Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I am doing a job for the Expo 2005 people wherein I am editing various speeches given for Expo. Today I am working on one from an environmentalist named Lester Brown. I thought there were some interesting stats:

China is growing so fast and has been the fastest growing economy in the world since 1980. It is growing so fast that it is providing us with a glimpse of what the future is like when large numbers of impoverished people become much more affluent. And I remember in 1994 when the Chinese government announced that they were going to develop an automobile-centered transport system. And they solicited bids from major automobile manufactures like Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors and so forth bids to build automobile assembly plants in China. And I thought about it and I asked myself what happens if China succeeds and one day has a car in every garage or maybe two cars in many garages as in the United States now. And the answer is that China would need more oil than the world now produces Eighty million barrels of oil a day. And last year we produced seventy-eight million barrels of oil per day and may never produce much more than that. And then I also looked at paper consumption. If paper consumption per person in China were to reach the U.S. level, China would need more paper than the world produces. There go the world’s forests. And what I think China is teaching us is that the western development model, the fossil fuel based, auto-mobile centered, throw-away economy is not going to work for China. And if it doesn’t work for China, it won’t work for India either which also has more than one billion people or for the other 2 billion people in the developing world. And in an increasing integrated global economy over the long-term it will not work for us in the industrial countries either. I think that is what China is teaching us. It is teaching us that the old economy fossil fuel based, auto-mobile centered, throw-away is not a viable model for the future...

That's interesting to me because you often hear the very pro-globalization crowd saying that globalization is necessary to improve technology and standards of living in less developed countries. These sorts of statistics say quite the opposite, that we are in fact able to live our highly consumptively, first world lives because others do not.

No comments: