With the population on the verge of hitting 7 billion, the debate rages: too many people or too much consumption? (Why can’t it be both?)
But for the consumption side, I just had a look at the most recent Global Footprint Network figures I could find: for 2007, published in 2010. Just in case you’re not aware, the Network measures our impact on the earth in use of land, water, resources and many other things, and at present reckons we’re using about 1.5 earths each per year – i.e., 50% excess.
The rather brutal thought experiment I did was to see how many people we could lose from the planet while remaining in excess. The answer is quite a lot: even if you ignore the consumption of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean (including Mexico), and six of the largest countries in Asia: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam and Iran, we would still be exceeding our global footprint. That lot comprise marginally under half the world’s population.
So curbing developing world population alone is clearly not going to solve anything. Western consumption levels need to be dealt with.