FUTURE ENERGY AND RESOURCE CONSUMPTION AND POPULATION
In 1800, the World Gross Product, WGP, was $175.24 billion; population 1.0 billion.
In 2012, the WGP was $71,830 billion, 407 times greater; population 7.0 billion.
WGP/capita in 2012 = 407/7 = 58 times greater than in 1800
In 1800, world per capita energy consumption was 20 GJ. In 2010, 80 GJ
With 4 times the energy use per capita, 58 times the WGP/capita is achieved, i.e., energy/capita is used about 14.5 times* more effectively than in 1800.
WGP multiplier from 1800 to 2010 = 4 x 7 x 14.5 = 406; an indication of environmental impact.
* steam engines were 3% efficient, modern CCGTs are 60% efficient; Dutch wind mills were 2-4% efficient, modern wind turbines are at about half of the theoretical maximum of Betz's Law of 59%; wood/peat OPEN fireplaces of 1800 had negative efficiency. Lay people usually do not get that point, as they know little about the efficiency of engineered systems.
Because of the present effective use of energy, much more goods and services can be produced for consumption and more damage is done to the environment that debilitates the fauna and flora.
It is a fantasy to think RE build-outs by mostly developed nations will reverse this situation, because underdeveloped nations continue to increase their use of fossil fuels, i.e., GW is a given for as long as fossil fuels are available.
World Carrying Capacity: Dr. Paul Ehrlich, a biologist, states the world's sustainable carrying capacity (providing healthy food, clean water, adequate shelter, absorbing pollution, etc.) is AT THE VERY MOST 1.5 billion people; I use 1.0 billion, the population of 1800, in my articles.
Before WW I, most families had 4-8 children, now 1-3. It takes 2.1 children to MAINTAIN population growth at zero. Some European nations and Japan already have less than zero population growth. GRADUALLY reducing that number to less than 1.5, will GRADUALLY reduce the world population to 1.0 billion.
The 1.0 billion people would need to be on a strict energy/resources diet and on a strict travel diet to minimize their impacts on the environment and its remaining, debilitated fauna and flora.
Because of the spreading of modernity and its toxic substances, the capacity to support fauna and flora (other than Homo Sapiens with his healthcare support systems) has become minimal in heavily-populated, industrialized regions, such as the Ruhr area, since about 1850. Currently, that capacity is minimal almost everywhere i.e., the impact of Homo Sapiens, “Wise Man”, has greatly diminished the fauna and flora and their habitats almost everywhere.
Example: At the outlets of the Hudson and Mississippi Rivers are dead zones the size of New Jersey; eco-systems collapsed due to toxic silt, pesticides, and fertilizer runoffs. There are semi-dead zones everywhere, such as off the New England Coast, where fish populations have partially collapsed due to overfishing and habitat deterioration. Fish hatcheries and fish farms are required.
Example: Pollution in the environment (air, soil, water) has entered the food chain of the fauna and flora causing and/or increasing the prevalence of a multitude of genetic-damage-related diseases, such as a multitude of various cancers, i.e.,bladder cancer in 4-yr olds; increased autism and attention deficit disorders in children; fish eggs not hatching in the Mexican Gulf; acid-rain-damaged trees dying at an early age, etc.
Adverse lifestyles (breathing polluted air; drinking “processed” water; “doing” drugs; drinking alcohol; smoking tobacco; consuming low-nutrition foods, i.e., junk food) increase mutation and exacerbate the effects of pollution.
"Is it safe to eat the fish?". "Is it safe to drink the water?". Feel-good advertising makes us drink and eat what the industrial, low/no-nutrition food and drink sectors provide.
If it were not for modern medicine (which is getting increasingly expensive/unaffordable; currently about 18% of US GDP, or about $2.7 trillion/yr, or about 3.5 times the defense budget!), the human race would be in the same predicament as the remaining fauna and flora.
The resources of modern medicine will likely not be sufficient to stem the coming worldwide tide of cancerous and degenerative diseases, requiring procedures, such as breast, ovary, prostate removals and knee, hip, organ replacements, etc.
In 1800, there were about one billion people. In Europe, there was overpopulation and a lack of resources at THAT time. The reason so many millions (of the then small population) emigrated. Wood had almost run out and coal was not yet mined in sufficient quantities to replace it, oil had not yet been discovered and the technology to use it did not exist.
Renewable Energy Build-Outs The Solution?: Doing RE build-outs are exactly the opposite of what Ehrlich advocates, because they are, lifestyle-wise, BAU.
Doing heavily-subsidized RE build-outs that are resource-intensive, expensive, polluting, environment-damaging, quality of life-damaging, etc., without first doing significantly increased energy efficiency* (which reduces the use of resources) and population reduction (which reduces the use of resources) is extremely irrational. There are no funds to do RE and EE at the same time.
*The resource and energy savings due to EE should only be used to do additional EE, not for buying other goods and services; a necessary lifestyle change.
Excerpt of this article.