Over the past 50 years the global population has more than doubled from 3.5 billion in 1968 to 7.5 billion in 2017. Demographers and population scientists predict that the global population will peak at just over 11 billion by 2100.
Can our planet cope and what do the next 5 years hold for humans and planet Earth?
In some respects the number of the people on the planet is not a huge problem. If we were all living like hunter gatherers then our impact would be relatively small.
The issue is our consumption rate, which continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing down.
But how much are we really consuming?
ReuseThisBag.Com recently produced this awesome infographic, which shows just how we are doing! It’s a scary graphic but one that we should all take notice of.
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In terms of consumption it is worth looking at food first. The United States leads the way by far!
The average American consumes nearly 1 ton of food annually!!
When you look at meat consumption in the States, it has increased from 138 pounds per person per year in 1950 to 195 pounds per person per year.
In terms of total waste production the average American produces 4.4 pounds a day, this translates to 254 million tons of waste per year for the US as a total, of which 87 million tons is recycled/composted (34.3% recycling rate).
Things get even worse for the US when you look at fossil fuels. Currently a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel emissions are from the US, despite only accounting for less than 5% of the world’s population.
One can only imagine what this will look like when China and India really get going!
In fact, many scientists believe that if current consumption levels in the US are replicated in just 50% of the global population then we would plunge into an environmental catastrophe.
Mass-scale climate chaos will become the norm with huge weather variations causing significant droughts, floods, heat waves and seasonal fluctuations that will lead to mass migrations, crop failures and specie extinction.
Ocean levels are predicted to rise 32 feet in the next 50 years, which would spell the end of many sea level states and islands, and even put places like London and New York at risk of flooding.
Deforestation from climate change and human encroachment will only accelerate, leading to significant loss of natural carbon sinks and the extinction of 100s of animals and plants.
It is indeed a bleak picture, but it’s not all bad news! And in fact we can still turn thing around.
New technologies are emerging and other older technologies maturing that are having a measurable positive impact on society.
Renewable electricity generation has grown from less than 10% of global electricity output 30 years ago to over 25% today.
Electric cars are fast becoming very popular and could be the norm in the next 10 years.
Recycling rates are increasing year by year globally, and new uses for recycled goods are continually being found. For example, road tarmac made from recycled plastic is already in production.
A focused global effort on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is underway but needs to accelerate.
On an individual level we can all make an impact by watching our consumption habits and making informed choices to buy less, buy better, and live more naturally!
Our writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.