UK Government Study Finds: If Nothing Is Done, Expect Civilizations' Collapse By 2040

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Nafeez Ahmed via,

New scientific models supported by the British government’s Foreign Office show that if we don’t change course, in less than three decades industrial civilisation will essentially collapse due to catastrophic food shortages, triggered by a combination of climate change, water scarcity, energy crisis, and political instability.

Before you panic, the good news is that the scientists behind the model don’t believe it’s predictive. The model does not account for the reality that people will react to escalating crises by changing behavior and policies.

But even so, it’s a sobering wake-up call, which shows that business-as-usual guarantees the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it: our current way of life is not sustainable.

The new models are being developed at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute (GSI), through a project called the ‘Global Resource Observatory’ (GRO).

The GRO is chiefly funded by the Dawe Charitable Trust, but its partners include the British government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO); British bank, Lloyds of London; the Aldersgate Group, the environment coalition of leaders from business, politics and civil society; the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries; Africa Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the University of Wisconsin.

Disruption risk

This week, Lloyds released a report for the insurance industry assessing the risk of a near-term “acute disruption to the global food supply.” Research for the project was led by Anglia Ruskin University’s GSI, and based on its GRO modelling initiative.

The report explores the scenario of a near-term global food supply disruption, considered plausible on the basis of past events, especially in relation to future climate trends. The global food system, the authors find, is “under chronic pressure to meet an ever-rising demand, and its vulnerability to acute disruptions is compounded by factors such as climate change, water stress, ongoing globalisation and heightening political instability.”

Three steps from crisis

Lloyd’s scenario analysis shows that food production across the planet could be significantly undermined due to a combination of just three catastrophic weather events, leading to shortfalls in the production of staple crops, and ensuing price spikes.

In the scenario, which is “set in the near future,” wheat, maize and soybean prices “increase to quadruple the levels seen around 2000,” while rice prices increase by 500%. This leads to rocketing stock prices for agricultural commodities, agricultural chemicals and agriculture engineering supply chains:

“Food riots break out in urban areas across the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America. The euro weakens and the main European stock markets lose 10% of their value; US stock markets follow and lose 5% of their value.”

The scenario analysis demonstrates that a key outcome of any such systemic shock to the global food supply?—?apart from “negative humanitarian consequences and major financial losses worldwide”?—?would be geopolitical mayhem as well as escalating terrorism and civil unrest.

The purpose of exploring such scenarios is to prepare insurers for possibilities that are now more likely than previously assumed. The Lloyd’s report points out:

“What is striking about the scenario is that the probability of occurrence is estimated as significantly higher than the benchmark return period of 1:200 years applied for assessing insurers’ ability to pay claims against extreme events.”

That leading insurance companies are now attempting to factor in potential losses from such crises is a major step forward in pushing the financial sector to recognise the dark-side of the current system of fossil fuel dependence.

The report concludes:

“A global production shock of the kind set out in this scenario would be expected to generate major economic and political impacts that could affect clients across a very wide spectrum of insurance classes.”

It would have “major consequences for companies’ investment income,” with the potential to “generate losses that span many years.” It would also result in political instabilities that take “decades to resolve” while imposing “greater restrictions on international business.”

Governments want answers

The scenario was developed for Lloyds by the Anglia Ruskin University team with the British Foreign Office’s UK/US Task Force on Resilience of the Global Food Supply Chain to Extreme Events.

The Foreign Office’s food resilience Task Force began to come together late last year. An FCO document from February 2015 for a Task Force workshop throws light on its rationale, direction, and participants.

“The taskforce is looking at plausible worst case scenarios of disruption to the global agri-food system, caused by extreme weather events,” the document explains. Taskforce projects aim to “improve understanding of how changing extreme weather events (severity, type, frequency, geographical impact) may impact on global food security” and to “identify how market and policy responses may exacerbate or ameliorate these effects.”

