Monday, December 11, 2006

Carbon vs. Population

There's lots of hype about carbon emissions these days but not very many people talk about population growth. Lets compare a carbon emissions historical chart with a population growth chart:

Carbon Emissions

Global Population Growth

Notice something that these two graphs have in common? Sure you already know about both of these factors individually but don't you find it odd that nobody talks about population control the same way they talk about emissions control? Clearly, talking about population control and immigration in the context of global emissions is unthinkable so we as a society choose to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that recycling bins and tofu wieners are going to solve the worlds' carbon problems. Until we face the facts, until we acknowledge the white elephant in the room, we're all fucked.


PGuy said...

A very good point, but I think we need to look at both stats on a finer granularity. The biggest population growth is in Africa, Central America and India, whereas these regions are using considerably less fossil fuels than the their more developed counterparts. I think we need to look at carbon emissions per capita on a national/regional level, especially since the developed nations like France and Japan are now encouraging population growth to support their economy. Given their per capita emissions, you are correct, we will be fecked. (In addition to the Gore movie which is kinda dullsville, I reccommend The Hydrogen Economy, an easy read and insightful look at the global energy economy.

sanj said...

The population growth in 2nd and 3rd world countries is mitigated by their (relatively) low per capita consumption and emissions - this is true. BUT - the first world is growing rapidly through immigration and moderately in some parts through organic growth.

Do the math, even with zero growth compared to the 2nd/3rd world, the 1st world produces a multiple of emissions.

The UN figures that between now and 2050 growth will occur exclusively in developing countries. This means that growth in the 1st world is (when normalized) completely due to immigration. So the .6% (US) and .5% (Canada) annualized population growth when multiplied by the emissions ration is the equivalent of 5-7% annual population growth in the 3rd world as it relates to carbon/consumption.

That's huge, we're fucked. We (first world) have to reduce per capita emissions 5% in 10 years just to stay in the same spot.

We're fucked (without radical change).

PGuy said...

Err, so we agree. I was just pointing out that population control ain't gonna fix anything on it's own...