Doomsday, Says MIT Computer, May Be Just 100 Years Away By Robert Reinhold CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (NYT). -- A major computer study of world trends has concluded, as many have feared, that mankind probably faces an uncontrollable and disastrous collapse of its society within 100 years unless it moves speedily to establish a ”global equilibrium” in which the growth of population and of industrial output are halted. Such is the urgency of the situation, the study's sponsors say, that the slowing of growth constitutes the ”primary task facing humanity” and will demand international cooperation ”on a scale and scope without precedent.” They concede that such a task will require ”a Copernician revolution of the mind.” The study, which is being sharply challenged by other experts, was an attempt to peer into the future by building a mathematical model of the world system, examining the highly complex interrelations among population, food supply, natural resources, pollution and industrial production. The conclusions are rekindllng an intellectual debate over a question that is at least as old as the early economists, Thomas Malthus and John Stuart Mill: Will human population ultimately grow so large that the earth's finite resources will be totally consumed and, if so, how near is the day of doom? Club of Rome The study was conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the auspices of the Club of Rome. In the findings, to be published Thursday by the Potomac Associates under the title ”The Limits to Growth,” the MIT group argues that the limits are very near-unless the "will" is generated to begin a "controlled, orderly transition from growth to global equilibrium.” The study would seem to bolster some of the warnings of environmentalists. In Britain, for example, a group of 33 leading scientists issued a ”blueprint for survival”in January, calling on the nation to halve its population and heavily tax the use of raw materials and power. But others. particularly economists, are skeptical. ”It's just utter nonsense,” remarked one leading economist, who asked that he not be identified. He added that he felt there was little evidence that the MIT computer model represented reality or that it was based on scientific data that could be tested. Another economist, Simon S. Kuznets of Harvard, a Nobel Prize-winning authority on the economic growth of nations, said he had not examined the MIT work first hand, but he expressed doubt about the wisdom of stopping growth. ”It‘s a simplistic kind of conclusion-you have problems, and you solve them by stopping all sources of change,” he said. Others, like Henry C. Wallich of Yale, say a no-growth economy is hard to imagine, much less achieve, and might serve to lock poor cultures into their poverty. ”I get some solace from the fact that these scares have happened many times before-this Malthus again,” he said. Malthus, the 19th-century British economist, theorized somewhat prcmaturely that population growth at rates that could be graphically represented as a rising curve would soon outstrip available food supply. He did not foresee the Industrial Revolution. Prof. Dennis L. Meadows, a management specialist who directed the MIT study-which is the first phase of the Club of Rome's ”Project on the Predicament of Mankind"-conceded that the model was ”imperfect.” What Happens Without Regulation This computer ”run” by MIT group, using five key growth factors to the year 2100, shows rapidly diminishing resources eventually slowing growth, assuming no major change in physical, economic or social relationships. Time lags in decline of population and pollution are attributed to natural delays in the system. Population rise is finally halted by an increase in the death rate.