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In: Growing numbers and dwindling resources, edited by Rekha Krishnan. New Delhi, India, Tata Energy Research Institute, 1994. 139-60.Consumerism in developed countries and high rates of population growth in developing countries threaten environmental sustainability. The author uses Ehrlich and Holdren's identity "I=PAT" to study anthropogenic impacts upon the natural resource base. Such impacts can be mitigated by reducing population growth, limiting affluence, and technological advances which lead to reduced production intensities. These three options are considered. With a view to sustainability, the role of issues such as poverty alleviation and environmental refugees are discussed. Noting priorities for environmental sustainability, the author stresses the need for initiatives in industrialized countries aimed at reducing per capita consumption and environmental throughput. The author also considers the roles of religion and poverty in environmental problems. Political will is needed to effect change in market structures and economic policy.
Washington, D.C., World Resources Institute [WRI], 1987 Sep. , vi, 119 p.A team of members from Brazil, Sweden, India, and the US have conducted an energy analysis which focused on energy demand rather than energy supply. This end-use analysis is entitled the End Use Global Energy Project (EUGEP). The EUGEP global energy scenario for 2020 indicates a per capita energy use in industrialized countries of almost 50% lower than what it was in 1980 (3.2 kilowatts/person vs. 6.3 kilowatts/person). The scenario assumes a widespread shift from the inefficient noncommercial fuels to modern energy technologies in high efficiency applications. Other assumptions include limited growth in nuclear power, a balanced energy supply mix, and limits in use of fossil fuels especially coal. It finds that a mean 1.3 kilowatts/person could support the living standard present in western Europe in the late 1980s. The EUGEP scenario depicts a society in which global energy use is only 10% higher than it was in the late 1980s despite an increase in the population to 7 billions people compared with an increase of over 100% for conventional projections. This energy analysis serves only as an illustration of the technically possible. It communicates to policymakers that they have a choice. The analysts present case studies from Sweden and the US. They also address global energy and use as it applies in developing countries and market-oriented countries.
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. 1989 Sep; 261(3):136-43.The industrialized nations of the US, Japan, and West Germany can attribute their high standard of living to access to energy. 20% of the world's population uses >70% of its commercial energy. Between 1973 and 1985, the US gross national product increased 40% yet energy consumption did not change due to energy conservation measures. In this time period, energy consumption grew most rapidly in developing countries (22%) while they tried to improve living standards, industrialized, and adjusted to rapid population growth (11%). The increase in energy demand endangers our environment as well as our health. The burning of coal and oil yield acid rain destroying lakes, forests, crops, and buildings in Europe and North America. It unloads >5 billion tons of carbon into the air annually. Nuclear fission generates radioactive wastes. Even though technology has greatly decreased energy driven problems and energy demand without reducing the level of goods and services, energy efficiency and finding alternatives to existing energy sources in both developed and developing countries holds the greatest hope for preserving our planet and maintaining and improving our standard of living. The dependence on Middle East oil strains the economies of both developed and developing countries and sets the stage for international conflict. Potential alternative energy sources include solar energy, fusion, hydroelectric power, geothermal energy, and biomass. Some examples of energy efficiency measures are use of building materials which reduce heat loss, cogeneration (combined production of electricity and heat), aeroderivative turbine for electric power generation, and continuously variable transmissions. Neither energy efficiency or development of energy alternatives can occur fast enough to preserve out planet without political will, however. This political will needs to start with the US--a world leader in energy consumption and global carbon emissions.