Of particular concern to the FCO’s taskforce is to determine “how large shocks in agricultural production could occur (e.g. floods, droughts, wind storms),” how these would translate into “crop reductions,” and “how society responds to high food prices or limited local availability.”

Although coordinated by the FCO, other British government-backed programmes are involved, chiefly, the Global Food Security Programme and UK Science & Innovation Network, together representing the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA); the Department of Health; the Department for International Development (DFID); the Government Office for Science; the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; and the Scottish and Welsh governments.

On the US side, government involvement was limited to the Center for Integrated Modeling of Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition Security (CIMSANS), which is supported by the US State Department, and USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

Another participant was the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), whose membership includes the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the European Commission, the Asian Development Bank, and the African Development Bank, among many others.


I had been in touch with the Anglia Ruskin GSI team for a while, having previously reported on some of their work?—?and this month joined GSI as a visiting research fellow.

Earlier this year, I attended an invite-only GRO steering committee meeting of scientists, technologists, financiers, economists, and academics, where GSI’s Director, Dr. Aled Jones, delivered a detailed presentation on the modelling work done so far, what it implied, and where it was leading.

Dr. Jones was previously Deputy Director of the Programme for Sustainability Leadership at the University Cambridge, where he was Director of the British government’s flagship Chevening Fellowships Economics of Climate Change Programme, supported by the UK Foreign Office to deliver the FCO’s Strategic Framework. Jones also chairs a working group of the UK government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change’s Capital Markets Climate Initiative (CMCI).

Jones’ GRO initiative has received direct funding from the Foreign Office to develop its modelling capacity, and he is a co-leader of the FCO Task Force’s working group on ‘Impacts’, where he and his team apply the GRO models to assess the way crop reductions would affect global food security.

GRO is developing two types of model: an Agent-Based Model to explore short-term scenarios of policy decisions by simulating social-economical-environmental systems; and a System Dynamics Model capable of providing projections for the next 5 years based on modelling the complex interconnections between finite resources, planetary carrying capacity, and the human economy.

“The financial and economic system is exposed to catastrophic short-term risks that the system cannot address in its current form,” Dr. Jones told us.

He described GRO’s use of the Agent-Based Model to capture and simulate the multiple factors that led to the 2011 Arab Spring events.

By successfully modeling the “impact of climate-induced drought on crop failures and the ensuing impact on food prices,” he said, the model can then be recalibrated to “experiment with different scenarios.”

“We ran the model forward to the year 2040, along a business-as-usual trajectory based on ‘do-nothing’ trends?—?that is, without any feedback loops that would change the underlying trend. The results show that based on plausible climate trends, and a total failure to change course, the global food supply system would face catastrophic losses, and an unprecedented epidemic of food riots. In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption.”

Another steering committee member raised their hand: “So is this going to happen? Is this a forecast?”

“No,” said Jones. “This scenario is based on simply running the model forward. The model is a short-term model. It’s not designed to run this long, as in the real world, trends are always likely to change, whether for better or worse.”

“Okay, but what you’re saying is that if there is no change in current trends, then this is the outcome?” continued the questioner.

Jones nodded with a half-smile. “Yes,” he said quietly.

In other words, simply running the Agent-Based Model forward cannot generate a reliable forecast of the future. For instance, no one anticipated the pace at which solar and wind energy would become cost-competitive with fossil fuels. And the fact that governments and insurers are now beginning to scope such risks, and explore ways of responding, shows how growing awareness of the risks has the potential to trigger change.

Whether that change is big enough to avoid or mitigate the worst is another question. Either way, the model does prove in no uncertain terms that present-day policies are utterly bankrupt.

Limits to growth

GRO’s System Dynamics Model takes a different approach, building on the ‘World3’ model developed by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which famously forecast that humankind faced impending “limits to growth” due to environmental and resource constraints.

