigious industry posi­tions in Europe, believed that once world governments saw these results, they would take immediate action. Upon publication of the book, the results were presented directly to the United Nations (U.N.) With significant support from U.N. leadership to involve all nations in developing commitments, world nations responded positively and strongly! Almost every nation commit­ted to strong support to heed the warnings the studies presented. The study participants were ecstatic! There was one significant country, however, that would not go along – the U.S..

No sooner than world action started, other leaders of industry, government and academia came forward as enemies of the plan. All they saw were the disruptions that would occur to their own companies and institutions from implementing such an approach. If population was made stable, for example, what would happen to the construction industry? No population growth means few new houses; few new roads. The focus would shift to replacement only. World manu­facturing would have to be capped on many fronts.

In a strong nega­tive response, the world fossil fuel industry and the major invest­ment banks began a major attack on the U.N. effort by discrediting the science behind the study with fraudulent claims. Despite the strong initial response, the support of countries around the world pulled back. The result was, in two years, all but one country backed out of their commitments. The only country to stand behind its commitment was Mao Tse-tung’s China, which had committed to a one-child per family response – the main require­ment of the study. They stood by that commitment for 40 years. A current renewal by the fossil fuel industries against CO2 limitation and growth limitations has broken down China’s resolve. They recently slightly curtailed the program due to recent international banking pressures. Again, to their credit, the population limitation program has not been completely abandoned.

Despite continuous suppression by industry, academia, and banking, every ten years after the first Limits to Growth book came out, the MIT team produced an update of their analysis. Using the most current world data, each update repeated the warnings because the most up-to-date data confirmed the model’s accuracy. The analysis was also repeatedly confirmed by independent groups.(1-2) Lacking adequate growth limitations and reductions in the use of natural resources from world countries, each estimate of future devastation was expected to be worse and the dates of occurrence expected to be earlier than the worst case of the prior study.

Fast forward to 2020. The collapses that were feared by the original Club of Rome study have already started. The most recent report updates suggest how they could play out. The combination of pollution and resource depletion will lead to mass food and water shortages. These in turn will cause mass population disruption. The death and migration of billions of people will lead to economic collapse and war around the globe. (Editor's note: Previous Club of Rome reports had few calculations for the primary and secondary consequences of climate change. Imagine what those reports would have looked like if they had included estimates for the primary and secondary consequences of climate change.

But let me again stress an important point. These are no longer predictions for a time in the future. The collapse is now underway just as the models suggested. The world is now facing an apoca­lypse, as great and as devastating as many religions have long feared. In this case, however, the collapse is due totally to human-induced natural causes, of which climate change plays only one part.

Without scientific justification at the end of WWII to slow population, “end of war” politics at that time actually ushered in a baby boom. The reason human civilization was able to exceed an estimated 2B sustainability level was because the earth still had easily accessible natural resource reserves. Over hundreds of millions of years, nature essentially created a stockpile of supplies. So, if nations understood the problem and took action to slow population growth after 1968, and growth stopped in 1984 at 5 B, and then came down again to 2 billion people around 2024, humanity could have achieved a sustainable future without disaster.

That didn’t happen. In fact, the population problem was completely ignored. As of 1984, the population was still growing fast. It now exceeds 7.7 B. This many people, in a world system only able to support 2 B, is called overshoot.

This means current population has far exceeded the earth’s carrying capacity. Overshoots, in system theory, are always followed by strong collapses. So, a rapid collapse back to 2B or less is coming. As a sign that the current population is approaching its “peak”, just look at how fast the growth rate is quickly dropping.

In 1964, it was 2.24%. It dropped to half that, being 1.1% in 2018. That’s a reduction in growth rate of 1.0% in 39 years. The current growth rate, in 2022, is only 0.83% and rapidly decreasing.

If the current rates continue, the peak - i.e. zero population growth - will be reached around 2026! Note! This does not mean that growth will be “leveling off” as mainstream economists would have us believe. It will be an earth-shaking and undeniable milestone that the great population collapse has begun.


Here is an update for the world's population growth rate now:  The current population of World in 2022 is 7,975,105,156, a 0.83% increase from 2021. The population of World in 2021 was 7,909,295,151, a 0.87% increase from 2020. Think about it! This is down from 9% in 2018!


Here is the original Club of Rome/MIT study graph.

Other articles in this series:

You can now find Part Two of this series on the Club of Rome and MIT here.

You can find part 3 here.


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