WORLD WATCH. 1991 Sep-Oct; 4(5):22-30.This article examines the struggle between developed and developing countries when it comes to reducing energy consumption and limit carbon emissions, necessary steps for averting global warming. Negotiators from across the world have begun discussing the issue, hoping to come to an agreement by next June, when the UN Conference on Environment and Development will meet in Brazil. Disagreement centers around the question of who is responsible for the greenhouse effect and who will pay to fix the problem. The report discusses energy consumption and its effects, the cost of producing energy, and possible ways of eliminating energy waste -- especially as it relates to the 3rd world. Currently, the industrialized world (along with the USSR and Eastern Europe) account for 70% of all carbon emissions from fossil fuel consumption. Experts predict, however, that by the year 2025, the 3rd World will surpass the industrialized world in fossil fuel consumption. The author emphasizes the difference in energy use between the 2 regions: while people in developing countries burn wood and biomass to take care of basic necessities, much of the consumption in the developed world to goes towards luxuries and amenities. Inefficient power plants waste much of the energy consumed in the 3rd World. Although hundreds of billions of dollars could be saved annually by introducing energy-saving devices, skewed international lending, underpriced electricity, and the vested interests of the 3rd World industries work against such measures. The author explains that the technology necessary to significantly reduced carbon emissions already exists. Furthermore, 3rd World countries and most industrialized nations (with the exception of the US and the USSR) have agreed on the need to reduce carbon emissions.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION. 1989 Autumn; 16(3):199-208.This philosophical review of 2 arguments about responsibility for and solutions to environmental degradation concludes that both sides are correct: the ultimate and the proximal causes. Ultimate causes of pollution are defined as the technology responsible for a given type of pollution, such as burning fossil fuel; proximate causes are defined as situation-specific factors confounding the problem, such as population density or rate of growth. Commoner and others argue that developed countries with low or negative population growth rates are responsible for 80% of world pollution, primarily in polluting technologies such as automobiles, power generation, plastics, pesticides, toxic wastes, garbage, warfaring, and nuclear weapons wastes. Distortionary policies also contribute; examples are agricultural trade protection, land mismanagement, urban bias in expenditures, and institutional rigidity., Poor nations are responsible for very little pollution because poverty allows little waste or expenditures for polluting, synthetic technologies. The proximal causes of pollution include numbers and rate of growth of populations responsible for the pollution. Since change in the ultimate cause of pollution remains out of reach, altering the numbers of polluters can make a difference. Predictions are made for proportions of the world's total waste production, assuming current 1.6 tons/capita for developed countries and 0.17 tons/capita for developing countries. If developing countries grow at current rates and become more wealthy, they will be emitting half the world's waste by 2025. ON the other hand, unsustainable population growth goes along with inadequate investment in human capital: education, health, employment, infrastructure. The solution is to improve farming technologies in the 117 non-self-sufficient countries, fund development in the most unsustainable enclaves of growing countries, break institutionalized socio-political rigidity in these enclaves, and focus on educating and empowering women in these enclaves. Women are in charge of birth spacing and all aspects of management of energy, food, water and the local environment, more so than men, in most countries.
TROPICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL MEDICINE. 1990 Jul; 42(3):197-206.An exposition of the ethical arguments for placing sustainability as a priority in implementation of public health programs is made, considering the definition of sustainability, theories of the demographic transition, the ecological transition, the relationship between sustainability of the ecosystem and the human birth rate, types of ethical conflicts over the issue of child survival interventions, a suggested way of resolving the dilemma and a possible paradigm shift constituting a scientific revolution in the field of international health. Sustainability means maintenance of the capacity to support life in quantity and variety. Although most demographers are familiar with Notestein's classic definition of the demographic transition, many are unaware of the likelihood that many countries will become entrapped in stage 2, to the extent that they destroy their ecosystem and thus their population, the "demographic trap." The 3 stages of the ecological transition are 1) expanding human demands with sustainable yield; 2) excess human demands with consumption of biological reserves; 3) ecosystem collapse and death or exit of the human population. An early sign of the 3rd phase is a rise in infant mortality. Sustainability can be increased by adjusting the environment or by lowering human birth rate, with Chinese rigor in need be, or by adding sustainable elements to the system that outweigh de-sustaining ones. Unfortunately there are too many unremovable constraints, and not enough time to wait for socioeconomic gains to lower birth rates. The current attempt by UNICEF to lower the child death rate to effect a demographic transition is attractive but unsound, since it has been proven that numbers of child deaths do not affect family fertility sufficiently. Reducing child deaths will only make population pressure worse. Ethical principles arguing for lowering child deaths have been articulated in Western culture, but now the challenge of sustainability may outweigh them all. It may be possible to apply sustaining measures to countries where possible, but for others, it is argued that child survival measures should not be instituted. These would only make the demographic transition impossible and prolong human misery for larger numbers. For these societies, only the kind of care Mother Teresa gives is appropriate. Finally, residents of developed countries must assume a "deep green" behavior code, a sustainable consumption level. WHO's definition of health should be updated to "Health is a sustainable state of complete...well-being."
