Monday, November 12, 2007

Perceptions of Options

In my sample, the country that most closely approximates the average world population is Turkey. According to my consumption model, the population will drop to zero in 74 years, if consumption stays constant. By comparison, the population will crash in 31 years if next year we attain the best case consumption and quality of life, equivalent to Denmark. The best case for population and worst case for quality of life is equivalent to Zimbabwe, where the population would crash in 198 years if the world dropped consumption to its level next year and maintained it. The way conditions are currently changing, we’ve got no more than 40 years.

The United States, where I reside, is moving haltingly in Denmark’s direction. The required change in consumption is similar to an obese person eating 40 percent less. I have the impression that most of those who have come to accept the need to consume less believe that if the world’s average consumption were cut in half, a decent standard of living could be sustained indefinitely. While powerful countries like the U.S. might approximate Denmark, cutting the average by half turns Turkey into Indonesia, and the population crashes in 148 years.

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