Gaya Herrington is a systems thinker and Director (Sustainability Services) at KPMG in Washington D.C.. With an academic background (from the Liberal College of Amsterdam and Harvard University) in econometrics and sustainability, her research and consultancy work has focused on how global sustainability trends interact to shape humanity's future. Before joining KPMG she worked as an economic and financial policy advisor at the Dutch Central Bank, and was an executive director at a non-profit organization promoting sustainable economics. She is also currently an advisor to the Club of Rome.
Lecture Abstract: A book written by MIT scientists in 1972, Limits to Growth (LtG), predicted global societal collapse setting in around 2020 if humanity did not alter its priorities. The book contained several scenarios showing different possible future global developments. The LtG authors created these scenarios by varying assumptions in runs of the first system dynamics model of the world, called World3. Given the unappealing prospect of collapse, Gaya was curious to see which scenarios were aligning most closely with empirical data today. After all, the LtG book was a bestseller in the 70s and we now have several decades of empirical data with which to make some meaningful comparisons. Gaya collected data from academia, NGOs, United Nations entities, and the World Bank, and then sought to combine and plot them along World3 scenarios spanning a range of technological, resource, and societal assumptions. She found a close alignment of observed data with two scenarios, one of which ends in collapse—the scenario in which declines are caused by pollution, including greenhouse gas pollution. Gaya will discuss her research and these findings with us. Her research on this, and other work on the systems relationships between Covid-19 and climate change, have featured in The Times and Guardian. She will discuss the lessons that can be drawn from her findings, including whether there are any opportunities left to change humanity's trajectory and the usability of continuous growth as humanity's goal in the 21st century.
See her article: Update to limits to growth: Comparing the World3 model with empirical data – Herrington – 2021 – Journal of Industrial Ecology – Wiley Online Library. Also see this July 2021 interview in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/25/gaya-herrington-mit-study-the-limits-to-growth
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