Home > Uncategorized > The magnitude of the required reductions

The magnitude of the required reductions

from Ted Trainer and current issue of RWER

It is not commonly understood how large the reductions would have to be to enable a society that is globally sustainable and just. The World Wildlife Foundation’s Footprint measure (2018) estimates the average Australian per capita use of productive land at 6–8 ha. Thus, if the 9–10 billion people expected to be on earth by 2050 were to live as Australians do now, up to 80 billion ha of productive land would be needed. But there are only about 12 billion ha of productive land on the planet. If one third of it is set aside for nature then each Australian would be living in a way that would require about 10 times as much productive land as all people could ever have. Some other measures taking into account factors such as materials consumption (Wiedmann et al., 2015) indicate higher multiples.

To this must be added the implications of growth. If the Australian GDP rises by 3% pa and by 2050 all 9–10 billion people rise to the “living standards” Australians would then have, each year the global economy would be producing and consuming about 18 times as much as it does now. Yet the present amounts are unsustainable; the WWF estimates that the global footprint is now 70% higher than the planet could sustain. This indicates that the 2050 global resource and ecological impact would be in the region of 30 times a sustainable level. (For a detailed derivation of these multiples see Trainer 2021a.)

The common assumption that technical advance can solve the resource and ecological problems without impacting on affluent living standards and economic growth has now been contradicted by a large amount of evidence. Many studies show that despite constant effort to improve productivity and efficiency the growth of GDP continues to be accompanied by growth in resource use.

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  1. May 10, 2022 at 5:01 am

    Good to read someone has a realistic grasp of the problems we facing due to unrestrained growth in population and consumption!
    This comes after I was gobsmacked at the ignorance of anything approaching environmental limits, displayed by Lancet Editor Richard Horton this last week. He actually thinks that we’re all in trouble from imminent population collapse due to lack of breeding, except for Nigeria, which we are going to have to rely on to make up our numbers with a second ‘Out of Africa’ massed migration! Quite true to form, he does not mention England at all, in his blanket claims that our populations in the developed world are all declining and ageing. In fact, most of Europe’s population growth since Y2K has taken place in England, thanks to our lunatic ‘planning’ system and crazy obsession with ‘Growth’, that a disenfranchised population can do nothing to even slow down!

    Check out Horton’s ravings:

  2. Meta Capitalism
    May 10, 2022 at 6:10 am

    It reads like science fiction and wishful thinking.

  3. Hepion
    May 13, 2022 at 10:29 am

    There is a clear need to significantly reduce working time. When you ask people in the poll wast majority will say they want more leisure, even at the cost of lower purchasing power. People are not just getting what they want and that is the problem – there is massive amounts of overwork done that people do not want to do.

    I would prefer UBI solution with full employment plus job guarantee so people could genuinely choose what to do. Nowadays they are too afraid to quit and have time off because they fear finding job again would be too difficult. Small UBI to everyone and anyone can go earn more from work anytime they need extra money, would bring working times down, coalling with people’s wishes, happier people therefore and save the planet. Win-win-win!

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