Aspiring to the American Dream, will 10 billion humans in 2050 strip the world bare like locusts?

 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  8266
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
25 December 2018 11:09
 

Gandhi calculated early on the environmental costs of industrial progress by populous countries like India, China and Africa.  In 1928 he wrote, “If an entire nation of 300 millions (India’s population at the time) took to similar economic exploitation as the West, it would strip the world bare like locusts.”  Gandhi derived no satisfaction from the prospect of heavily centralized Asian and African states industrializing and catching up with their Western overlords.  https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/22/gandhi-for-the-post-truth-age

China presently has 1,415,000,000 people and India 1,354,000,000.  There are 7.7 billion of us in the world today.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/american-consumption-habits/

quote:  “It is well known that Americans consume far more natural resources and live much less sustainably than people from any other large country of the world. “A child born in the United States will create thirteen times as much ecological damage over the course of his or her lifetime than a child born in Brazil,” reports the Sierra Club’s Dave Tilford, adding that the average American will drain as many resources as 35 natives of India and consume 53 times more goods and services than someone from China.”

“Tilford cites a litany of sobering statistics showing just how profligate Americans have been in using and abusing natural resources. For example, between 1900 and 1989 U.S. population tripled while its use of raw materials grew by a factor of 17.  “With less than 5 percent of world population, the U.S. uses one-third of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 23 percent of the coal, 27 percent of the aluminum, and 19 percent of the copper,” he reports. “Our per capita use of energy, metals, minerals, forest products, fish, grains, meat, and even fresh water dwarfs that of people living in the developing world.”

Q:  Would you agree that, like Trump, most Americans are comfortable with their level of exploiting the world’s resources, and, if anything, tweet,  “Other countries are taking advantage of us!”

[ Edited: 25 December 2018 11:14 by unsmoked]
 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
Avatar
 
 
Brick Bungalow
Total Posts:  5000
Joined  28-05-2009
 
 
 
25 December 2018 11:45
 

A majority of Americans do not fall for Trumps lies or the general obfuscation of the GOP. Their majority in government is not the result of broad consensus but rather a facility for the tactics of division. I think we can produce hard numbers for this. A popular vote would not only unseat Trump it would produce an overwhelming left majority. I don’t say this because I lean left (I don’t) I think it’s just a fact.

That said I don’t like singling out any specific nation or region as the culprit in this regard. In any place I think there will be people who take environmental ethics seriously and those who consume selfishly. Its a matter of behavior, not location. I don’t want to sabotage useful collaboration between like minded people with associative guilt. I think there is a strong movement in the U.S. to achieve sustainability although its compromised (like most good ideas) by corporate product placement.

I do agree that it’s consumption rather than mere population that is the problem.

 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  7267
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
26 December 2018 10:58
 

I agree that consumption must be a huge factor in these calculations. But I think even better would be some metric on sustainability. In other words, high consumption is not an issue until it requires unsustainable practices to be maintained. For example, if we had figured out nuclear fusion, then using a lot of electricity wouldn’t be an issue.

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  8266
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
26 December 2018 11:59
 
icehorse - 26 December 2018 10:58 AM

I agree that consumption must be a huge factor in these calculations. But I think even better would be some metric on sustainability. In other words, high consumption is not an issue until it requires unsustainable practices to be maintained. For example, if we had figured out nuclear fusion, then using a lot of electricity wouldn’t be an issue.

If there was enough electricity for 10 billion people to consume power like Americans, what about all the other resources needed for that many people?

 
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  7267
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
26 December 2018 12:07
 
unsmoked - 26 December 2018 11:59 AM
icehorse - 26 December 2018 10:58 AM

I agree that consumption must be a huge factor in these calculations. But I think even better would be some metric on sustainability. In other words, high consumption is not an issue until it requires unsustainable practices to be maintained. For example, if we had figured out nuclear fusion, then using a lot of electricity wouldn’t be an issue.

If there was enough electricity for 10 billion people to consume power like Americans, what about all the other resources needed for that many people?

Well it was just an example. We’d need to consider whether our use of topsoil is sustainable. (It’s most not at this point - but that’s true everywhere.) We need to consider whether our use of fresh water aquifers is sustainable (it’s also not - throughout the world). Same for our fisheries, and so on.

But to me the bigger point is one of sustainability. For example, I believe that the permaculture folks have a lot to teach us about increasing crop yields while simultaneously sustaining and even improving the topsoil. And I think we could sustain more people if we reduced our meat consumption. And in the US, meat is cheaper than it should be because of subsidies.

So, I agree that 7 billion people is too many (let alone 10-11 billion - argh!). But this thread is about the consumption aspect of the problem.

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  8266
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
28 December 2018 12:47
 
icehorse - 26 December 2018 12:07 PM
unsmoked - 26 December 2018 11:59 AM
icehorse - 26 December 2018 10:58 AM

I agree that consumption must be a huge factor in these calculations. But I think even better would be some metric on sustainability. In other words, high consumption is not an issue until it requires unsustainable practices to be maintained. For example, if we had figured out nuclear fusion, then using a lot of electricity wouldn’t be an issue.

If there was enough electricity for 10 billion people to consume power like Americans, what about all the other resources needed for that many people?

Well it was just an example. We’d need to consider whether our use of topsoil is sustainable. (It’s most not at this point - but that’s true everywhere.) We need to consider whether our use of fresh water aquifers is sustainable (it’s also not - throughout the world). Same for our fisheries, and so on.