In popular consciousness, the ‘limits to growth’ forecasts were wrong. But recent studies, including one by the Australian government’s scientific research agency CSIRO, confirm that most of its predictions were startlingly prescient.

Dr. Jones and his team at Anglia Ruskin University have taken this confirmation several steps further, not only by testing the model against the real world, but by recalibrating it internally using new and updated data.

“World3 was a very good, robust system,” he told us. “Some assumptions were incorrect and misparameterised?—?for instance, life expectancy is smaller than assumed, and industrial and service outputs are larger than assumed. And the model was missing some shock dynamics and feedback loops.”

The same questioner put his hand up and asked, “Does this mean the original model and its predictions are flawed?”

“I would say the model was largely correct,” said Jones. “It was right enough to give a fairly accurate picture of future limits to growth. But there are some incorrect parameters and gaps.”

The System Dynamics Model, Jones explained, is designed to overcome the limitations of World3 by recalibrating the incorrect parameters, adding new parameters where necessary, and inputting fresh data. There are now roughly 2,000 parameters in the model, drawing on a database of key indicators on resources and social measures for 212 countries, from 1995 until today.

Jones’ affirmation of the general accuracy of the limits to growth model was an obvious surprise to some in the room.

The original model forecasted global ecological and economic collapse by around the middle of the 21st century, due to the convergence of climate change, food and water scarcity, and the depletion of cheap fossil fuels?—?which chimes with both the GRO’s models.

Last year, Dr. Graham Turner updated his CSIRO research at the University of Melbourne, concluding that:

“… the general onset of collapse first appears at about 2015 when per capita industrial output begins a sharp decline. Given this imminent timing, a further issue this paper raises is whether the current economic difficulties of the global financial crisis are potentially related to mechanisms of breakdown in the Limits to Growth BAU [business-as-usual] scenario.”

For the first time, then, we know that in private, British and US government agencies are taking seriously longstanding scientific data showing that a business-as-usual trajectory will likely lead to civilisational collapse within a few decades?—?generating multiple near-term global disruptions along the way.

The question that remains is: what we are going to do about it?


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kaiserhoff's picture


Intervention by extraterrestrials by 2030.

Fool has a model.  Enough said.

knukles's picture

Nibiru.  Don't worry, be happy. Nuffin' we can do about it. 
Always glad to hand over more freedoms to directionless governmental inefficiency and taxes in order to save myself from that which is either not gonna happen or cannot be changed in any event

Yeah!  Let's put Band-Aids over more cancerous tumors, treat the symptoms, not the disease

Let's do a guys End of Days out, Kaiser

God's picture

"UK Government Study Finds: If Nothing Is Done, Expect Civilizations' Collapse By 2040"

GOD says the only thing that has to be done to prevent this is to END the UK.

The king, queen, prince, princess, and the little royal babies. Their eternal domain will be with my nemesis.

GOD has spoken!

Pinto Currency's picture



UK gov needs to read this:

We can produce multiples of the current food production with sustainable methods.  The current petrochemical factory farms don't work.


The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
HL Menkin
Anusocracy's picture

Limits to growth = "Everything government touches turns to crap." - Ringo Starr

Government is a gigantic fucking waste of everything.

FringeImaginigs's picture

Ah, the old government is totaly bad thesis. Well I''ve got the perfect soloution for you and your family, and don't forget the kids too!  Somalia, Yemen, Burkina, Southern Ethiopia. No governments, no taxes! YIPEE. A veritable paradise. But don't forget to pack your AK47's and 50cal machiners. Plus a truck load of ammo and some personal flak jackets. Off you go. Have a nice life.

Anusocracy's picture

I feel sorry for true believers like you.

Foreign governments, yes, your precious government, have been fucking around in Somalia for decades. And to begin with, Africa is hardly civilized anyway.

It's useless idiot government lovers like yourself that are behind most of the evil in the world. You and your ilk should be proud with all the billions of gallons of blood on your hands. Fucking killers.

