Earth’s population is nearly approaching seven billion people and at the same time resource limits and environment degradation has taken more and more place. While there has been a steady population growth during the last two or three centuries, it has been especially rapid during the past 20 years. While rich nations continuously assured poor nations, that they would be one day as rich as the developed countries and their rate of population would decline, it is no longer clear if this will ever occur to most of the poor regions. However, this shows that population growth rates are not the same in all parts of the world. Thus, in industrialized countries such as Japan, and the most countries in Europe grow much less rapid and doubling their population in 50 to 100 years. However, pre-industrial, low-income and less develop countries, such as Latin America or the South Western Pacific Islands grow much faster with annual growth rates that they are going to doubling their population in 20 to 40 years.
By addressing growth rates focusing on both, consumption and population is necessary and neither can be ignored. However, many of us do not see the problems created by growing populations and increasing affluence bearing down on a finite planet. Either consumption, Population and greenhouse gas emissions will grow continuously until we face up that there are limits on our finite earth or we are confronted by a catastrophe that will be large enough to turn us from our current course. Thus, we can choose to rebalance our use of resources to a more equal pattern of consumption to reframe our economic values and to reflect what consumption means for our planet. We can help other individuals around the world to make free reproductive choices of consumption, or we can choose to do nothing. If we will do nothing, we are going to drift into a downward vortex of economic, socio-political and environmental ills.
Many recommendations predict that we have to curb our consumption in developed and developing parts of the world. Thus, we aim both, more volatile climate and a reduction in emissions that are contributing to warming. Both to ensure adequate resources to help the poorest to achieve a better live.
However, if we assume that Indians, African or other poor countries in the world had a consumption level that would be equal to that in the western levels, it would be like earth’s population increasing by 72 billion. Accordingly, Jared Diamond stated, “Some optimists claim that we could support a world with nine billion people. But I haven’t met anyone crazy enough to claim that we could support 72 billion.”
As mentioned above, we often promise developing countries that one day due to adoption of good policies and free-market economy they will be able to enjoy a first world lifestyle. However, this promise is impossible because currently we have problems to supporting the first-world lifestyle for only one billion people.
Funkhouser, D. (2012): Population, Consumption and Future. Columbia University, Earth Institute
Peters, G. (2010): Population Growth is still the Biggest Problem Facing Humanity.
National Academy of Science (1963): Worlds Population Problems. The Growth of World Population: Analysis of the Problems and Recommendations for Research and Training. Washington DC, the National World Academies Press.
Diamond, G. (2008). Interview, Population versus Consumption. http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=08-P13-00004&segmentID=3 Accessed: 06.08.2019