In the next 50 years, global population is on a trajectory to increase by 50 percent—to 9 billion people—and per capita consumption by 140 percent. In China alone, the increases in construction, automobiles and energy use are staggering: Half of the world’s new building construction by 2015; more than 50 percent of global cement production; 5 million new cars just this year; 40 percent of the world’s growth in oil consumption since 2000; and 70 new coal-fired power plants annually.
Yet, despite such mind-boggling numbers, China still lags behind the United States in personal car ownership, per capita energy consumption and overall greenhouse gas emissions.
How long can the rest of the world survive this race to consume?
Photo: Shanghai, China
Sources: Energy Information Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, peopleandplanet.net, World Bank