Bumpo's picture

Yes, if a handful of Global Corporations continue to have their way, the World is fucked. Then again, we could always grow our own gardens and run our own lives and communities locally without Central Planning Overlords, instead.

All Risk No Reward's picture

Except the criminal special interest controlled government next door would "Genghis Kahn" you.  Can't win for losing, eh?

Mr. Magoo's picture

catastrophic food shortages, triggered by a combination of climate change, water scarcity, energy crisis, and political instability

Studies from the same government who caused all the problems in the first place. 


"In 1847 the London Communist League (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels) used Hegel's theory of the dialectic to back up their economic theory of communism. Now, in the 21st century, Hegelian-Marxist thinking affects our entire social and political structure. The Hegelian dialectic is the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution. If we do not understand how the Hegelian dialectic shapes our perceptions of the world, then we do not know how we are helping to implement the vision. When we remain locked into dialectical thinking, we cannot see out of the box"

In other words we are all fucked

Pure Evil's picture

The author is wrong. What's unsustainable is unlimited migration of illiterate 3rd worlds into countries such as the UK and the US.

It also doesn't help that you constantly allow people of a certain faith to migrate to your country people whose total intent is to take the whole world back to the 9th century all the while deluding yourself into thinking that these people can be convinced to accept liberalism as it is bandied about in today's society.

invisible touch's picture
invisible touch (not verified) Pure Evil Jun 21, 2015 4:16 PM

What's unsustainable is unlimited U.S illiterate 3rd consanguineous generation not able to place india, ukraine, and  95% of the world on a map.



fixed it for ya :)

Pure Evil's picture


And, we have our own morons produced locally unable to do what you've mentioned.

So why do we need to import millions more of them?

What's the purpose other than to vote Democrat.

Once TPP becomes reality and even more US jobs are outsourced overseas or positions that do stay are insourced with foreign labor on visas, why do we need more 3rd world immigrants to fill up the slums.

duo's picture

Topsoil isn't mentioned, but it is being destroyed quickly all over the world.  The once dark carbon-rich soil of the  Midwest looks like beach sand.  These nutrient-free soils dry out quickly and need more rain than properly managed soil.

But the bottom line is there are just too many fucking people.  If the libs have their way and 100 million Central Americans and Muslims are allowed into the US, there will be food shortages here.

Pure Evil's picture

I think you'll have more to worry about than just food shortages. You're moving people with diametrically opposing philosophies and politics together into one sandbox and asking them all to play nice with each other.

And the white liberals will find themselves on the rude end of the stick once their populations swell and they vote in their own La Raza's or Faith.

duo's picture

America will be split up into 6-9 starving ethnic states by then.

Anusocracy's picture

"You're moving people with diametrically opposing philosophies and politics together into one sandbox and asking them all to play nice with each other."

What do think happened about 10,000 years ago when disparate conquered forager tribes started being incorporated into growing towns?

Of course government viewed that as a reason for more control.

Karaio's picture

You put a good point.

Humus = soil surface.

Varies between 30 and 50 centimeters, depending on the region.

Unless Ukraine, this soil has great depth in some places reaches several meters.

It's called "Tchernosolo" already talking about exporting to other EU countries.

If you do that Ukraine will become a big pond ...


svayambhu108's picture

Romania used to have that, but now there are parts that are sandy desert like, I think Ukraine had that stripped off a lot too, like Romania was a bread basket for Britain for almost a century. And then for the soviet union etc...

BTW Wasn't that shit radioactive anyway, I am amazed that this economic basketcase is allowed to still run nuclear power plants, did we not learn anything ?




All Risk No Reward's picture

Topsoil is basically saturated with RoundUp Ready.  You can imagine the biology of RoundUp Ready saturated soil, can't you?

All to the "feed the children" that the ultimate owners of Monsanto, the Debt-Money Monopoly, are starving to death via their fraudulent debt-money system of worldwide impoverishment.


