Complexity Economics Society Uncategorized

Failed Doomsday, eco-pocalyptic predictions and Extreme Problems


Extreme Problems are very large-scale multi-disciplinary problems, involving thousands or millions of variables and which cannot be solved using conventional technology. In such situations, it is impossible to determine the cause of the problem not only because of its sheer size but, most importantly, because it is frequently perceived through conventional eyes and distorted by narrow and linear thinking. It is not a matter of Big Data, AI, huge compute power or sophisticated math modeling – some things just cannot be modeled. Certain problems cannot be solved with traditional mathematics. A model-free approach is mandatory.

One example is that of climate models. The climate on our planet is dominated by very many factors, some impossible to model, some simply unknown. Those who have been engaged in building models know that:

“The most important things in a model are those it doesn’t contain”

So, how good are climate models? Below are some failed doomsday, eco-pocalyptic predictions based on climate models (source):

1. 1967: Dire Famine Forecast By 1975
2. 1969: Everyone Will Disappear In a Cloud Of Blue Steam By 1989 (1969)
3. 1970: Ice Age By 2000
4. 1970: America Subject to Water Rationing By 1974 and Food Rationing By 1980
5. 1971: New Ice Age Coming By 2020 or 2030
6. 1972: New Ice Age By 2070
7. 1974: Space Satellites Show New Ice Age Coming Fast
8. 1974: Another Ice Age?
9. 1974: Ozone Depletion a ‘Great Peril to Life’
10. 1976: Scientific Consensus Planet Cooling, Famines imminent
11. 1980: Acid Rain Kills Life In Lakes
12. 1978: No End in Sight to 30-Year Cooling Trend
13. 1988: Regional Droughts (that never happened) in 1990s
14. 1988: Temperatures in DC Will Hit Record Highs
15. 1988: Maldive Islands will Be Underwater by 2018 (they’re not)
16. 1989: Rising Sea Levels will Obliterate Nations if Nothing Done by 2000
17. 1989: New York City’s West Side Highway Underwater by 2019 (it’s not)
18. 2000: Children Won’t Know what Snow Is
19. 2002: Famine In 10 Years If We Don’t Give Up Eating Fish, Meat, and Dairy
20. 2004: Britain will Be Siberia by 2024
21. 2008: Arctic will Be Ice Free by 2018
22. 2008: Climate Genius Al Gore Predicts Ice-Free Arctic by 2013
23. 2009: Climate Genius Prince Charles Says we Have 96 Months to Save World (from what?)
24. 2009: UK Prime Minister Says 50 Days to ‘Save The Planet From Catastrophe’
25. 2009: Climate Genius Al Gore Moves 2013 Prediction of Ice-Free Arctic to 2014
26. 2013: Arctic Ice-Free by 2015
27. 2014: Only 500 Days Before ‘Climate Chaos’
28. 1968: Overpopulation Will Spread Worldwide
29. 1970: World Will Use Up All its Natural Resources
30. 1966: Oil Gone in Ten Years
31. 1972: Oil Depleted in 20 Years
32. 1977: Department of Energy Says Oil will Peak in 1990s
33. 1980: Peak Oil In 2000
34. 1996: Peak Oil in 2020
35. 2002: Peak Oil in 2010
36. 2006: Super Hurricanes!
37. 2005 : Manhattan Underwater by 2015
38. 1970: Urban Citizens Will Require Gas Masks by 1985
39. 1970: Nitrogen buildup Will Make All Land Unusable
40. 1970: Decaying Pollution Will Kill all the Fish
41. 1970s: Killer Bees!

42. 1975: The Cooling World and a Drastic Decline in Food Production
43. 1969: Worldwide Plague, Overwhelming Pollution, Ecological Catastrophe, Virtual Collapse of UK by End of 20th Century
44. 1972: Pending Depletion and Shortages of Gold, Tin, Oil, Natural Gas, Copper, Aluminum
45. 1970: Oceans Dead in a Decade, US Water Rationing by 1974, Food Rationing by 1980
46. 1988: World’s Leading Climate Expert Predicts Lower Manhattan Underwater by 2018
47. 2005: Fifty Million Climate Refugees by the Year 2020
48. 2000: Snowfalls Are Now a Thing of the Past
49. 1989: UN Warns That Entire Nations Wiped Off the Face of the Earth by 2000 From Global Warming

So, before one claims that humans cause climate change – just think, the Earth receives in 1 hour from the Sun the same amount of energy humans produce in 1 year – we must first do our homework and understand how climate works in the first place.



Established originally in 2005 in the USA, Ontonix is a technology company headquartered in Como, Italy. The unusual technology and solutions developed by Ontonix focus on countering what most threatens safety, advanced products, critical infrastructures, or IT network security - the rapid growth of complexity. In 2007 the company received recognition by being selected as Gartner's Cool Vendor. What makes Ontonix different from all those companies and research centers who claim to manage complexity is that we have a complexity metric. This means that we MEASURE complexity. We detect anomalies in complex defense systems without using Machine Learning for one very good reason: our clients don’t have the luxury of multiple examples of failures necessary to teach software to recognize them. We identify anomalies without having seen them before. Sometimes, you must get it right the first and only time!

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