Sunday, July 8, 2007


The annual growth rates for the world’s population, per capita ecological footprint, and annual per capita energy production are not constant. They appear to be changing over time in such a way that the per capita footprint rate could peak in the next two years, and the population rate could drop below zero (we could start LOSING population) by 2017. The population and per capita footprint rates do not appear to be dependent on each other.

If these predictions are correct, we need to know why. For example: Will the decrease in population be due to excessive damage to the biosphere, or a voluntary decrease in footprint below a threshold of maintenance for the artificial infrastructure that supports the population? In other words, will we kill Nature so it kills us, or will we simply kill ourselves? The first option is by far the most likely, since the timing of the decrease in population corresponds to the decrease in per capita footprint, and we have experienced decreases in per capita footprint (in the late 1980s) without an accompanying decrease in population. There is also another reason to believe the first option is correct: My consumption model projects the total footprint to reach two planets by 2018.

If I’m right about the cause, what can we do about it? Repairing the damage comes to mind, but will we have the energy and the will to do so?

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