It is like a Death Star with a neutron bomb function upgrade.

privateparts501's picture

We have food shortages now. When Californians migrate out en masse to other parts of the country, the strain on the already decaying infrastructure will hasten.

I can forsee areas of California forcibly evacuated and the farms given sole priority for water.

We do have too many people, like 4-5 billion too many. We live in a petri dish and we have reach peak population sustainability. In about 3-4 ears will come the mass die-off. This article didn't mention several other factors but that is irrelevant. We are past the point of no return.

PrettySkulls's picture

If you honestly believe the world to be overpopulated you will act upon this by immediatly exterminating your own family.

Until then, youre just another mouth to feed.

STP's picture

Screw you.   We're talking Third World, versus First World.  If you haven't taken note that the Brown People and the Muslims are reproducing at record rates, then you are a fool.  The White Population for the most part is actually negative. What hurts BigWorldOligarchyCorp,is that their model is built on endless growth of cheap, exploitable labor, instead of sustainment.

ersatz007's picture

Lucky for us we have conservatives who really have done an awesome job of taking care of the planet. I'm mean the self policing corporations of the world have done nothing to harm anything.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Perhaps the intent of those is not the assimilation into society and the embracing of liberalism but the annihilation of the competition for food and resources. In the long term, if this study is to have any validity, the elite may view this as a prudent step. The challenge is positioning oneself well in the game such as this.


Not Too Important's picture

Make 'em citizens, use them to repeal the 2nd Amendment, then kill 'em all.

'Karl Rove: Only Way To Stop The Violence Is To Repeal Second Amendment'

'Obama Admin. Partners With Boston, Encouraging More Immigrants To Become Citizens'

'Masonic truck transports FEMA coffins in Wisconsin'

general ambivalent's picture

Look up Hugelkultur. It is a better way of controlling moisture and slowly releasing composted material since it does not create the toxicity problem. It is also a deeper method of the agro-forestry he describes.

One-Straw Revolution is also very interesting. A big problem with transplanting is that plants grow relative to the depth at which they are introduced into the soil. So all these oil-based containers are limiting potential growth of the plants to begin with, and then you have to shock the plants when you transplant them.

When you think about it, what did European people do for centuries? You had to feed your animals and keep warm apart from getting food. This meant gathering hay and wood. Any extra and waste material can be used for the beds. The hay prevents weeds and grass from taking over, while allowing beneficial weeds to still grow along with the plants. And the excess wood, or rotting fenceposts, could be used as compost and flood/drought prevention.

This was common sense to our ancestors, and agribusinesses ruined it with their model of negative energy output.

HolyfieldsOtherEar's picture

Yep. It's scaremongering for Agenda 21, which the Commiepope is pushing big-time now.


Climate change? Natural and not a problem. Energy? Abundant if we turn to thorium salt nuclear and maybe geothermal. Drought? Water is recyclable, and with abundant energy seawater can be desalinated (not practical now). Fix those three, the fourth takes care of itself.

kaiserhoff's picture

I'm in.

Got one for you, Swami.  Driving in to have lunch with eldest daughter, when what to my wandering eyes do appear, but a well placed small business advert,  to wit:

                              QUALITY TATTOOS

                        WEEKEND SPECIAL:  ALL PIERCINGS $30.00

                            (above the waist)

The longer you think about that, the worse it gets.

knukles's picture

Ah, but that means I can still get my Karl Rove is Jesus tattoo.
(He now wants to repeal the 2nd amendment ... ah the Kabuki Theater of it all, One Party, Indivisible with Psycho Panderings for All)

Have a wonderful meal.  Happy Father's Day.  My best wishes to you and yours.

Pure Evil's picture

Its beginning to look like the Republican Party is finally coming out the closet with plans to join sides with Democrats to finally kill off the final remants of a Constitutional Republic.