POPULI. 1989 Sep; 16(3):20-9.Rapid population growth and overpopulation do not create serious problems for poor countries - they explain why most of them cannot escape poverty. The creation of a worldwide lethal situation is not due to the crude numbers of people or population density per se, but to the disproportionately negative impact of rich nations dumping on the life support systems and resources of the world. Roughly 3/4 of carbon dioxide released in burning fossil fuels is caused by the mobilization of energy to power overdeveloped societies. Poor people don't use much energy, so they do not contribute much to the damage caused by mobilizing it. "The average Bangladeshi is not surrounded by plastic gadgets, the average Bolivian doesn't fly in jet airplanes, the average Kenyan farmer doesn't have a tractor or a pickup, the average Chinese doesn't have air conditioning or central heating in his apartment." Statistics on per capita commercial energy use are used to develop an index of responsibility, by country, for damage to the environment and the consumption of resources by an average citizen of a nation. A baby born in the US represents twice the disaster for earth as one born in Sweden or the USSR; 3 times one born in Brazil; 35 times one born in India; 140 times one in Bangladesh or Kenya; and 280 times one in Chad, Rwanda, Haiti or Nepal. Overpopulation in industrial countries represents a much greater threat to the health of ecosystems than does population growth in developing countries. People in rich nations are in better positions to take responsibility for the world's resource depletion and environmental deterioration, because if they fail to reduce consumption rates and develop more accountable corporate standards, they can't expect the developing world to do so. The situation requires input by all nations to find solutions to problems of population growth, environmental degradation and damaging technologies and to design a more sustainable civilization. (Author's modified). (EXCERPT)
New York, New York, Population Council, 1985 Dec. 39 p. (Population Council. Center for Policy Studies Working Papers No. 120)This essay explores the economic implications of continuing below-replacement fertility in the developed countries of the West. Effects of low fertility on labor supply, technological change and investment and consumption are noted, but their economic growth and welfare consequences, it is argued, can for the most part be discounted provided some reasonable degree of institutional adaptability is present. 2 further areas where similar complacency on economic effects appears unjustified are explored at greater length. One is the potential influence of low fertility on income distribution and economic mobility. Social security issues, while properly seen as highly important, are only a subset of an intricate mesh of distributional relationships affected by fertility patterns. The other area is that of international economic relations, given the trend toward demographic inconsequence of the rich countries and the uncertain prospects of their continued technological dominance. The chief demographic effects of below replacement fertility are: eventual but often greatly delayed contraction in population numbers; a concentration of families around completed parities of 0-3; substantial rises in the median age of the population and in the proportion of elderly; and a fall-off in the relative numbers of youth and in the ratio of labor force entrants to retirees under constant participation rates. Technological effects of population growth are meditated through factor prices: a labor shortage can elicit shifts to more capital-intensive production methods. Low fertility, even somewhat below replacement level, presents no great difficulty for a modern economy. Its effects are probably small compared to business-cycle fluctuations in economic performance, and reasonable flexibility in adjustments to complementary factor inputs and technology and in fiscal management should enable continuation of a satisfactory pace of economic growth, both aggregate and per capita.
In: Economic consequences of population change in industrialized countries: proceedings of the Conference on Population Economics held at the University of Paderborn, West Germany, June 1-June 3, 1983, edited by Gunter Steinmann. New York, N.Y./Berlin, Germany, Federal Republic of, Springer-Verlag, 1984. 168-178. (Studies in Contemporary Economics Vol. 8)The economic impact of recent demographic changes in developed countries, particularly declining fertility, increasing divorce, delayed marriage, and demographic aging, is assessed. The focus is on household consumption behavior, with an emphasis on how declining fertility affects the level and growth rate of total and per capita consumption and consumption distribution. The importance of technological change and of age factors is noted. (ANNOTATION)
Laxenburg, Austria, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 1983. viii, 57 p. (WP-83-17)Add to my documents.
Population Studies. 1983 Mar; 37(1):5-21.In conventional steady-state growth theory with technical progress exogenous, faster population growth causes lower consumption. This conclusion has influenced national policies. With technical progress endogenous, however, higher population growth causes higher consumption. Steady-state equilibrium analysis is not appropriate for policy decisions, though. Rather, appropriate analysis compares two or more growth rates beginning from equal initial positions, with comparison of the present value of consumption streams per person. In the paper the supply of and demand for knowledge is first analysed and the most plausible technical progress functions are derived. Various population growth rates are then simulated with different specifications and parameters. With virtually every variant, faster population growth shows better consumption with discount rates up to between five and ten per cent above the long-run adjusted riskless rate. With pensions included in the analysis, faster population growth would seem even more beneficial. Even at very high discount rates, lower population growth rates imply present values only a little higher than those for higher population growth rates. The advantage is overwhelmingly with higher population growth in this growth-theoretic analysis. (author's)