View Full Version : High price to pay for China's wealth

Jan 8, 2006, 17:38
High price to pay for China's wealth

By Jeff Nesmith in Washington
January 7, 2006

GROWING prosperity in China threatens to place intolerable burdens on the world's natural resources, an environmental researcher has warned.

Unless the global economy is fundamentally restructured, the world will be unable to produce enough energy, food and other resources to meet Chinese demand, the president of the Earth Policy Institute, Lester Brown, said.

Dr Brown called for an international "Earth restoration budget" of $US161 billion ($216 billion) a year.

Per capita income in China would equal that of the US by 2031 if the Chinese economy continues to grow at its current pace, he said. With a projected population of about 1.4 billion at that time, a China as prosperous as the US would:

* Burn 99 million barrels of oil a day, 18 per cent more than is now produced globally.

* Consume two-thirds of the world's current grain harvest.

* Use twice as much paper as the world currently produces.

* Drive 1.1 billion cars, more than the world's 2005 fleet of 800 million - forcing it to pave roads and car parks equal to the area it now plants in rice.

"There go the world's forests," said Dr Brown, an honoured researcher who in 1974 founded the Worldwatch Institute, the first centre to focus on global environmental issues.

In a new book, Plan B 2.0, Dr Brown argues that economic growth in China and India will cause the world economy to collapse unless world leaders rapidly shift to renewable energy, resource recycling and efficient transportation. The book updates a report, Plan B, which he issued two years ago.

He calls the present global economic trend Plan A and says that it is not sustainable.

"China is helping us to see that the days of the old economy are numbered," he said. "It is hard to find words to express the gravity of our situation and the momentous nature of the decisions we are about to make," he writes. "One way or another, the decision will be made by our generation."

He said the world needs to spend $US161 billion a year limiting population growth, restoring forests, fisheries, grasslands and water supplies and controlling global warming.

He admitted that "such an investment is huge", but said many of the tools for restructuring the global economy are already in use.

He cited the growing US fleet of gas-hybrid cars, solar rooftops in Japan, wind farms in Western Europe and Amsterdam's bicycle-friendly streets.

Dr Brown was awarded the United Nations Environment Prize in 1987 and is an honorary professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Jan 13, 2006, 11:59
a China as prosperous as the US would:
* Burn 99 million barrels of oil a day, 18 per cent more than is now produced globally.

Which is a pretty ridiculous extrapolation, considering the fact that today's oil production has reached a peak & is improbable to grow very much (due to lack of new resources).

Anyway, here is a slightly different view (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8570):

"China and India 'hold the world in balance'
[...]The two countries argue that while they are high in the league tables of environmental damage, this is only because of their huge populations – their citizens, per head, cause only a fraction of the environmental damage of individual Europeans or North Americans.

Worldwatch agrees with this, estimating the worldwide gecological footprinth – the amount of resources needed to support each individual – of the average Chinese person at 1.6 hectares, the average Indian at 0.8 hectares. The average US citizen's ecological footprint is estimated at a whopping 9.7 hectares.
However, the think tank warns against assuming that economic growth is an environmental problem only in poor countries. gRecord-shattering consumption levels in the US and Europeh are equally to blame, stresses Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch. In the past decade alone, the ecological footprint of the average American has grown by the same amount as the total footprint of a Chinese person today.

But Flavin says countries like China and India have the chance to develop in a more benign way than already industrialised nations. g[By] leapfrogging todayfs industrial powers, they can become world leaders in sustainable energy and agriculture within a decade,h he says.

This is not unrealistic. China recently announced plans for the worldfs first geco-cityh on marshes outside Shanghai. India has the worldfs fourth largest wind-power industry and plans to generate one-quarter of its energy from renewables."

The future is certain...?

Jan 13, 2006, 19:20
The future is certain...?
It's true that the future isn't certain and people have different views on issues.