After supporting Obama on the TPP and fast track what else can we call them except the Traitors Party.

Anusocracy's picture

The goal is to be in control, not to please the dupes.

An unarmed population is easier to control.

Pure Evil's picture

Please, please explain what firepower the population has that they can use to reclaim their country.

But, as they say, take the guns away and only criminals will have the guns. And, I'm not talking about street hoodlums I'm talking about he criminals that run the country.

Anusocracy's picture

After being disarmed, the people will still have their brains.

For most, that means they will be reduced to shooting blanks.

Overfed's picture

A most unfortunate truth.

XitSam's picture

Repubs and Dems are two factions of the Statist Party.

Citxmech's picture

I can't believe that this even needs to be stated at this point - but apparently it does.  Keep up the good work.

Anusocracy's picture

Descendants of the settlement people and descendants of the hunter-gatherers are two factions of the Alpha Male Social Hierarchy Party

invisible touch's picture
invisible touch (not verified) knukles Jun 21, 2015 4:14 PM

" nibiru "



bigkahuna's picture

The turds will hit the fan long before then. The wonderful leaders in charge engineered a never ending war by staging the 911 terorist attack that was really plain old murder which was covered up by our own government. Apparantly no other government is willing to step up and call the US out. Our own people have called our government out to no avail. 

If you think we live in the same old US of A of 90's and before, you would be wrong. It was one thing to assasinate JFK, one man. It is completely another to assisinate 3k at the murder site and another 11-12k and counting US Soldiers along with around 5-600kcounting of people in other countries along with the allied Soldiers.

The turds have been hitting the fan for a while, but somehow I believe that the sociopaths in charge have not yet achieved whatever madness they intend for the world yet. There is not going to be another 10 years. I am surprised every day that I wake up and I can go outside like "normal" and live a "normal" life. Every day - for real!


Any of you who feel the same - you are my brother in truth. Any of you who deny any of this, you indeed are part of the problem, there is blood on all of our hands, but you keep your hands in the pool of blood and you are ok with that. 

Ms No's picture

Speaking of 911, has everyone seen the prediction of it in the MARCH 2001 pilot episode of "The lone gunman" (offshoot of the X-Files).  Still blows my mind.

What was it they were saying about the corn in the X-Files

duo's picture

Obama was born and hatched (2006) and put in the position he's in today for one thing: TPP and TTP.  OK, two things.

Karaio's picture

These guys are traveling in mayonnaise.

Anyone with half a brain and a bit of geography knowledge knows that Europe, North Africa, Japan and some other places do not produce itself sufficient to feed its population.

Put Latin America as likely to "starve" is the final straw!

We go to a practical example, the United Kingdom, during IIWW with blocking by German submarines, the British almost starved.

Another thing, 2040 is very far, I believe that this scenario could occur in 2016/17 once the economy sink.

If there is a IIIWW, still I do not believe that Latin America goes hungry, even in urban areas.

Pure Evil's picture

Since most mordern farming is heavily dependent upon oil and natural gas not only to fuel the tractors but to create the fertilizer unless those countries can supply their own oil and gas they're up shit creek like everyone else.

Since Brazil uses sugar cane to produce ethanol its quite feasible they could manage to survive if the fuel is only used to produce food and distribute it throughout the country.

But, most of Latin America is ruled by Reptilians just like this country and they won't give a fuck about the little people anymore than the criminials in D.C. care about their fellow countrymen.

Citxmech's picture

There is little doubt that many folks could survive quite happily in a post-industrial civilization - it's more that our industrialized global economy's days are numbers - and probably quite a few millions/billions will perish right along with it.

Karaio's picture

Venezuela is OPEC, Argentina a few years ago was self-sufficient in oil, Brazil produces oil and there is much to be explored on the continental shelf, Bolivia produces gas.

There is deficiency in coal.

If you think Brazil is just alcohol from cane sugar, old man, you're wrong ...