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Predicting the Future: How Good is the “Earth4All” Model?

Predicting the Future: How Good is the “Earth4All” Model?

Jørgen Randers - Wikipedia

Jorgen Randers, one of the original authors of the first report to the Club of Rome, “The Limits to Growth,” of 1972. Now, he is one of the main authors of the new report to the Club, “Earth for All

This post is not meant to be an in-depth assessment of the Earth4All model but a general discussion on how to use forecasting models. I argue that no matter how sophisticated a model can be, it will always have shortcomings and that a flexible approach is normally the best. The Earth4All model is an integrated assessment model (IAM) linked to earlier efforts such as the “Limits to Growth” series of models, but it is a different approach, being more “goal-oriented” in the sense that it defines the policies needed to approach social, economic, and environmental goals. Facing an uncertain future, Earth4All provides a roadmap that we may or may not be able to follow, but it is part of our efforts to manage a better future for humankind.

You surely remember the story of Oedipus, who was foretold by the Pythoness of the Delphic Oracle that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Horrified, Oedipus ran away from the people he believed to be his parents and ended up unknowingly killing his real father and marrying his real mother. This story prefigures a problem that we are still facing nowadays: is the future predictable? And, if it is, does that mean it cannot be changed? When the story of Oedipus was written in the version we know today by Sophocles in the 5th century BC, oracles may have been enjoying the same kind of trust that in our times we reserve to “science.” Hence, the oracle’s words were presented as an absolute and unchangeable destiny.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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