Sunday, July 15, 2007

Option 2a

There is another interpretation of the second option for population and ecological footprint (proportional to annual consumption by mass) discussed in the last post. Suppose the footprint is on the same trajectory, but population retains the relationship to cumulative footprint that my consumption model assumes.

In this case, instead of reaching a maximum and then falling, the world’s population will level out at about 7.1 billion people around 2023 (close to the same value and three years later than where it would have otherwise peaked). The per capita footprint will be virtually indistinguishable from that of the second option, theoretically reaching zero in 2038, followed by a sudden population crash 11 years later. Note that by 2037 the per capita footprint would be at the level it is projected to have been in 1500, and with any luck it might level out there.

This alternative doesn’t offer much hope: We could either all be dead or living with an almost impossibly low level of consumption by the middle of this century.

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