How Much More are We Projected to Consume?

The US budget deficit has been for several years relentlessly in the public’s eye. But is this focus really warranted?

Globally, we face many major long term challenges. The US budget deficit is not only not one of them but is distracting public consideration, focus, and problem solving away from far more critical issues.

 

Explosive Growth

Global population sits presently at around 7 billion and has recently seen explosive growth. The earliest widely accepted estimates of population date to around 10,000BC at between 1-10 million people. In approximately the next 11,500 years population grew to about 425 million. In the last 500 years, however, population has ballooned exponentially to over 7 billion – that is over 1500% increase! By around 1950 global population was at around 2.5 billion. At 7 billion today, that is 180% growth in just 60 years. By 1500AD population growth had averaged around 37,000 people per year. In the period since 1950 that number has exploded to an average of 75,000,000 per year!

And a Lot of Poverty

As pointed out in One Scary Chart about 50% of people live in poverty, and the vast majority of those not in poverty have standards of living far below those of us in the West. Part of the UN’s assumptions about population stabilizing at around 10 billion is that as people increase their standard of living and become involved in more industrialized economies, they chose to have fewer children. So the underlying premise has to be that even as population grows to 10 billion, the vast majority of people consume far more resources than is presently the case.

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UN projections estimate that population will stabilize due to individual decisions by families at about 10 billion by around 2100. Even if true, that is still a lot of ever-expanding consumption!