But to me the bigger point is one of sustainability. For example, I believe that the permaculture folks have a lot to teach us about increasing crop yields while simultaneously sustaining and even improving the topsoil. And I think we could sustain more people if we reduced our meat consumption. And in the US, meat is cheaper than it should be because of subsidies.

So, I agree that 7 billion people is too many (let alone 10-11 billion - argh!). But this thread is about the consumption aspect of the problem.

Here is a slide show of families around the world and their possessions.  Description will appear if you hold cursor at bottom of photo.  https://www.npr.org/sections/pictureshow/2010/08/10/129113632/picturingpossessions

Can you imagine of photo of the Trump family and their stuff?  What if every 7 people had a Boeing 757?  One billion 757’s each with jet fuel for them to go on vacation?  https://www.smithsonianchannel.com/videos/inside-donald-trumps-private-jet/24952

The distribution of wealth today?  One family has a Boeing 757 and another has a bicycle or a burro.  A typical American CEO earns as much in one day as a minimum wage worker earns in a year - maybe 5 years if you’re sewing garments in S. Asia.  Notice how Trump complains that other countries are taking advantage of Americans.

 
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  7267
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
28 December 2018 14:37
 

Hey unsmoked,

I thought we were talking about the consumption habits of typical Americans? (Of course the planet cannot sustain 10 billion people who live like billionaires. The question to me is whether we can sustainably support 10 billion people living at say a middle class US standard.)

 
 
Mr Wayne
 
Avatar
 
 
Mr Wayne
Total Posts:  758
Joined  01-10-2014
 
 
 
29 December 2018 06:33
 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Dream#Other_parts_of_the_world

In 2008 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev lamented the fact that 77% of Russia’s 142 million people live “cooped up” in apartment buildings. In 2010 his administration announced a plan for widespread home ownership: “Call it the Russian dream”, said Alexander Braverman, the Director of the Federal Fund for the Promotion of Housing Construction Development. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, worried about his nation’s very low birth rate, said he hoped home ownership will inspire Russians “to have more babies”.

Historically the Dream originated in the mystique regarding frontier life. As the Governor of Virginia noted in 1774, the Americans “for ever imagine the Lands further off are still better than those upon which they are already settled”. He added that, “if they attained Paradise, they would move on if they heard of a better place farther west”.

The Dream is different in other countries.  Even in the U.S., the Dream has changed.

Ten billion people will see a different world and will adjust their expectations. 

Gandhi

 

[ Edited: 29 December 2018 07:52 by Mr Wayne]
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  8266
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
29 December 2018 11:51
 
icehorse - 28 December 2018 02:37 PM

Hey unsmoked,

I thought we were talking about the consumption habits of typical Americans? (Of course the planet cannot sustain 10 billion people who live like billionaires. The question to me is whether we can sustainably support 10 billion people living at say a middle class US standard.)

http://theconversation.com/7-5-billion-and-counting-how-many-humans-can-the-earth-support-98797

 
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  7267
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
29 December 2018 12:14
 
unsmoked - 29 December 2018 11:51 AM
icehorse - 28 December 2018 02:37 PM

Hey unsmoked,

I thought we were talking about the consumption habits of typical Americans? (Of course the planet cannot sustain 10 billion people who live like billionaires. The question to me is whether we can sustainably support 10 billion people living at say a middle class US standard.)

http://theconversation.com/7-5-billion-and-counting-how-many-humans-can-the-earth-support-98797

from the article above, i found this paragraph:

Water is vital. Biologically, an adult human needs less than 1 gallon of water daily. In 2010, the U.S. used 355 billion gallons of freshwater, over 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) per person per day. Half was used to generate electricity, one-third for irrigation, and roughly one-tenth for household use: flushing toilets, washing clothes and dishes, and watering lawns.

That struck me as quite odd. My thought was that hydro power doesn’t really consume water, it merely gains energy from it as it moves downstream. That led me to this article which lists many of the ways in which we use water to provide power (directly and indirectly). While it seems to me that much of this could be handled with gray water, it’s still a situation I hadn’t heard of before. Certainly not to this huge degree.

how generating power uses water

But back to an earlier point - I’m in total agreement that there are far, far, far too many humans on the planet.

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  8266
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
30 December 2018 11:43
 

Sierra Magazine - January / February 2019

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2019-1-january-february/editor/hope-for-best-and-prepare-for

quote: “That’s why Sierra is publishing this special issue on climate change adaptation. As our reporting reveals, adaptations will have to take a number of forms. In “On the Move”, Madeline Ostrander reports that we will likely have to begin some kinds of assisted migration—helping flora and fauna relocate in order to survive. Rising sea levels will also spur the migration of human communities, Kenneth Brower writes in “The Atolls of Arkansas,” forcing some people to make new homes in strange lands. Miami will have to respond to rising sea levels (“Sea Change”), while Phoenix will have to cope with deadly temperatures (“Summer Is Coming”).

Above all, we will have to (finally, belatedly) accept the idea of living in a world of physical limits while simultaneously embracing a new age of boundless human ingenuity. In his essay “There Is No Planet B,” celebrated science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson argues that this will require us to rethink some of our assumptions about how the economy works, and whom it works for. “Our challenge,” he writes, “is to imagine harder.”