Should we be worried about consumption?

Globally, we are using more stuff and energy each year [1,2]. Much of this is explained by population growth [3,4], but resource use per person has also increased [5,6,7]. For example, people are eating more food, especially meat [6], and energy use per person increased by 44% between 1971 and 2015 [5].

Our consumption of resources is shown by the amount of money we spend on a product or service [7].

This total financial value of finished products and services is represented by Gross Domestic Product (GDP)[8,9].

GDP varies between regions and with time (swipe!) [8,9] so we standardize it to account for inflation and the currencies of different countries [10].

We can see our consumption has increased in the graph above (swipe!) because the standardized global GDP per person has risen by 140% between 1970 and 2016 [11]. So clearly to reduce emissions we need to decrease consumption! But is this easy to do? Wait and see in our next post!

References

[1] https://resourcepanel.org/reports/assessing-global-resource-use#download Within report see: section 2.1. Increase from 26.7b tonnes to 75.6b tonnes 1970 to 2010, so a 2.8-fold increase

[2] https://ourworldindata.org/energy-production-and-changing-energy-sources Within article see: How much energy does the world consume? Calculation: 64052.6 TWh in 1970 to 153595.66 TWh in 2017, so an increase by 2.4x (153595.66/64052.6 = 2.40)

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308521X10001575 Impacts of population growth, economic development, and technical change on global food production and consumption, Schneider et al. 2011. Agricultural Systems. See: E.g. Abstract

[4] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10668-019-00446-w See: ‘In this context, one question remains…’

[5] https://ourworldindata.org/energy-production-and-changing-energy-sources#per-capita-energy-consumption Within article see: Energy use per capita. Increase from 15,540 KWh per person in 1971 to 22,336 kWh per person in 2014(22336/15540 = 1.437, so a 44% increase)


[6] https://www.nature.com/articles/nature13959#Sec3 Within paper see: Global dietary change

[7] https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/correlation-of-per-capita-energy

[8] https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/gdp.asp Within article see: What is GDP?

[9] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD?most_recent_value_desc=true&view=map See: Table (All Countries and Economies, filter by Most Recent Value (millions) descending)

[10] https://ourworldindata.org/what-are-ppps

[11] https://ourworldindata.org/economic-growth Within article see: Growth at the technological frontier and catch-up growth, GDP per capita graph, filtered for “world”. Note: GDP per capita adjusted for price changes over time, and price differences between countries. Increase from $5935 in 1970 to $14,574 in 2016 (14574/5935 = 2.456, so increased by 2.5x or 150%)

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