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More than 300 years have passed since Isaac Newton presented a prediction of when the world might end. He concluded that it would take place sometime after or around 2060. However, his sources were not exactly the science that he would go on to be the founding father of. Rather, he had chosen the book of Revelation’s “prophecies”.
The “End Of The World”
Now, this is nothing new to the Christian religion. However, for most of us, this indulgence of Newton may come as a major surprise. As Mathew Stanley says, in an article in Science, “laying the foundation of modern physics and astronomy was a bit of a sideshow.” Rather, Newton saw the act of uncovering Christianity’s true nature by decoding ancient scriptures are the “truly important work”.
Now, what does the “end of the world” mean according to these predictions? It means a general collapse of the modern world as we know it. It includes a collapse of stable climates, nation-states, supply chains, industrialized societies, etc.
Newton was, by no means, the last religious doom-slayer. However, with the advent of modern science, a particular category of scientists has seemingly joined the ranks. They claim that their work is to interpret data from research done on climate. They would also work on presenting sustainability estimates with the help of population growth in the face of dwindling resources.
These new-age predictions have little to do with theology or some grand struggle between evil and good. But, amazingly, even the modern calculations have put the date very close to Newton’s – around 2 decades of it, to be precise.
Forrester’s Unprecedented Prediction
You may have heard of the “Club of Rome” feature in many of the predictions that surfaced after the late 1960s. They are an elite collective of scientists and wealthy industrialists. One of their major inspirations was an American computer program. Jay Forrester, a systems theorist, and computing pioneer had developed it at MIT. It was an unprecedented global sustainability model that predicted that civilizational collapse would take place in 2040. Now, in 2022, Big Think’s Paul Ratner clarified that all those predictions made by the 1973 computer have been more or less coming true. Alarming, right?
Here is a brief but comprehensive explanation of that famous 1973 prediction:
You can actually know more about it in Limits of Growth, a report published by the Clip of Rome. Forrester’s own books Urban Dynamics (1969) and World Dynamics (1971) are great insights as well.
It is noteworthy that Forrester’s stature is nothing short of Newton when it comes to computer science and systems theory management. He passed away in 2016, and till the end, he had backed his computer-aided predictions. In fact, during one of the last interviews 98-year-old Forrester gave, he said “I think the book stands all right”. However, he also gave a warning: that facing these problems without systematic thinking only worsens the situation.
There Is Still Hope
So what can we do? Forrester’s 1973 computer program did not have that answer. Neither did Newton. Moreover, the theory that “unsystematic” solutions are worse seems to relieve the accountability of some extremely powerful human agents (such as Exxon executives) towards this collapse.
However, even though a lasting solution is yet to surface, let us keep in mind that future models are nothing more than models. They are predictions, and as with all predictions, they can be changed. Sure the future is probably going to be tougher than ever before. However, there can be unseen variables at work that no theory ever thought of. And, we must strive to find them.
All Image Credits: ABC News